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Cranswick warns on price of pork after a 21 per cent profit leap

Pork being one of the cheaper meats on sale at supermarkets full of shoppers desperate to cut their bills helped Cranswick, the maker of sausages by Jamie Oliver, enjoy a 21 per cent jump in half-year pre-tax profit to £22.5m.

But pork could be about to get more expensive; the group, which also makes Weight Watchers cold cuts plus own-label pork for Sainsbury's and Tesco, warned of the impact of European legislation on pig prices.

"Impending increased welfare legislation in EU member states, which comes into force on 1 January, is already impacting availability and pricing of pig meat from that region and may lead to further EU herd contraction in 2013," Cranswick said.

Still, the chairman Martin Davey is optimistic. "It is pleasing to report continued growth in sales, reflecting the ongoing popularity of pork with the consumer, driven by both the versatility and the low relative price of pork to other proteins," he said.

Branching out has helped: Cranswick, formed in the early 1970s by East Yorkshire farmers to produce animal feed, also makes sandwiches.

Overall revenues rose 6 per cent to £418.6m. The dividend was inched up from 9p a year ago to 9.4p.