The Bransford Webbs Plant
Company has announced that, working in conjunction with its in conjunction with
its waste collection contractor Smiths of Gloucester, it is now a zero to
As well as being at the
forefront of the industry initiative to replace black plastic pots with a taupe
kerbside-recyclable alternative, all the company’s waste which would
traditionally have gone to landfill, is now being diverted through other means,
including Energy from Waste (where it is burnt at over 850oC to
generate heat to produce electricity) and Refuse Derived from Fuel (produced by
sorting and processing solid general waste which is shredded and baled up to be
used as fuel). Any unburnt waste collects as bottom ash and can be used in
recycled building materials. In additional, all emissions from
energy-from-waste generation are carefully controlled.
In a statement, Bransford
Webbs said that were, “Very proud of their environmental credentials and have
achieved the BS8555 accreditation for environmental management for ten
consecutive years, having first achieved this important certification back in
2008. Our environmental objectives are reviewed and updated on an annual
Among other targets, the
company has reduced its use of peat, and catches and reuses all the rainwater
which falls on the glasshouses and buildings.
The Fresh Produce Journal reports
that consumer demand for soft fruit shows no signs of slowing down after the
sector recorded a volume increase of 3.3 per cent last year, while values rose
7.9 per cent.
The article quotes Jo
Mumford, business strategy analyst at fruit supplier AG Thames, as saying,
“Blueberries and raspberries have featured with ever-increasing frequency in
shoppers’ baskets, with the number of purchase occasions being a key driver of
change for the berry category. Nearly nine in ten households now buy berries during
the course of a year, which continues to show small uplifts as more and more
shoppers encounter their benefits.”
However, issues such as
labour availability and last year’s hot weather have caused issues for growers,
while fierce supermarket competition is putting prices under pressure. While
the growth seen in the category is significant, some analysts point out that it
is lower than that seen more than a decade ago when the berry craze began.
The Alexandra Rose Charity,
which supplies vouchers that low income families can buy fresh fruit and
vegetables, has teamed up with recipe box company HelloFresh to help provide
fruit and veg for families on low incomes who struggle to afford it.
This partnership will see
HelloFresh distribute leaflets, which tell the story of ‘Rose Voucher mum’
Lamratu, in its meal boxes until 29 March as part of HelloFresh’s mission to
help families eat more veg with every meal.
“Before I started receiving
Rose Vouchers my boys didn’t even know what fruit was because I couldn’t afford
to buy any fruit or vegetables” says Lamratu. A Rose Voucher Mum for the last
year, Lamratu has seen a huge improvement in her son’s health. After receiving
Rose Vouchers from her Hackney Children’s Centre, Lamratu gradually introduced
her children to an increasing variety of fruit and veg.
Andre Dupin, Head Chef at
HelloFresh said, “We want to help ensure that every family includes more fresh
fruit and veg into their diets – something that Alexandra Rose helps families
to achieve every day.”
Jonathan Pauling, Chief
Executive of Alexandra Rose Charity, added, “We are grateful that HelloFresh
have given their considerable weight to support our charity’s mission. 23 per
cent of parents in the UK worry about not having enough money to feed their
families. Partnering with HelloFresh means thousands more people are learning
about our work and how they can help us fund vouchers so we can reach even more
families in need.”
Photo Caption: HelloFresh
will distribute leaflets highlighting the work of the Alexandra Rose Charity in
its recipe boxes.
Aldi is to trial the sale
of five different brassica products in Scotland without plastic over the next
six weeks as part of its commitment to reduce packaging and plastic waste.
The retail has pledged to
reduce all packaging by half by 20125, compared to the level used in 2015, and
for 100 per cent of its own label packaging to be recyclable, reusable or
compostable by 2022 (where it does not have a detrimental effect on product
quality or safety, or increase food waste). It has also replaced black trays on
four fresh produce lines with clear alternatives which are easier to recycle.
The trial will see
cauliflowers and four types of cabbage; pointed, red, Savoy and white, sold
without plastic wrapping. If successful and rolled out across the UK, the
retailer says the move would take a further 110 tonnes of plastic out of the
Fritz Walleczek, Aldi UK
Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility, commented, “We’re working hard
to reduce plastic, but we also need to ensure that reducing packaging doesn’t
lead to unnecessary food waste. We’re hoping the outcome of this trial will be positive,
and something that we can roll out across the rest of the UK.”
Over the last year the
retailer claims to have replaced more than 2,500 tonnes of plastic with
recyclable alternatives across its supply base.
The Fluence brand of LED
lighting, produced by international lighting company Osram, is to begin
marketing its horticultural lighting range in Europe.
Founded in Texas in 2012,
Fluence Bioengineering was founded in Texas in 2012 and has seen rapid growth,
resulting in them now being one of the biggest players in the US and Canadian
horticultural industry. In particular their LED solutions are used in vertical
farming and legal cannabis cultivation, where it has the biggest share of the
market. Last year Fluence was purchased by German-based Osram, whose LED chips
were already used in Fluence products.
Timo Bongartz has been
appointed as the new EMEA manager. He says that while the company expects legal
cannabis production to grow in Europe, it is also looking to supply producers
of more traditional horticultural crops. “With every country following its own
rules, [cannabis]is not an easy market,” he points out.
The company has already
supplied lights to indoor farming company Bowery Farming, and Timo adds, “Our
RAZR and SPYDR solutions match the crop very well, and the companies match as
well. These type of growers are used to innovating and are open to new
developments .Therefore we also have a good fit with similar farms, especially in
the Nordics: Sweden, Finland, Denmark for example. The fact that we’re
supported by Osram gives them trust in our products as well.”
Photo Caption: In the
US and Canada Fluence has become a leading supplier of LEDs for legal cannabis
A new report warns that
British-grown fresh produce is at risk from climate change due to factors such
as a lack of water, unpredictable weather events and warmer average
Published last month by The
Climate Coalition: Recipe
for disaster: climate change threatens British-grown fruit and veg,cites
many of the supply issues caused by last year’s difficult growing conditions
and warns that they could become the new normal.
According to the authors,
who have drawn on research by the Priestley International Centre for Climate,
apple growers lost around 25% of their harvest in 2017 due to unexpectedly late
frosts. Carrot (down a reported 25-30%) and onion yields (reportedly down 40%
on a normal year) were hampered in 2018 by warmer than average temperatures.
Potato yields were down on average 20% in England and Wales in 2018 compared to
the previous season, making it the 4th smallest harvest since 1960.
Other crops which the report’s
authors say could suffer include grapes, cauliflower, lettuce and onions. Over
the last decade more than half of UK farmers say their business has been
affected by a severe climatic event.
Photo Caption: More
than half the farmers in the UK say they have experienced severe weather
The European Commission
will launch a new market observatory for fruit and vegetables later this year,
a move which it says will ‘bring greater transparency and analysis to [a]key
sector for European agriculture.’ It will also launch a market observatory for
wine at the same time.
Although fruit and
vegetables account for 2401 per cent of EU agricultural output, because the
fruit and vegetable sector comprises such a wide range of products, the focus
of the new observatory will be on tomatoes, apples, citrus fruit, peaches and
The Commission currently
has four observatories for crops (cereals, oilseeds and proteins), sugar, meat
and milk. As part of the plan sector experts will meet regularly to discuss the
state of the market.
Photo Caption: The
European Commission is to launch a new market observatory for fruits and
A team of researchers led
by Cardiff University has identified bacteria which could provide an effective
and safe biopesticide.
The Burkholderia group of
bacteria is known to protect crops against a number of diseases, but studies
linking them to serious lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF) in
the 1990s led to them being withdrawn from the market. By sequencing the
genomic DNA of the bacteria, the team was able to identify Burkholderia’s
antibiotic-making gene, Cepacin, and further testing demonstrated that Cepacin
offers highly effective protection against damping off in plants.
Using genetic engineering
techniques similar to those used to produce live vaccines, the researchers are
also exploring how to improve the safety of the bacteria. “Burkholderia split
their genomic DNA across 3 fragments, called replicons,” explained Professor
Mahenthiralingam, lead researcher on the project. “We removed the smallest of
these 3 replicons to create a mutant Burkholderia strain which, when tested on
germinating peas, still demonstrated excellent biopesticidal properties.”
Work with mice suggests that this mutant strain does not persist in the lungs, and the project, which also involved the Universities of Warwick and Liverpool, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, has now been awarded more than £1 million from BBSRC to help progress the next stage of research to develop an effective and safe biopesticide that does not build up to harmful levels in the environment.
Photo Caption: The
modified bacteria was shown to be effective against damping off in peas
The European Union says
that it expects European tomato production to fall in response to reducing
consumption across the region.
2018 production was 6.9
million tonnes, but a report on the EU’s agricultural prospects from 2018 to 2030
estimates that by 2030 this figure will drop to 6.7 million tonnes. Despite the
fall in production, yields are anticipated to increase, ‘thanks to the
installation of artificial light in the greenhouses and the extension of the
season in the most important producing countries.’
By 2030, domestic
consumption will fall from the current level 14.5kg per person to 13.6kg.
However, while fresh tomato exports from the EU have reduced 0.3% a year over
the last ten years, mainly due to the Russian produce veto in 2014. However the
report predicts that exports will increase to 200,000 tons by 2030. This is
1.6% more than the average of the past five years. Tomato imports, particularly
from Morocco and Turkey are expected to continue to grow by 0.4% per year until
While UK production only
accounts for 0.5% of total EU tomato production, it is the most important
market for EU tomatoes, currently accounting for 72% of total exports, most of
which come from the Netherlands and Spain.2
A new factsheet from AHDB
Horticulture summarises the attributes of the main varieties released in the
second tranche of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, as well as details
of promising selections developed during the same period.
Three varieties from the
second tranche (which started in 2013) are in the process of being commercialised.
The late-season June-bearer Malling Allure (EM2157) and the disease resistant
Everbearers Malling Champion (EMR564) and EMR639.
Malling Allure is described
as ‘a robust plant, with moderate vigour in comparison with other late-season
varieties.’ It is 10-12 days later than Elsanta and has fruit quality similar
to Malling Centenary. Malling Champion is ‘an early season Everbearer,
which produces its peak harvest in July and picks steadily through August.’ It
is resistant to crown rot (Phytophthora
cactorum) and wilt (Verticillium
dahliae) and shows moderate resistance to powdery mildew (Podosphaera aphanis), as
Six other selections from
the programme are due to advance to large scale grower trials, including two
June-bearers and four Everbearers. The East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club
(EMSBC) was formed in 2008 to continue the national strawberry programme that
began at East Malling Research in 1983. The second tranche of AHDB-funded work
runs until 2023.