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
The post Berry Gardens aims to double business appeared first on Hort News.
A new cherry protection system, which the manufacturers claim can be opened and closed in minutes, is heading to European orchards having been successfully used in Chile.
Wayki Solutions says that a single worker can cover, or remove, on hectare in just 20 minutes, much less time than is required with most other systems, including automated ones. The system uses a normal hand drill to turn the winding mechanism, which in turn opens and closes the covers, which sit above the existing orchard poles.
Cristián Lopez of Wayki Europe said, “Around the world, we are experiencing more and more severe and unexpected weather conditions. This has serious implications for the fruit business as it raises the possibility of events including rain and hail damaging fruit, and high winds damaging growing infrastructure such as poles and cables. Wayki is a very exciting development because it gives growers the control to cover and uncover their orchards and vineyards in a matter of minutes in response to these events.”
As well as cherries, the company believes that the cover system may have applications for crops including blueberries, apples and other soft fruit, and different types of cover can be fitted.
Photo Credit: pixabay
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Improving the drainage of container-grown blueberry crops can improve both fruit quality and yield according to the manufacturers of a new hydroponic tool.
The Spacer Hydropot system from Spanish company Hydroponic Systems improves root development, and therefore overall plant growth. It consists of a polypropylene gutter which raises the growing bag off the ground, and a 30×30 cm ‘tray’ which supports the bag. The system ensures air movement and drainage below the roots, while keeping them contained in the growing media.
“It allows blueberry growers to obtain all the advantages of our system: the optimum aeration between the substrate and drains, the prevention of root exit from the substrate and its contact with drainage,” explains Maria Gimenez Lopez from Hydroponic Systems. “Thanks to the easy installation and disinfection and the efficient drainage circulation, the diseases decrease – offering eventually a production that’s both higher in quality and quantity.
“This system evolved from systems having the pot resting directly on the ground to using different supports (such as polystyrene or bricks) up until the current Spacer Hydropot. Bricks or polystyrene do not allow aeration between the substrate and the drains and as a consequence the roots leave the substrate.”
Photo Caption: Diagram showing the support structure, here used in conjunction with a gutter drain.
Photo Credit: Hydroponic Systems
The post New system improves blueberry production appeared first on Hort News on 26 September 2018.
Plant breeders and scientists from Scotland’s James Hutton Institute at Invergowrie near Dundee are working to develop new varieties of raspberries which have more consistent flavour whatever the weather during the growing season.
However, different consumer perceptions and preferences mean that the task is not always straightforward. Research has shown that men, women and the young and old all have different views on what a raspberry should taste like, and that these differences can affect overall sales of the popular berry.
Project leader Dr Julie Graham told The Scotsman, “If a consumer buys raspberries that they don’t like, some won’t go back and buy the fruit for the rest of the season. Others won’t go back for several weeks. A negative eating experience does have a big impact on purchasing. We also want to understand why the environment has such a big effect on the flavour.
“Typically, the younger you are, the sweeter you want your raspberries. As people get older, they tend to want a balance between sugar and acid. Then there is also a gender divide. Speaking generally, men tend to like a bit of balance and then women like it sweeter. However, that again is affected by age profile. It is really quite interesting what people want in flavour.”
The research facility is now working with New Zealand’s Delytics Ltd in order to provide better guidance and exactly when to harvest the fruit to growers.
Photo Caption: Different consumers have different ideas of what a raspberry should taste like
Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures
The post Scottish scientists working to improve raspberry flavour appeared first on Hort News on 5 September 2018.
Kent-based fruit supplier Peaty Mills plc is working with frozen fruit specialist Nice Fruit, which last year transferred its base of operations from Catalonia to Andorra, to introduce a new freezing method which the companies say preserves peak ripeness.
The company, which currently specialises in canned and prepared fruit and vegetables, says that the colour, texture, flavour, aroma and nutrients of the fruit are kept fully preserved for up to three years. The fruit can be defrosted in one hour with no loss of quality and then has a 48-hour shelf life.
Fruit available currently in the range includes pineapple, melon, mango, and others, as well as snack-ready packs, individual portion packs, multi-portion bags and now individual pineapple spears in foil packs to be eaten like ice lollies. The company says that single serving bags are proving very popular in fast food outlets like coffee shops.
Photo Caption: Peaty Mills plc says its new freezing method can keep fruit in excellent condition for up to three years.
Photo Credit: AHDB Horticulture
The post New freezing method preserves fruit for longer appeared first on Hort News on 20 August 2018.
A robotics development company which started life as a spin-out of the University of Plymouth is to trial a revolutionary raspberry picking robot with the Hall Hunter Partnership.
Fieldwork Robotics is now part-owned by AIM-listed Frontier IP group PLC, which saw its shares rise 5.7 per cent on the news that they would be working with Hall Hunter Partnership which grows 14,000 tonnes of soft fruit, including raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and blueberries for customers including Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.
“Hall Hunter are the UK’s largest grower of raspberries…so they’re clearly a large player in the sector,” said Neil Crabb, chief executive of Frontier IP. He pointed out that raspberries are one of the most fragile types of soft fruit, so successful field tests would lead the way to using the robot in other fruit and vegetable crops including blueberries and strawberries.
The technology was developed by Dr Martin Stoelen of the University of Plymouth, who is now working on a tomato harvesting project in China. He said, “The collaboration agreement we’ve signed with Hall Hunter is a big step forward for Fieldwork and the team at the University of Plymouth. I’m looking forward to seeing our robots operating in the field.” The University has also received funding from Agri-tech Cornwall to develop robotics technologies for use in cauliflowers and other vegetables.
Hall Hunter Partnership chief operating officer David Green said: “HHP has always led the soft fruit industry in pushing forward productivity and quality standards on our Farms and Nurseries. This partnership with Fieldwork Robotics is an exciting new development to pioneer the harvesting of raspberries robotically at a commercial scale. We are looking forward to our first human-free hectare to be picked together.”
Photo Credit: Max Pixel
The post Trials underway for robotic raspberry picking appeared first on Hort News on 9 August 2018.
Dutch fruit producer Flevo Berry has released a new mid-season fruiting strawberry that the company says has good tolerance to Phytopthora.
Sonsation is a short day variety, with berries with orange-red, conical berries which are said to resemble Sonata, but with better firmness. According to the company, ‘Sonsation is an easy growing variety producing a compact plant with lovely upturned leafs. Flower trusses are at leaf length and still well protected against spring frost. Flowers have excellent pollen quality ensuring a very well fruit set and fruits are well displayed and very easy to pick.’
Steven Oosterloo, commercial director of Flevo Berry said: “Sonsation fits into our philosophy. In developing new varieties we always look ahead. It can be done differently and it really must be done differently, so for us, flavor and sustainability are at the top of the list. It is a part of the way we think. You can use Sonsation in a variety of growing systems. From normal conditions and cooled environments to cultivation on racks and on substrate in greenhouses. The variety is easy to grow and juicy, making it appropriate for both direct sale and retail.”
Photo Credit: Flevo Berry
The post New Dutch strawberries released appeared first on Hort News on 23 July 2018.
Berry Gardens is working with the University of Lincoln and Norway’s Saga Robotics to trial the use of the Thorvald agricultural robot in soft fruit fields and see if it can increase harvest efficiency.
The ‘trailblazing’ project, known as RAS-Berry, has attracted funding from Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The main use of the robots in the trail is to transport boxes of harvested fruit from the picking- to the collection-point, relieving workers to concentrate on the more difficult task of picking and improving overall harvest efficiency.
Ursula Lidbetter MBE, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, commented, “Greater Lincolnshire is a major food-producing area, and the agri-food industry is one of our six priority sectors. It’s fantastic to see a Lincolnshire-based project leading the way in AI. This will really put Lincolnshire on the map for developing technologies that can help and support the county’s food producers to grow and innovate.”
Photo Credit: Saga Robotics
The post Berry Gardens begins two year robotics trial appeared first on Hort News on 23 July 2018.
Scottish soft fruit growers in Perthshire and Angus are seeing perfectly good produce left behind on bushes due to a shortage of pickers, just as demand peaks during one of the UK’s hottest summers in forty years.
As well as the unprecedented demand, the weather has lead to high yields of fruit which is ripening extremely quickly. These factors, when added to the ongoing labour crisis has created perfect storm which has seen fruit go to waste.
General Manager of Angus Soft Fruits, William Houston, told The Courierthat most producers were “just about” coping, but said that most fields weren’t getting a final pick over to clear up any last fruit.
“The other big issue is that the standard of workers from Eastern Europe isn’t as good as it used to be,” he added. “If we had the same standard as even two years ago they’d all be relishing the busyness, working their guts out picking huge volumes of fruit and everyone would be happy. But there is a huge difference between the best workers who can pick 20kgs an hour and the worst at only 8kg an hour.”
Peter Marshall Fruit at Alyth said it had left 15 tonnes of strawberries and five tonnes of raspberries to rot last week because of a combination of too few pickers and an unusually long period of sunshine which meant the fruit ripened quickly. “The fruit is ripening so fast, by the time the pickers get to the end of a drill they need to start all over again,” commented the firm’s Meg Marshall.
Photo Credit: Claudette Gallant / Public Domain Pictures
The post Scottish soft fruit growers say produce being wasted due to lack of pickers appeared first on Hort News on 18 July 2018.
As preparations for Fruit Focus on 25th July continue, the event, which is expected to connect more than 1,300 visitors to over 120 exhibitors, says it will focus on the continued evolution of the UK fruit industry as it faces climate change, Brexit, new technology and irrigation challenges.
The event will give growers the chance to see the latest innovation in water use and irrigation in the Water Efficient Technologies (WET) Centre. Opened last year, it features a fully automated Precision Irrigation Package, which has proven to reduce the use of water, fertilisers, pesticides and energy by 20% while also delivering up to a 10% increase in strawberry yields. With new abstraction licenses on the horizon, the area is sure to be popular.
Event hosts NIAB EMR will also be holding a forum looking at precision growing of soft fruit, encompassing new innovations and technologies to enhance crop productivity, resilience and quality. The ever-popular research tours will include the research vineyard, WET centre and concept pear orchard. “NIAB EMR’s showpiece demonstration feature, the WET Centre, is in its first full year of production, and we are anticipating a heavy crop of Malling™ Centenary,” comments Prof Mario Caccamo, managing director at NIAB EMR.
Other attractions include the NFU Forum and tours looking at strawberry pollination and the ‘concept pear orchard.’ Tickets are on sale now.
Photo Credit: Fruit Focus
The post Industry getting ready for Fruit Focus appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.