Tag Archives: business

Dry weather costs industry £800 million

The latest forecast for Total Farm Income (TFI) for the United Kingdom for 2018, produced by Defra, shows a fall of £861 million (or 15 per cent) compared to the actual figure for 2017, while the industry’s contribution to the national economy falls 6 per cent.

Despite a slight increase in gross output, the release says that the output of key crops fell as a result of the hot, dry summer and that the resulting increase in prices failed to offset the overall fall in production. At the same time costs of inputs including fuel, feed and fertiliser all rose over the same period.

As the figures are a forecast, detailed information by sector, such as vegetables, horticultural crops and potatoes, is not yet available. The final figures released for TFI in 2017 showed a real terms increase of 45 per cent.

Photo Credit: Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs

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Carrot trade better than expected

Carrot grower and supplier Freshgro has said that carrot crop volume and quality are currently better than had been anticipated earlier in the season.

“We may be looking at a slightly shorter season and may have to import earlier than normal, but we are still out looking at the fields to see how the growth is coming along,” Alan Hunt from Freshgro said. “We are hoping that we will have carrots until mid-May but it might be only till the end of April.

“It is a lot better than we thought it would be. We thought we’d be short of 40 mm plus sizes, but that has not been the case. There were less carrots, so the sizes are better.” However, he stressed that he was only able to speak for Nottinghamshire-based Freshgro, which was able to irrigate its crops. He also said that the hot weather over the summer had subdued demand, meaning that it was possible to supply the crop for longer than first anticipated.

Freshgro is known as a grower of Chantenay carrots and Alan said the situation is the same for both Chantenay and maincrop types.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Results down for Manor Fresh

M&S potato and fresh produce supplier Manor Fresh, which is based near Holbeach in Lincolnshire, has reported a turnover of £57 million for the year ending 28 April 2018, almost £3 million less than the previous year. The lower figures were put down to increased potato volumes subduing the market.

However, profits only declined from £1.6 to £1.5 million over the same period. The company estimated the potato harvest in 2017 at 6.04 million tonnes, compared with 5.2 million in 2016 and 5.4 million in 2015.

‘Although an increasingly significant proportion of the UK fresh potato and processed potato supply volumes are now forward contracted by buyers on a fixed value and volume basis, the higher gross tonnage produced from the 2017 UK crop harvest did put downward pressure on non-contracted product prices in some sectors of the UK potato market,’ the Manor Fresh board said in a statement. ‘Despite higher overall total gross potato yields produced during the 2017 UK potato harvest, the inherent quality and availability of certain top tier UK produced potato varieties, particularly Maris Piper, remained a significant sourcing challenge for higher quality retail outlets.’

Photo Credit: Manor Fresh

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Sainsbury’s and Asda call for more time from regulator

Sainsbury’s and Asda have lodged an application with the Competition Appeal Tribunal for a Judicial Review of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Phase Two investigation into their proposed merger.

The application seeks to review the timetable for the CMA’s investigation after the regulator refused the two supermarkets longer to respond to evidence about their proposed £7.3 billion merger.

In a statement J Sainsbury plc said, ‘The current timetable does not give the Parties or the CMA sufficient time to provide and consider all the evidence given the unprecedented scale and complexity of the case. Both Parties have engaged constructively with the CMA to date and have made repeated requests for additional time. Specifically, we have asked the CMA for an additional 11 working days over the Christmas period to respond to a large amount of material recently provided to us.’

Sainsbury’s shares fell by up to 5.5 per cent on the news according to Reuters.

In response to the original request for an additional 11 days to respond over the Christmas period, the CMA granting an extension would put its ability to complete the investigation by the required deadline “at very serious risk”. It added, “As with all of our merger reviews, we construct our timetable to ensure that everyone has the chance to have their say, including customers, the companies involved and suppliers.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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Bayer Monsanto broccoli patent revoked

The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a patent held by Bayer for traditionally-bred easy-to-harvest broccoli.

The patent was originally awarded to Monsanto in 2013 for broccoli plants with an “extend head” which made them easier to harvest. However the following year an opposition to the patent was filed by a group of organisations.

The cancellation of the patent follows new rules introduced last year by the EPO which stated that patents can no longer be granted on plants or animals derived via conventional breeding techniques such as crossing and selection.

The move was welcomed by campaign group No Patents on Seeds, which had protested about the original patent with a giant head of broccoli and a 75,000 signature petition. “This is an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organisations against patents on plants and animals,” said the group’s Christoph Then. “Without our activities, the EPO rules would not have been changed and the patent would still be valid. The giant corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta and BASF, have failed in their attempt to completely monopolise conventional breeding through using patents.” However, the group added that issues remain, following the rejection of opposition to patent for barley varieties held by Carlsberg and Heineken.

Jason Rutt, a patent attorney at law firm Boult Wade Tennant, added, “There are a plethora of other seed cases maturing at the EPO and it will be fascinating to see how this decision impacts them.” The post Bayer Monsanto broccoli patent revoked appeared first on Hort News.

Worldwide fruit could stockpile fruit if ‘no deal Brexit’

Worldwide Fruit has said that it could consider stockpiling fruit in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal being agreed, although such a step would not be ideal and is full of complications.

Talking to the Fresh Produce Journalat the National Fruit Show in October, Worldwide’s technical and procurement director Tony Harding warned that without a suitable trade and customs deal there was a real danger that supply chains could break down.

Mitigation strategies being considered by the fruit supplier, which sells imported and UK fruit, included stockpiling, although Harding acknowledged that a lack of storage capacity and technical challenges to preserve fruit quality would make such an approach extremely difficult.

“It’s not an ideal solution at all,” he said. “What we hope to see is some kind of workable status quo in terms of how we currently do business.”

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Berry Gardens aims to double business

Berry Gardens chief executive Jacqui Green has revealed that the soft- and stonefruit cooperative plans to double its turnover to £700 million by the mid-2020s.

Her comments came during a discussion of the business and the overall industry with FJP editor Michael Barker at the FPJ Live event in Coventry last week. The expansion, which comes along with previously announced plans for new and improved production facilities, is part of the company’s PICK initiative, which stands for People; Innovation; Collaboration and Knowledge.

“We’ve got some really ambitious growth plans, and maybe Brexit might have a big influence on it, but we’re looking to double the size of the business by the mid-2020s,” said Jacqui. “We’d [previously]looked at the future and it wasn’t comfortable. A lot of growth has been grower-driven.”

She added that thanks to their healthy eating message, berries had the potential to compete with unhealthy confectionery and snacks and that this was where she saw most future growth in consumption coming from.

Photo Caption: Jacqui Green speaking at FPJ Live

Photo Credit: Richard Crowhurst

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Produce Investments loses contract

Press reports suggest that major potato supplier Produce Investments, which owns Greenvale AP, Swancote Foods and The Jersey Royal Company, has lost one of its key contracts.

According to Food Manufacture, the unnamed customer plans to implement a ‘single supplier strategy’ and so Produce Investments will not be offered a new contract when its existing one expires next August, with product volume expected to be gradually phased over three years from that date.

A spokesman for Produce Investments said, “While naturally disappointed with the outcome of this decision, this is part of the ordinary course of business in the sector in which the company operates. The board will continue to work hard to drive new business and mitigate over time any negative impact this decision may have on the company’s operations.”

The news came just days before new Greenvale managing director Andy Clarkson, who has been promoted from customer operations director, was due to address the FPJ Live conference in Coventry. On his appointment, Mr Clarkson commented, “I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue the development of the Greenvale business. We have a great team internally and externally and I am very much looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.”

Last month Produce Investments accepted a £52.95 million takeover from Jersey-based investment company Bidco, which will delist the group from the stock market.

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Food-to-go outperforms groceries sector

According to the latest sales insights from IGD, the UK’s food-to-go sector is set to grow at twice the rate of overall grocery retail, increasing to £22.8 billion by 2023, up from £17.8 billion this year.

Gavin Rothwell, Head of Food-to-Go at IGD, says: “The food-to-go market remains a strong growth opportunity that continues to provide a great source of inspiration and innovation. We’re forecasting solid growth across each of the five segments, but this will become harder to come by for operators, retailers and suppliers amid an increasingly competitive landscape. But while growth will slow, we’re expecting it to remain strong as more consumers buy food-to-go more often and as more operators target different types of locations and missions.”

He added, “Across food-to-go, collaboration between partners with the same values and mutually beneficial propositions, have been in the ascendance. Crussh and Sainsbury’s, M&S and Wasabi are two high profile collaborations, but there are already many more underway and we expect significant development here. Larger retail stores undergoing remodelling in particular offer some great opportunities for collaborations between retailers and food-to-go partners.”

The sector’s ability to evolve with changing consumer demands in health and wellness and around sustainability is increasingly critical to its success he added: “The best food-to-go operators are highly attuned to the wider mindset of their shoppers. They have responded to shape their wider propositions accordingly. Increasingly this will become expected by food-to-go consumers, and those that don’t keep up will stand out.”

Photo Caption: By continuing to adapt, the food-to-go sector will continue to grow says IGD.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The post Food-to-go outperforms groceries sector appeared first on Hort News on 6 September 2018.

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.