Cranswick has signalled it is well-placed to benefit from retailers’ pledges to shorten their meat supply chains following the horsemeat scandal, as it posted a 7% increase in total sales.

Underlying sales at the pork giant increased 5% in the year to 31 March 2013, after taking the acquisition of Kingston Foods (purchased in June last year) into account, the company announced in its fourth-quarter trading statement this morning.

The company welcomed recent moves by some retail customers to build a more integrated and transparent supply chain, it said in the statement. “These initiatives are reflected in Cranswick’s continued and unstinting focus on provenance, good safety, product quality and customer service.”

Full-year results will be announced in May, but it anticipated operating margins to be “broadly in line with those reported in the previous financial year”.

Total and underlying sales in the fourth quarter were up 15% and 13%, respectively.

Strong cash generation through the final quarter would result in year-end net debt being substantially lower than at the end of the third quarter and in line with the level reported a year ago, Cranswick added.

After adjusting for the benefit of the 53rd week in the previous financial year, underlying and total sales for the year to 31 March were up 7% and 9% respectively.