Poultry giant Faccenda Foods is looking to capitalise on the growing popularity of duck meat by taking its Cherry Valley business into the food manufacturing and retail sectors.
Faccenda acquired the Lincolnshire-based processor - which currently specialises in processing frozen duck for the foodservice sector - a year ago, and MD Andy Dawkin said that after a “period of integration” it was now looking to develop its proposition.
“We’ll still look after that frozen business, but our long-term market for Cherry Valley is in food manufacturing and retailing for cooked and fresh duck,” he added.
Duck has enjoyed a surge in popularity in the UK in recent years, with total value sales up 44% from just under £73m in October 2011 to £105m by October 2015 [Kantar Worldpanel]. Dawkins said the meat was becoming more and more accessible and affordable.
“We are seeing it more and more on pub menus, so it’s coming down a notch compared with a few years ago,” he added.
Faccenda had begun a process of “significant” investment at Cherry Valley’s factory in Caistor and across its farms, said Dawkins, with duck portions already being processed at the factory and a pipeline of new cooked and raw duck products being developed at Faccenda’s development facility in Dudley for use individually or as a component in meals made by other manufacturers.
However, Dawkins said Faccenda was not looking to develop Cherry Valley as a branded rival to Gressingham, adding it would instead focus on own-label and manufacturing business.
He warned developing duck as a rival to chicken would need patience. “I am a big admirer of what brands such as Gressingham have done and duck consumption is up, but duck is still a minority protein, and you have to give consumers the reason to buy it.”