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Branston Pickle maker forced to make ‘unprecedented’ price increases

Branston pickle
Branston pickle

The maker of Branston Pickle has been forced to make “unprecedented” price increases after manufacturing costs soared.

Mizkan Euro, which sells Sarson’s Vinegar as well as the ploughman’s lunch staple, said in newly filed accounts that the business was impacted by the rising cost of energy and packaging.

This led to a 40pc jump in the price of Branson Pickle in some stores, as research shows that a 360g jar in Tesco rose from £1.50 to £2.10 over the past two years.

The price of goods on supermarket shelves is ultimately set by the retailer but suppliers like Mizkan Euro usually give a recommended price.

Food manufacturers have had to pay a higher price for everything from fuel to ingredients, labour and packaging in the past two years as inflation surged across the UK and Europe.

Some cost increases were linked to high gas prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Ichiro Nishikura, chief executive at Mizkan Euro.

He added that the company was “impacted by the tail end of the Covid pandemic and structural supply chain issues following Brexit”.

Mr Nishikura also singled out recent increases in the price of vegetables and grains, as well as rising labour costs “internally and at all of our suppliers”.

He added: “These factors together created a ‘perfect storm’ which regrettably necessitated the company to increase its selling prices by unprecedented amounts.”

Branston Pickle was first produced by Crosse & Blackwell in 1922.

It draws its name from the village of Branston, Staffordshire, where it was initially manufactured. The company’s founders are said to have created it by accident during experiments with excess fruit and vegetables.

The condiment contains a mixture of pickled diced vegetables such as swede, carrots, onions and cauliflower, and is commonly used as part of a ploughman’s lunch.

The business was acquired by Mizkan Euro in 2013 from former owner Premier Foods, the parent company of Mr Kipling.

It has said it sells more than 17m jars of the condiment every year to one in three UK households.

The increase in the price of Branston Pickle comes as Mizkan Euro plunged to a £13m pre-tax loss in the 12 months to February, up from £2.3m the year prior.

That was despite revenues rising 4.6pc to £104.1m.

Mr Nishikura said the company stopped supplying goods to Russia in 2022 which impacted its revenues by around £1.3m.

A spokesman for Mizkan Euro said: “Given the global pandemic was followed hot on the heels by inflation, the higher costs of energy and raw materials, we at Mizkan Euro, like millions of other manufacturers, have regrettably had to share some of these cost increases with our customers.

“Mizkan Euro has no say on the recommended retail price, this is set by the retailers.

“The financial performance in the financial year ended February 28 2023 was impacted by the requirement to write down the value of our intangible assets, which was a direct consequence of prevailing higher interest rates.

“The underlying trading performance of the company remains strong and the outlook for the future remains positive.”