Category Archives: Uncategorized

Albert Bartlett celebrates birthday with packaging revamp

Potato supplier Albert Bartlett is to celebrate its 70thanniversary with a new ‘retro’ packaging design for its Rooster potato range and a customer competition featuring an exclusive dinner cooked by Chef Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche in London.

Albert Bartlett & Sons (Airdrie) Ltd, was founded by Albert Bartlett in 1948 when he moved to Coatbridge from Clydeside and invested in £30 in an old water boiler and cast iron bath to set up a beetroot boiling operation. In 1957 the company moved to Airdrie, and instigated a number of notable ‘firsts,’ including the first pre-packed carrots and the launch of the original ‘Scotty Brand’.

In 1978 the company began to supply fresh carrots, onions and potatoes to various supermarkets, with further evolution coming in 2007 when the potato and carrot operations were split into separate companies. Today Albert Bartlett supplies a range of fresh, prepared and frozen potato products from sites across the UK.

Albert Bartlett head of marketing Michael Jarvis says, “Albert Bartlett remains a family-run company and we are delighted with the manner in which it has grown from selling beetroot to the local market to be a leading supplier of fresh and frozen potatoes. As we now diversify into chilled potato products in our seventieth year, we look forward to continued success. We believe Albert would be very proud.”

Photo Caption: Winners of the anniversary competition on bags of Rooster potatoes will enjoy dinner at Le Gavroche in London.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Albert Bartlett celebrates birthday with packaging revamp appeared first on Hort News on 30 August 2018.

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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Scottish farm debt hits record level

Scottish farmers owe more money to banks than at any time since records began in 1972, according to a report.

Outstanding loans to Scottish farms were more than £2.3 billion by the end of May, up £113 million (or 5%) on the previous period. Other finance, such as hire purchase agreements, family loans and other borrowing could account for a further £1.1 billion according to estimates.

Some commentators have questioned whether widely reported delays in farm payments by the Scottish Government have contributed to the figures, but Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing tried to put a positive spin on the figures: “It is vital that Scottish farmers can continue to access capital to invest in their businesses. These statistics show that banks are still lending to farmers, which is a sure sign of confidence in the sector,” he said.

“However, with many farmers relying on subsidies for a large part of their income, we must be wary of farmers getting into excessive and unmanageable debt.”

There is a similar pattern to agricultural borrowing in the rest of the UK, with figures from the Bank of England showing that in May 2017, the UK agricultural, field sports and forestry sector had an outstanding debt of £18.5 billion, up 57% since 2010.

The post Scottish farm debt hits record level appeared first on Hort News on 28 Sept 2017.

Cobrey Farms cut their first asparagus

Cobrey Farms and Wye Valley Produce cut their first spears of English asparagus last week, around the usual period for the start of the season.

Cobrey Farms’ Chris Chinn explained that while the timing was later than last year, “Last year was exceptionally early; this is more the norm for the first cut.” The season begins with limited volumes of green asparagus, but as volumes pick up into April, organic crops, as well as purple and white varieties will become available.

The demand for this most seasonal of UK crops is expected to be as strong as ever, with little or no competition in the market from imported produce.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

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Produce Investments sees profits fall

Produce Investments, the parent company of potato packer Greenvale, has said that it will close the recently acquired Kent Potato Company after a metal contamination incident at its prepared foods business could remove between £300,000 and £1.5 million from its results next year. In its latest results revenues fell from £191.8 million last year to £178.4 million.

The AIM-listed company is still investigating the issue at its Swancote Foods subsidiary in Shropshire, after a mechanical failure resulted in the recall of potato salad and ready meal products across a range of customers.

In a statement the company said; “Following a recent review of potato packing operations, the company is proposing to transfer all packing and associated operations from its site in Kent to sites in Cambridgeshire and Scotland. Regrettably, this would mean the closure of The Kent Potato Company site with associated redundancies.”

The company has won a three-year agreement at a fixed margin with one of its main retail customers. However, the deal has come with a reduction in overall volume from next July.
Chief executive Angus Armstrong said; “While this reduction…is clearly disappointing, we are extremely pleased to have achieved this arrangement, a first for our business, a signal of market confidence in Produce Investments and a positive step forward.

“Consequently, as a result of the reduction in volume, the company is currently reviewing its requirements across its packing facilities, aligning capacity to forecast sales and therefore ensuring that the business remains efficient and cost competitive.”

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Bayer and Farm Frites work on sustainable spuds

Bayer CropScience and Farm Frites have begun a Food Chain Partnership initiative which is designed to implement sustainable agricultural practices in potato cultivation in the Netherlands and Belgium.

According to the companies, the goal of the partnership is to support a bottom-up approach with potato farmers addressing value-adding sustainable potato-growing practices at individual farm level.

“Potato is a valuable crop for farmers in western Europe and a key raw material for the potato processing industry, for example for flakes, mash and French fries,” said Leon Boer, Director Potato Procurement of Farm Frites. “Therefore, the implementation of sustainable practices is a must for local farmers. With this collaboration we want to enable our contract growers to consistently meet our high-quality standards and stay competitive.”

As part of the initiative, Bayer CropScience will share its expertise in potato agronomy and sustainability measures. “Bayer CropScience’s contribution to sustainable agriculture is at the core of our business supporting our customers with innovative solutions, proactive stewardship and partnerships,” explained Silke Friebe, Head of Food Chain Management at Bayer CropScience. “Our core competencies lie in developing and supplying integrated crop solutions that are locally adapted and tailored to the individual needs of our customers. The common goal is to help drive a sustainable productivity increase and to improve crop quality.”

Five pilot farms, three in Belgium and two in the Netherlands, which supply their harvests to Farm Frites, have been selected for the coming potato season. The two Dutch farms are also members of the Skylark foundation, cooperation between arable farmers and food processors aimed at promoting greater sustainability in agricultural production. All partners are striving to align this Food Chain Partnership initiative closely with the Skylark foundation methodology.

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Dutch strategic greenhouse horticulture research has joint benefits

Dutch growers and researchers have bounced back from the cancellation of joint financing via the Product Board for Horticulture and the formation of a ‘Club of 100’ continues to grow with around 40 supply companies now closely involved in strategic research into greenhouse horticulture at Wageningen University.

Wageningen needed to adapt following the loss of central funding and developed a model, based on that used by many gyms and sports clubs, to allow the supply industry to become more involved in research. Each participant signs a two-year commitment agreement for a contribution of €15,000 a year. “The companies can spend half of these funds on their own research issues. The other half allows them have their say about the direction of our strategic applied research”, says Sjaak Bakker, manager of Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture. “Additionally they are on top of the latest innovations and benefit from the ‘chemistry’ that develops within the network at the half-yearly meetings. Companies that would normally be competitors now meet in a very different environment, and it is having surprising results.”

“It is heart-warming to see how many people believe in the importance of research”, comments team leader Jan-Willem de Vries. “Some have even volunteered to act as ambassador. It has really energised us.”

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New polytunnel roof fan from Northern Polytunnels

Northern Polytunnels has introduced a new roof fan to help remove excessive heat from polytunnels and polythene clad greenhouses.

Usually used with a temperature switch, the fan can remove 4,600m³/hr (2,700cfm) of air and is supplied with a mesh guard on the inlet. It is installed by cutting out a 30-35cm hole in the polytunnel cover. The fan is then inserted from the inside in a rotating motion, and clipped on to the support bars. Northern Polytunnels says that the seal around the 7.5 kg unit is watertight, even in extreme weather conditions.

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New early warning system for apple canker

Agrovista has added a new apple canker forecasting model to its Growers Choice Interactive disease forecasting service. The new model informs growers whether their orchards are infected, and if so at what level, by monitoring factors that can cause outbreaks, including rainfall, leaf wetness, temperature and tree wounds.

Agrovista fruit agronomist Alex Radu explains, “Accurate information is essential to produce reliable model outputs. This is provided by high-quality Plantsystems weather stations that GCI growers lease, similar to the existing scab and codling moth models they are familiar with.”

Information is forwarded every 15 minutes to a central server. The software model, based on RIMpro pest and disease prediction software, integrates this with information on canker’s lifecycle stored in the program. The resulting graph shows spore germination, relative numbers of spores on wounds and a resulting infection value.

While pruning cuts, bud burst, petal fall and fruit drop are all risk periods, the biggest danger comes at leaf fall in the autumn adds Alex: “If there are few fresh wounds then treatment may not be needed, regardless of infection value, but if wound levels are significant and the trend is rising and coinciding with a high infection value, treatment should be considered.”

It is hoped that the new model will reduce the need for prophylactic spray treatments in the autumn, reducing costs and improving the environmental footprint of apple production.

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