Monthly Archives: October 2017

BerryWorld creates Spanish subsidiary

The BerryWorld group has expanded its PrepWorld subsidiary to Spain, creating what it says is a fresh-cut fruit supplier with a ‘distinctly Spanish twist and flair.’

The new Valencia-based company is a joint venture with Spanish soft fruit grower and exporter Surexport Compañia Agraria. It will be headed up by general manager Pepe Morant, who has extensive experience of fresh produce in both Spain and the UK, most recently as General Manager of Del Monte Spain.

“We have been evaluating the potential of establishing a Spanish prepared fruit business with our partners at Surexport for a number of years,” said BerryWorld’s managing director Ben Olins. “We believe that the factors that have made PrepWorld successful in the UK, a focus on quality, innovation and high technical standards, will work well in the Spanish market.”

Surexport managing director Andres Morales added: “With the expertise of our partners in a more mature market for prep and our knowledge in production and premium varieties, we will bring delicious, high-quality, healthy products to the Spanish consumer.”

Photo Credit: BerryWorld

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Waitrose expands recipe box trial

Following a successful trial, Waitrose is extending the roll-out of its Cook Well from Waitrose recipe box scheme.

The retailer says that its chefs and nutritionists have worked together to develop easy to prepare meals that are nutritionally balanced, with no red traffic lights for saturated fat, sugar and salt. Each meal also provides at least one of the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

The service has been created in conjunction with tech consultancy ThoughtWorks and has both one-off and weekly subscription customers. Boxes contain pre-portioned, bagged ingredients for easy storage and minimal waste and step-by-step recipe cards, and are delivered to customers’ homes free of charge.

Archie Mason, Head of Business Development at the John Lewis Partnership commented, “Waitrose was the first supermarket to develop a recipe box scheme which went live in March this year to selected customers. We have been greatly encouraged by the initial response with customers. We have taken their feedback on board, adding more delicious healthy recipes this month along with an additional delivery day and from October, the option to order a box for a family of four.

Photo Credit: Waitrose

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New CEO for HM. Clause

HM.Clause has announced the appointment of Rémi Bastien as its new Chief Executive Officer, from the beginning of September 1. In his role, Mr. Bastien will also serve as chair of the company’s Global Strategy Team, the governing body that is responsible for crafting and executing the company’s long term roadmap. He will be Portes-les-Valence in France and will split his time between France and the firm’s US headquarters in Davis, California.

Mr. Bastien comes to HM.Clause from Limagrain Europe, where he was CEO, while also serving as President of the Union Française des Semenciers (UFS) maize section. Before that he was the Regional Director of Europe and Africa for Mérieux Nutrisciences, a company that specializes in food safety and quality. He has also worked for Monsanto and Pioneer Seeds.

“I see great value in this cooperative approach to governance because it promotes a culture of partnership, which in turn emphasizes collaboration and teamwork throughout the company,” said Mr Bastien. “I am thrilled to be taking the helm as CEO of HM.Clause, a company that I believe stands out in the competitive landscape as one of the most respected and trusted in the industry.”

 Photo Caption: Rémi Bastien will be based at HM Clause’s offices at Portes-les-Valence.

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Are dogs the future of pest detection?

Large Canadian greenhouse grower NatureFresh™ Farms has adopted a novel approach to pest management: using a Belgian Shepherd dog named Chili to identify the first signs of infestation.

The move came following an outbreak of Pepper Weevil (Anthonomus eugenii) in the autumn of 2016. Due to the nature of the pest, it cannot be spotted by humans and, once an outbreak is established, no available biological control methods are capable of controlling the pest.

Cam Lyons, Research and Development and IPM Technician comments, “Dogs are a very intelligent animal. Many worker dogs are trained to recognize and discover scents associated with drugs or bombs, so it seemed possible to train a dog to recognize pepper weevil.”

After research, the company adopted 15-month old Chili who underwent 8 weeks of training before being certified by The American Working Dog Association. This certification allows Chili to work in the farm without any food safety concerns. When Chili detects the scent of Pepper Weevil she will sit and stare at the location of the pest.

Peter Quiring, NatureFresh™ Farms Owner and CEO, added, “In order to continue to grow it is essential to develop new strategies and look beyond conventional methods. We encourage our team to think outside the box and test any ideas they may have; no idea is considered too crazy.”

Photo Caption: Cam Lyons, IPM scout and dog handler Tina Heide, and Chili.

Photo Credit: NatureFresh Farms

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Scottish growers depend on migrants

A television documentary has helped the Scottish soft fruit industry highlight the importance of migrant labour.

The episode of the BBC documentary Landward visited Sylvia and James Clarke who grow 100 acres of fruit and vegetables in polytunnels at Wester Hardmuir near Nairn, as well as large fruit grower Ross Mitchell from Castleton Farm near Laurencekirk in Angus. The Clarkes employ some 20 students a year from countries including Poland, Lithuania and Slovakia, while Castleton Farm needs around 600 seasonal workers every year.

The programme followed a roundtable meeting in Edinburgh organised by the Migration Advisory Committee. Following the meeting, NFU Scotland horticulture committee chairman James Porter, who grows soft fruit as part of a mixed farming enterprise at East Scryne, said, “Access to workers remains a key priority, particularly for some very successful parts of our industry that are overwhelmingly dependent on non-UK harvest labour. For our soft fruit and vegetable sectors, there must be mechanisms put in place to allow access to those workers next year and ensure workers will be able to come to Scotland post-Brexit, in spring 2019.”

“This year, there has been a shortage of between 10 and 20% of seasonal workers coming from the EU – partly because of exchange rates, but also because of increasing affluence in other parts of the EU. This will get worse year on year.”

Photo Credit: PxHere

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A World of Carrots in One Room

More than 550 people from around the world applied to attend Bejo’s Carrot Symposium in September 2017. In fact, so many people were interested in the event which had the theme of Taste, Health & Innovation that we had to split the event into two groups, with delegates from Eastern Europe and Asia attending on the first day, and those from the rest of the world (principally Western Europe, the Americas and Australasia) taking part on the second day.

As you would expect, networking was also a key part of the day and the breaks were packed with people catching up with old acquaintances, making new contacts and discussing the presentations in more depth. Activities also spilled over the rest of Bejo’s annual Open Days, with carrot harvesting demonstrations and a carrot taste trial also being carried out on the Demo Fields, alongside demonstrations of the latest carrot varieties from our extensive global portfolio.


Carrots are one of the most important vegetable crops globally, with China producing the largest area (130,000 ha), followed by the United States (78,000 ha), Russia (25,000 ha) and Brazil (22,250 ha). As you would expect, with so many different types and varieties available, carrots are sold in a variety of different formats around the world. However, despite the diversity, Nantes types are the most popular representing 40% of total global production. Other types such as Imperator, Flakkee, Berlicum, Chantenay and Kuroda are particularly popular in different regions (such as Kuroda in Japan) or for different uses (such as Imperator and Berlicum types for processing.

Another reason for the diversity of carrot types and production methods is that they are almost unique in being a vegetable that can be used for every part of a meal, something that was demonstrated during the lunch break when carrot soup, carrot slaw and salad, and carrot cake were all available. With carrots also forming the basis of many juice drinks and or smoothies, they really are the most versatile food available.

Globally a third of all carrot production is exported, while for countries like the Netherlands, Israel and Denmark, up to half their total crop is sold abroad. Maintaining such markets require attention to detail at all stages of the growing and supply chain, beginning with seed quality and sowing the crop. “We don’t sell carrots, we sell reliability,” stressed Israeli Crop Consultant Amos Yeger, adding that most of the country’s exports are sold to Eastern Europe, and Russia in particular.


There is increasing interest in Imperator types in different regions around the world, but Canada and the United States of America are still the main market for this type of carrot. To cater for this market Bejo is working on a dedicated Imperator breeding program, alongside its other carrot breeding, which is being led by US-based breeder carrot breeder Rob Maxwell. “We have got the shape and the eating quality, but I want to improve disease resistance, especially given the growth in organic production that we are seeing,” he said. The program has led to a number of new varieties, with a number of new varieties, including four ‘cut and peel’ types due to be released commercially over the next two years.


Dr Richard De Leth

While breeders like Rob and Bejo’s Carrot Breeding Manager Wim Zwaan are busy selecting the healthiest and best new varieties, it falls to experts in the Seed Pathology and Seed Technology departments of Bejo to ensure that the seed of these varieties which is supplied to growers around the world is both healthy, and of the highest quality, including any treatments which the grower may specify. Bejo’s Seed Pathology Research Lead, Bert Compaan, explained that a wide range of different tests are performed on every batch of seed from around the world before anything is sold. Bejo’s seed laboratories offer a range of treatments, including disinfection, coating and priming. The latest innovation is B-Mox seed treatment, a type of enhanced priming which improves germination, establishment, and ultimately crop quality, and carrots are one of the first crops in Bejo’s portfolio to benefit from the technology. “B-Mox goes further than basic priming,” explained Bert. “B-Mox is a form of enhanced priming in combination with an innovative seed coating which gives better uniformity and an improved pack out to the grown crop.”

In order for breeders and seed scientists to keep ahead of an ever-developing disease threat, it is important that plant pathologists share their latest findings. It was therefore extremely interesting to hear Dr Adrian Fox of Fera Science Ltd in the United Kingdom discussing the latest work on carrot viruses which his team has undertaken. He explained that until 2012 there had only been a number of limited studies in Europe, with most of the focus on the Carrot Motley Dwarf complex of viruses and Carrot Yellow Leaf virus.

More recently attention has turned to identifying the causes of internal browning of carrot roots which is caused by viruses and can lead to significant rejections of fresh and processed products. At the same time Carrot Necrotic Dieback Virus (which has been known as Parsnip Yellow Fleck Virus until very recently) has also become more economically important for growers. With some plants having multiple virus infections, “Trying to separate which viruses lead to which symptoms can be difficult,” Dr Fox stressed, pointing out that there is lots more work for pathologists to do in order to fully understand these complex diseases.


There are sound health reasons for including carrots in the diet, and Dutch Doctor and Nutritionist Dr Richard De Leth explained several of them. For example, carotenoids stimulate the immune system and can protect the body from the effects of sunlight and cardiovascular disease. As part of a high fibre diet carrots can also help to reduce the risk of diseases including type-2 diabetes, colon cancer and stroke.


To help promote consumption Bejo works closely with all parts of the supply chain explained Marketing & Communication Advisor Danielle Bruin. “We work with partners on various projects in the chain and our sales staff and breeders are in close contact with each other. We prefer to develop and introduce new products and concepts with our customers.” Some of these recent introductions, which are becoming more popular around the world in different markets, include coloured and snacking carrots, as well as a number of varieties suitable for Bejo’s Cool Carrot Candy concept. These are varieties such as Mokum, White Satin and Ibiza, which have their own consistent and characteristic sweet and aromatic flavour with a crunchy bite and eye-catching appearance.

Picture Credits: Bejo Zaden BV.

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Morrisons’ veg boxes proving popular

Supermarket Morrisons has launched two new value veg boxes, one priced at £3 (although it was launched at a promotional price of just £1) and a larger one at £5. The smaller box is available online, with the larger one in stores.

Morrisons vegetable buyer Andy Todd said, “We’ve listened to our customers who told us they want even more affordable veg. They are a great way for our customers to buy British or eat seasonally or feed the family for the week.” The retailer says the £5 box contains enough vegetables to feed a family of four for four or five days. The seasonal products include items such as carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, with many lines being slightly misshapen or out of specification for other products. Produce is currently sourced from up to 60 British growers, but the retailer said that the new line would not be exclusively British in origin.

Photo Credit: Morrisons

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Still places on RPA/EA workshop on reservoir grants

The UK Irrigation Association has highlighted that there are still places on the next joint RPA and EA workshop on capital grants for irrigation reservoirs, which will be held in Hereford on October 18.

The Water Resource Management capital grants are worth up to 40 per cent of the cost towards construction of an irrigation reservoir and are available for arable and horticultural businesses.  The grants are designed to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation, and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by constructing on-farm reservoirs and related systems, and the deadline for new grant applications is 3 April 2018.

The workshop will explain the grants and how to apply, covering the level of grant available, project eligibility and issues around abstraction licence application. To book, or for more information, please email The timing and venue details will be provided upon booking. More details can be found in the handbook available here.

Photo Credit:

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