The company, which is one of the leading Spanish supermarket suppliers, began supplying the UK with pork loins, legs and bellies via processors last year. Next month it will begin selling lower-fat bacon through supermarket own-label and tertiary brands. It will also start trialling an undisclosed "revolutionary" retail bacon product.
Costa Brava currently supplies 80 tonnes a week into the UK market, according to Steve Allen, MD of Aurora Food Marketing, which markets its meat in the UK. It plans to double that in the coming year, he added. "We achieved BRC accreditation in December and we are advancing our welfare status ahead of the 2013 EU laws [banning sow stalls] with new farms built to the new standards. We are channelling investment with the future in mind."
The company had spent the months since its UK launch getting to know its customers' specifications and requirements and could now offer them a product and price to compete with Danish and Dutch rivals, Allen added. "We are a credible alternative, particularly for independent retailers."
Costa Brava's plan underlines Spain's attempts to become a serious player in the UK market. The volume of Spanish bacon imported reached 4,964 tonnes in the 12 months to September 2009, a fivefold increase on the previous year [HM Revenue & Customs]. Although that still represents just 1.6% of the 302,471 tonnes imported to the UK annually, Allen argued that Spain was becoming an increasingly attractive alternative.
Costa Brava opened a new slaughtering facility in Girona in 2008 with capacity to handle 35,000 pigs a week, making it one of the largest in the country. All the meat was deboned and processed to Danish-style specifications, Allen said, with the company producing a range of value-added lines such as chorizo and Spanish ham as well as traditional cuts and bacon.