Monthly Archives: April 2016

Asda to sell new chips from Bartletts

Albert Bartlett has announced that Asda will be the first UK supermarket to list the newest member of its frozen potato range: Albert Bartlett Rooster Chunky Chips in a 900g pack.

The company launched its frozen range in October last year after buying the former Heinz and Aunt Bessies factory in Westwick in Norfolk. Three product lines: Homestyle chips 1.5kg, Rooster Homestyle chips 900g and Rooster Roast Potatoes 900g are available in Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and the Co-op. The new Rooster Chunky Chips will be available in Asda from 25 April and the company claims they are one of the biggest cut sizes of any branded chunky chip on the market.

Albert Bartlett’s head of marketing, Michael Jarvis, commented, “We are delighted that the Albert Bartlett frozen range is launching in Asda with the proven Homestyle Chips, Rooster Roasts and the delicious newly developed Chunky Chips. We have quality control in every step of the process, from the growing right through to the preparation and freezing at our own plant in Norfolk.”

Photo Credit: Albert Bartlett

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HRS pasteurisation system helps Shanks achieve PAS 110 certification

Pasteurisation technology supplied by HRS Heat Exchangers has helped international waste-to-product business Shanks Group plc, gain PAS 110 certification for its Westcott Park anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Buckinghamshire.

Publicly Available Specification 110 (‘PAS 110’) is a demanding industry specification which verifies the quality of digestate (the organic biofertiliser output from the AD process) and covers the product quality, standards for input materials and the management system for the AD process.

This important development, which was achieved in April this year,means that the digestate produced by Westcott Park is of a consistent high quality which can be sold and applied as an agricultural fertiliser.The facility also received a Certificate of Compliance by Organic Farmers & Growers Ltd, meaning that the digestate can be used by both conventional and organic farmers to provide nutrients and valuable organic matter to their crops.

The Westcott Park facility has the capacity to process 48,000 tonnes of food waste, from sources including the retail and catering sectors, each year and supplies the National Grid with enough electricity to power 6,000 homes.

As well as setting limits for physical contaminants, such as plastics, the PAS 110 standard requires pasteurisation of the material before or after it is digested at the AD facility. HRS designed and supplied a HRS 3 Tank Batch Sludge Pasteuriser System to pre-pasteurise the food waste feedstock before it is fed into one of the three digester tanks.

The system makes use of heat from the facility’s existing combined heat and power engine which would otherwise be wasted, helping to maximise the overall efficiency of the site. It also recovers heat from the hot feedstock which has been pasteurised and uses it to pre-warm the feedstock as it enters the pasteuriser system. This provides energy savings of up to 70 per cent.

Ray Nattrass, Head of Process Design & Engineering at Shanks Waste Management, said: We chose the HRS system because they offered a complete pasteurisation solution -we wanted the tanks, pumps, control system, control logic and everything built into that.

HRS demonstrated that they had the ability to design the facility as a standalone solution. It was their ability to do that which was key for us.”

Peter Eglinton, Managing Director of Shanks’ Municipal Division, commented:

“I am delighted that our Westcott Park AD facility has achieved this quality standard for our digestate product.By achieving PAS 110, we can assure our customers that our nutrient-rich digestate is recognised as best-in-class.By deploying the digestate back to land we are making more from waste and enhancing our position in the market as a leading waste-to-product company.”

Matt Hale, International Sales Manager for HRS, added:

“We are delighted to have helped Shanks achieve this important milestone in the commissioning and development of their AD facility at Westcott Park. Our 3 Tank Batch Sludge Pasteuriser System ensured that the facility complied with the requirements for treating Animal By-Products when it was fully commissioned last year. Now it has been an integral part of achieving PAS110 certification.

This article was first posted on the HRS Website in August 2015.

Are broccoli leaves the next kale?

Supermarket Asda has promoted the consumption of broccoli leaves on its blog, prompting some industry commentators to suggest that they could become the next ‘on trend’ green vegetable.

Writing for Asda Good Living, Alexia Dellner said, ‘Broccoli leaves are large (similar to chard), taste slightly sweet and are highly versatile. Usually left in the field and ploughed back into the land, American chefs and health bloggers have already clocked on to how delicious the leaves are and how easy they are to eat! Broccoli leaves can be boiled, steamed or sautéed – similar to how you would use kale. For an easy side dish, simply fry leaves in a little olive oil with garlic and you’re ready to go.’

Charlie Mills, Asda’s fresh produce manager told The Grocer, “We’re committed to tackling food waste at Asda and are constantly looking at our produce across the board to see where else we can make a difference. When we discovered the delicious taste of the broccoli leaf, coupled with its outstanding health benefits, we knew it was a clear winner to hit shelves.”

Photo Caption: Broccoli leaves could be the next green vegetable to hit supermarket shelves.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Asparagus growers crowd-fund celebratory feast

British asparagus growers have used a crowd-funding website to enable them to put on The Great British Asparagus Feast and, having reached their initial target of £7,000 are now aiming to raise a further £1,000.

The feast, which will be cooked by chefs Josh Eggleton, Jamie Randall and Seldon Curry, will be held near Temple Meads in Bristol next month and, according to the organisers, will be ‘a five course celebration of the short but oh so sweet British asparagus season!’

Asparagus grower Chris Chinn said, “This event is a terrific celebration of one of the country’s most special and precious seasonal crops. I’ll be joined by some of my fellow asparagus growers and several of the top chefs in the country for an asparagus feast.”

Chef Josh Eggleton added, “We’ll be celebrating British asparagus [with]a five or six course taster menu to celebrate the ingredient.”

Photo Caption: British Asparagus used Twitter to announce that it had reached its crowd funding target.

Photo Credit: British Asparagus

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Scottish farm incomes halve

The incomes of commercial farms in Scotland are estimated to have halved over the four years to 2014. The latest reduction in farm business income, a measure of the return to unpaid labour on commercial farms, continues a four year decline in average income.

Estimates from the Scottish Government’s annual Farm Accounts Survey show that average farm business income fell by a quarter (£8,000) between 2013 and 2014, to £23,000; the lowest level of FBI since the measure was introduced. Income has been falling since a peak in 2010. Since then, commercial farms have seen a decrease of 55 per cent (£28,000) from an average of £51,000.

The report shows that one in five farming businesses north of the border made a loss. The Scottish Government also warned that the decline could have continued since the statistics were compiled. ‘While cattle prices remained steady in 2015, milk, potato, cereal and lamb prices fell,’ it added.

Photo Caption: The Scottish Government building

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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Aldi to review pesticide policy

Aldi UK is to review its policy towards crop protection products with a particular emphasis on the use of neonicotinoids. According to the company, ‘The aim of this review is to establish an Aldi UK position on pesticide usage that will take our approach beyond the status quo, particularly in relation to pollinators.’

Campaign group Friends of the Earth said that the company had been under pressure after its German parent Aldi Süd banned eight pesticides – including three bee-harming neonicotinoids – from their fruits and vegetables following a campaign by Greenpeace Europe. The eight products banned by Aldi Süd are: thiamethoxam, chlorpyrifos, clothianidin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fipronil, imidacloprid and sulfoxaflor.

In the past some unilateral decisions on crop protection by certain retailers have been criticised by those who say it should be left to regulators to decide such matters. However, Friends of the Earth Bees campaigner Dave Timms said, “This review is welcome but Aldi’s new policy must include a strong commitment to keep neonicotinoid pesticides out of the production of its fruit, vegetable and cereals including wheat and oilseed rape.”

Photo Caption: Aldi is reviewing the pesticides that can be used on its produce

Photo Credit: Aldi

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UK houseplant sales up

Houseplants were the best performing traditional category at garden centres which are members of the Garden Centre Association (GCA) during February (2016).

Sales were up 29.83 per cent up compared to the same month last year (2015) according to the GCA’s Barometer of Trade (BoT) report. Other good performers were furniture and barbecues and the best performing non-traditional category was clothing.

Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, explained, “After a couple of months of good performances in clothing and gifts, it’s great to see the houseplants category now having its moment. When the winter weather is properly set in it is always nice to be able to bring some much needed colour into the home and one of the best ways to do this is with houseplants, particularly cyclamen and orchids. February was a particularly popular time for houseplants due to Valentine’s Day.”

However, other plant lines performed less strongly. Iain added, “Seeds and bulbs sales were just 3.76 per cent up, however this is expected to pick up in the following months when more people get out into their gardens.”

For the month of February the overall garden centre performance and Year to Date change showed an increase of 20.92 per cent.

The post UK houseplant sales up appeared first on Hort News on 23 March 2016.

£48m for farming research in Scotland

The Scottish Government has announced that more than £48 million will being invested in agricultural, food and environmental research during Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.

Announcing the move, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said, “Scotland is globally renowned as a land of science and innovation, and this funding will ensure we maintain our position at the very cutting edge of advances in agriculture, food and the environment. The Scottish Government continues to be a major funder of research in these fields, investing almost £50 million a year in research into crop science, animal health and welfare, human health and wellbeing and global challenges like food security and climate change.

Professor Louise Heathwaite, Chief Scientific Adviser for Rural Affairs and the Environment added, “This national capability benefits the whole Scotland, adding value through partnerships with other research funders such as the UK Research Councils and the EU; with other areas of scientific expertise in Universities; and with users of science such as the farming community.”

The main strategic themes of the research funded are natural assets; productive & viable rural economies and; food, health and wellbeing.

Photo Caption: Richard Lochhead

Photo Credit: Scottish Government

The post £48m for farming research in Scotland appeared first on Hort News on 23 March 2016.

Thanet Earth hires staff following scheme with Hadlow College

A second group of students from Hadlow College in Kent have graduated from the Movement to Work initiative at Thanet Earth, which is run in conjunction with the College’s Apprenticeships, Business and Community section.

Five of the participants, all of whom were selected for the scheme from the local area by Job Centre Plus, were offered full-time roles with the company after graduation. During the four week course the students to spent time working in all operational areas of the Thanet Earth business, together with in-house HACCP food safety training and sessions on interview skills and preparation of a CV with tutors from Hadlow.

Lesley Gregson, Hadlow College’s Lecturer in Employability Skills, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see the academy members’ confidence increase as the course progresses and the end result is fantastic: five people given the boost they needed to enter employment with a highly reputable local business.” The first group of five students graduated from the scheme last December.

The post Thanet Earth hires staff following scheme with Hadlow College appeared first on Hort News from 23 March 2016.

De-leafing robot unveiled for tomatoes

Priva has unveiled details of a new de-leafing robot which it says will be commercially available to growers next year.

The development of the robot, named the Tomation, has taken 15 years, partly because vision recognition technology needed to mature to the required standard. Ronald Zeelen from Priva explains, “This technology was a crucial factor in the development of the machine. It allows the robot to make a very fast analysis of the crops and the position of the leaves he has to pick. And that speed of the robot was a crucial factor; it had to work fast and efficient in order to make it economically viable to use a robot.”

Although currently not as fast as a person, this is made up by the fact that the robot can work around the clock and has a proper cutting action to detach the leaves, making it more effective in a single pass.

The post De-leafing robot unveiled for tomatoes appeared first on Hort News on 22 March 216.