Monthly Archives: January 2016

Waitrose under fire for supplier payments

According to newspaper reports, Waitrose is simplifying its terms of payment to speed up the time it takes to pay smaller suppliers after an internal review indicated that, following a change to Tesco’s payment terms, the upmarket supermarket was taking longer than its rivals to pay some suppliers.

An anonymous supplier to both Tesco and Waitrose told The Times, “I used to be on 60 days [payment duration]with Tesco, but now I am on 14 days. I am on 45 days with Waitrose and it nearly kills me sometimes.”

Waitrose director of commercial operations is leading the payment review and has said that the review process could run for many months.

Delayed and rebated payments are one of the most common issues raised with the Groceries Code Adjudicator and it is believed that accounting for rebates and supplier payments was at the heart of Tesco’s accounting scandal which broke last year.

The post Waitrose under fire for supplier payments appeared first on Hort News on 22 January 2016.

Farmer consortium selects HRS kit to pasteurise digestate

A 5MW farmer-owned anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Suffolk, UK, has selected HRS Heat Exchangers to supply a new system to pasteurise its digestate — the organic biofertiliser produced by the process.

Agri-Gen, which is based near Woodbridge in Suffolk, is owned by a consortium of six local farmers who locally grow some 22,000 acres of arable and root crops, such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sugar beet.

The AD plant is fed with a mixture of agricultural materials including rye, sugar beet, beet pulp, vegetable out-grades and maize, although the farms try to minimise the amount of maize grown.

The energy produced by the plant is used, amongst other things, to dry and cold store crops such as potatoes and onions.

Since it began producing biogas four years ago the company has focused on expanding and running the plant, but is now in a position to carry out a number of improvements to the process, including the additional of pasteurisation to improve the biosecurity of the digestate fertiliser which is returned to the farms’ fields.

This story first appeared on Bioenergy Insight.

Farming Recovery Fund extended to all parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire

Further to Environment Secretary Liz Truss’s announcement about compensation for farmers affected by Storm Eva flooding in Yorkshire and Lancashire on 31 December, Defra has now announced that the Farming Recovery Fund has been extended to all parts of both Lancashire and Yorkshire.

The Farming Recovery Fund, originally launched to help farmers hit by Storm Desmond in Cumbria, Northumberland and parts of Lancashire, will now be extended to farmers in all the areas affected by storms over Christmas and Boxing Day. The Farming Recovery Fund also covers farmers in Durham hit by Storm Desmond or Storm Eva.

Farmers suffering from uninsurable losses can apply for Farming Recovery Fund grants of up to £20,000 via the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to help restore soils, rebuild tracks and repair flood channels.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said, “We remain committed to providing practical support to those farmers affected. That is why I am pleased to announce we will be extending the Farming Recovery Fund to help cover short-term uninsured recovery costs such as, repairing damaged soils, tracks and flood channels.

The deadline for applications has now been extended from 18 March 2016 to 1 April 2016 to allow farmers in the newly affected areas time to apply.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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NFU sparks Westminster debate on food security

On Wednesday 8 January MP for St Ives, Derek Thomas, headed a 90-minute parliamentary discussion on food security, inspired by work carried out by the NFU.

Mr Thomas, whose home constituency is largely rural, has been working with the NFU’s South West office and prepared his debate using information provided to him in two NFU reports.

He said, “Living in a rural area such as west Cornwall brings home the contribution that farmers make and the vital role they play. They preserve, maintain and protect our countryside, and create jobs not only in farming but in sectors such as food processing, engineering and tourism. Most importantly, they feed the nation.

“In the past year our farmers have had a particularly difficult time. For many, the price they are being paid does not cover the cost of production. If this continues we will see farms disappear and less food produced. We need to create an environment where farmers are consistently paid a fair price so that they have confidence to invest in their business, employ the workers they need and produce the food and drink to meet UK demand and beyond.”

This post first appeared on HortNews.

Dutch fruit and veg trade breaks records

According to reports the Dutch produce industry has a record breaking 2015.

The value of imports increased by 7 per cent to €5.1 billion, while the value of production rose by 13 per cent to €3.4 billion, compared to the previous year. However Dutch exports of fruit and vegetables and domestic consumers bought 3 per cent less fresh vegetables and a 0.5 per cent less fresh fruit over the period. Some of this decline was due to poor availability of vegetables for international markets due to weather conditions in the spring and summer, although this also had the effect of raising prices.

The country also had a good year in terms of exports, despite the ongoing Russian embargo. China, Vietnam, Panama and Brazil were among several countries to open their borders to Dutch products and industry sources said that Dutch onions were exported to 120 countries in 2015.

Photo Credit: Richard Crowhurst

This post first appeared in HortNews.

Birmingham wholesaler prosecuted for produce standards offences

Four Season Exotic Limited, a Birmingham-based wholesaler, has been fined more than £3,500 at Birmingham Magistrates Court, following an investigation by Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) Horticultural Marketing Inspectors (HMI).

An inspection on 25 February 2015 found two regulated displays in breach of EU marketing rules for fresh produce, including orange sweet peppers being offered for sale in a rotten condition.

According to HMI, ‘The prosecution followed a series of risk-based enforcement visits and inspections, carried out by Horticultural Marketing Inspectors between February 2014 and February 2015. Concerted efforts were made by the HMI to work closely with Four Season Exotic Limited director Jaffer Mohammad with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the company.’

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Call to reduce farm rents

Tenant Farmers Association’s chairman, Stephen Wyrill, has said that farm rents need to be reduced this year.

“With little prospect of improvement in farming fortunes into the immediate future, it will be necessary, once again, for the farming community to tighten its belt and it is only right that landlords should share that burden too,” said Mr Wyrill.

“Despite the significant downturn in returns across all sectors we have seen very little response, so far, in terms of farm rents falling. On tenancies let under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 we have seen some reductions and many more standstills. However, I would have expected a larger number of reductions to have been in evidence in 2015. If current economic conditions within agriculture prevail then we must see many more reductions in 2016,” he added.

“For those taking land on Farm Business Tenancies, I continue to be concerned about what I can only describe as exorbitant levels of rent being offered at tender. However, I was very pleased to see the common sense advice coming from the Andersons Centre in its 2016 Outlook Report, which said that if rent was more than a third of output it was better to walk away than allow damage to the wider business. We need wide-scale action to get rents down,” he concluded.

Photo Credit: TFA

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Soil Association launches BOOM (Best of Organic Market) Awards

The Soil Association has begun the New Year with the launch of the new BOOM Awards (Best of Organic Market) celebrating great taste, exceptional quality, innovation and creativity in organic products and places to eat. The awards open for entries on Tuesday 5th January 2016, with the presentation ceremony taking place on 11th May 2016.

Clare McDermott, business development director of Soil Association Certification said; “We’re really excited to launch our new BOOM Awards – we’re going to make some noise for the very best in organic and raise the profile of new and existing organic businesses. With over 1,000 new products licensed with Soil Association Certification in 2015 we know that there is fantastic innovation going on in the organic sector. Coupled with a panel of expert judges and the amazing Anna Jones, this year’s BOOM Awards are naturally worth shouting about!”

According to the Soil Association, growth in the organic market is coming from new consumers who value innovation, creativity and craftsmanship in food production and presentation and says the awards reflect this.

Photo Credit: Soil Association

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US scientists assess fresh cut produce characteristics

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Beltsville, Maryland, and Salinas, California have studied various peppers in an attempt to identify attributes which can prolong their shelf life after being cut.

The team looked at 50 varieties of sweet bell peppers, large elongated peppers, jalapeno, and Serrano to discover those that can stand up to prolonged cold storage. Fresh-cut sweet bell and elongated peppers exhibited signs of deterioration, such as fluid leakage, after 10 to 14 days of storage, whereas jalapeno and Serrano peppers didn’t lose fluids until 14 days of storage. Fluid leakage is undesirable as it causes peppers to lose firmness and marketability.

The team found that some varieties of each type showed exceptional fluid maintenance, meaning the fruit stayed firm and didn’t exhibit tissue breakdown. The researchers say that the results provide opportunities for plant breeders to incorporate attributes that contribute to fresh-cut quality into new varieties that will benefit the food industry and consumers.

Associated work is also studying lettuces, and scientists have found several genetic markers that will allow lettuce breeders to confer a longer shelf life to cut lettuce.

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The post US scientists assess fresh cut produce characteristics appeared first on Hort News on 6 January 2016.

Produce Investments buys another daffodil grower

Rowe Farming Limited, the Cornish-based daffodil and potato growing subsidiary of Greenvale parent company Produce Investments has purchased fellow Cornish daffodil grower Andrew Farming.

The deal includes 40 new commercial daffodil varieties and 90 smaller seedling varieties and will expand the company’s daffodil portfolio significantly. Under the agreement Kevin Andrew will join the Rowe Farming management team.

Rowe Farming managing director Rob Stacey commented, “This acquisition enables Rowe Farming to offer a wider range of products and services to our customers and in particular we see opportunities in dried bulbs and specialist cut flowers.

“The varieties we have acquired from the deal are extremely complimentary to our own and the combined expertise will enable Rowe Farming to better serve our customers. This acquisition represents a major investment in future daffodil flower and bulb production, underlying our continued commitment to the sector.”

Photo Credit: Richard Crowhurst

The post Produce Investments buys another daffodil grower appeared first on Hort News on 6 January 2016.