The boss of pork supplier Cranswick has called on the government to provide clarity for its international workforce ahead of the UK formally exiting the EU.

It comes as the group posted strong half-year results in the six months to 30 September, with revenues up 16% to £581m on the back of double-digit volume growth.

Cranswick, which supplies sausages, bacon, poultry, cooked meat and fresh pork to supermarkets and retailers, was in a strong position to deal with rising input costs but was concerned about the availability of workers post-Brexit, CEO Adam Couch said.

“The inflationary path is well worn path but my concern is over labour and getting hold of key staff to come to the UK from Central and Eastern Europe,” he added. “We are looking for a degree of clarity from the government on the right to remain for workers already in the UK.

“There is definitely a feeling that the UK is not welcoming of an international workforce [since the EU referendum]. And that will be a concern for virtually every food producer or processor. It requires very clear clarification from the government on what the position going forward will be.”

Sales growth of 16% in the first half was recorded on the back of strong volumes across almost all its product categories, with major contracts wins in sausages and cooked meats, a 9% increase in pigs processed at the two main sites, a good performance from Crown Chicken and a 23% rise in exports.

Adjusted pre-tax profits increased 24% to £37.9m as a result and adjusted group operating margin improved by 0.4% to 6.6%.

However, underlying revenues only rose 8% because of deflationary headwinds as the supplier passed on lower input prices in the first quarter to its customers.

Sausage sales rose 16% in the period on 40% volume growth thanks to new contract wins with the group’s two largest retail customers for their ‘Butcher’s Choice’ ranges, which together delivered 350 tonnes of incremental volume. Cranswick said it expected a busy run up to Christmas, with the production of pigs in blankets to double to more than 40 million.

The £40m acquisition of Crown Chicken also paid off in the period as sales of fresh poultry grew 8.3%.

Cranswick invested a record £24m in its sites during the half to support the strong growth pipeline, with another £25m of capex earmarked for the continental foods facility in Greater Manchester.

Couch said the money invested in its facilities, which totals £200m in the past eight years, was an important element in offsetting the impact of a weak pound and rising costs.

“We are ploughing a lot money back into the infrastructure to improve on the efficiencies and help mitigate where we can the inflationary pressures,” he added.

Diversifying into poultry with the acquisition of Crown and Benson Park, increasing the amount of internally reared pigs for production, and building overseas trade also helped with lessen the impact of rising pig prices and currency movements, Couch said.

Cranswick also acquired the pig business of Dunbia after the half-year end to expand its capacity. The results posted to the stock exchange this morning revealed Cranswick paid £16.9m for Dunbia Ballymena, with another potential £1.3m if targets are hit.

The disposal of The Sandwich Factory to Greencore in July also generate net proceeds of £16m.