Meatpacking is about as profitable as it is glamorous. Hilton Food Group’s operating margins came in at 2.6 per cent last year, underscoring that meat is a volume game.

Unfortunately, rising prices and thrifty shoppers do not play to that: strip out the new operation in Denmark, and Hilton’s packed meat volumes declined.

Expansion is Hilton’s mantra, and has served it well: three-quarters of revenues now come from overseas. Yet it still relies on two big supermarket groups.

On 10.5 times earnings, the shares are at a discount to peers but the sector is a classic victim of penny-pinching consumers.

Bargain-hunting carnivores only need apply.

Year to January 1, 2012% change
Pre-tax profit £24.5m+10.4
EPS 24.3p+8.5
Dividend 11.1p+8.8

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