Cranswick warned that further price increases were on the way as it unveiled a strong set of annual results this week. The meat specialist announced pre-tax profit for the year to 31 March up 8% to £35.3m on sales up 17% to £599m. Pork sales were up 15%, with retail-packed volumes for the major multiples and Cranswick's premium range of fresh pork reporting particular growth uplift. Some 80% of the company's sales are through multiples. However Cranswick warned that raw material price rises were putting pressure on margins, forcing it to absorb more costs. "During the second half, raw material inflation was experienced across most categories, which impacted on margins," said chief executive Bernard Hoggarth. "The process of passing this inflation on to our customers and ultimately the consumer is challenging due to the competitive nature of retail." Cost increases would be gradually incorporated into selling prices in the first three months of the new financial year, said chairman Martin Davey. Cranswick also hopes to retain margins by focusing on premium lines. It reported a 19% surge in sales of gourmet sausages, boosted by the retail launch of its Simply Sausages brand, which it expects to secure further listings this year. Cranswick last year completed a new gourmet bacon facility, set up a Wiltshire curing facility, and will shortly start work on a new pork processing plant it claims will be the most advanced in the UK. "The sales shift into premium seems finally to have arrived in bacon. With our new facility we are well placed to capitalise," said Hoggarth. The company also reported strong demand for Continental foods, such as hand-made artisan fresh Italian pasta, which has boosted sales at its Continental Fine Foods division by 20%. The CFF subsidiary will shortly be launching a range of speciality pâtés developed by celebrity chef Albert Roux.