June 24, 2017

C&K Meats Ltd – An award-laden year

Since its creation in 1994 Suffolk-based C&K Meats has continually moved with the times, exploring new markets as it has done so. This approach paid off last year when it was named Exporter of the Year at the Meat & Poultry Processing Awards 2015.

“Myself and my brother Christopher Burrows established the business after bringing together our respective specialisms in wholesale and catering butchery,” explains Kevin Burrows, Managing Director. “We started with just four staff but after building a purpose-built factory we grew fairly rapidly and subsequently purchased an abattoir at Earsham in Bungay. We then relocated into central East Anglia in Eye in Suffolk after building a new purpose-built abattoir that became fully operation in September 2010 thanks to a 40 per cent EDDA grant that we secured to help fund the build cost of this important local facility. We then reinvested a further £750,000 from 2013/2014 in new refrigerated goods vehicles, the building of a second lairage to handle livestock more efficiently and a new boning line to further increase on efficiencies. The expansion to our facilities has since seen us increase the workforce to over 100 people.

“As for the award recognition, it’s unbelievable really. We never set out on the road to win any awards, we were just focused on trying to stabilise the business and develop a strong customer base. The awards have therefore been the icing on the cake.”

Kevin Burrows, Managing Director

“Despite the growth we have very much remained a family business and Chris’ son and daughter both work for us, as do my son and daughter. We’re not the biggest company in the world but then again we don’t particularly want to be, particularly as we don’t want to jeopardise the close working relationships we have developed with our customers.”

In addition to its inherent family values, another major factor behind C&K Meats’ success has stemmed from its flexibility and its unrelenting commitment to delivering high standards, which has ensured that it has been no stranger to awards. “In 2014 we received a Freedom Foods Award for the work that we do regarding animal welfare, whilst we also achieved a Suffolk Gold Charter Award for our environmental approach,” adds Kevin Burrows. “Customers increasingly like to see this type of award success, in addition to the BRC accreditation that we also obviously hold. They have helped to open doors for us into other markets overseas, which is why we were able to win Exporter of the Year at the Meat & Poultry Processing Awards. We’ve increasingly moved into high end foodservice and airline catering and, as British produce has some of the highest standards in the world, we have been able to take advantage of the strong levels of provenance that we can offer.

“As for the award recognition, it’s unbelievable really. We never set out on the road to win any awards, we were just focused on trying to stabilise the business and develop a strong customer base. The awards have therefore been the icing on the cake.”

This approach has obviously worked well for C&K Meats and aside from a growing list of accolades, it is continuing to develop its commercial interests in a number of different marketplaces, both at home and abroad.

“Even though we’re having increasing success overseas, the UK market remains our number one priority as our British customers continue to be the basis on which the company is built on. Of course the UK sector is facing pressure from cheaper imports from continental Europe and unfortunately this is not an area where we compete as we’re not interested in a race to the bottom in terms of price. Instead we’re all about delivering high quality produce and an excellent service.”

Having chalked up such an award-laden 2015, C&K Meats is now looking to replicate the success by ensuring its standards are never compromised. “We’re going to continue investing because a company that isn’t constantly improving can only go backwards,” concludes Kevin Burrows. “We have another £1.5m investment earmarked for the future to further increase our throughput, while we’re also going to set up our own training programmes so that we can develop the next generation of butchers in-line with the standards we adhere to.”