UK Vining Pea Conference a great success

by Tim Mudge

Inaugural UK Vining Pea Conference is welcomed by the industry.

Pea growers and industry professionals from around UK and Europe gathered near Peterborough on the 11th November for the first UK Vining Pea Industry Conference, sponsored by Syngenta. A full day gave a wide programme of speakers from technical, health & safety, frozen industry insights, marketing, future consumer trends and finally an insight into pea production in Norway.

The event was chaired by Jack Ward, Chief Executive of British Growers Association. “It was great to see the industry turn out in force to support the event” said Ward. “We have been able to attract a very high calibre of speaker which had led to high demand for places and the conference being oversubscribed.”

The day started with details of the 2015 crop harvest yields and grades of peas along with import and export statistics from Martin Riggall, consultant to BGA, and was followed by two technical presentations from Becky Ward of PGRO and Nathan Morris from NIAB on recent research projects. Health and Safety was highlighted in the last presentation before lunch and provided a timely reminder to growers on the possible dangers that growers face day to day whilst involved in food production.

Hatch Communications and Rachel Green kicked off the afternoon session with an overview of the work done on promotion of peas by the Yes Peas! Campaign in 2015. Pea Ambassador and Chef Rachel Green gave an enthusiastic endorsement of the work being done and the versatility of the pea in so many meals. Keynote speaker was Brian Youngs of the British Frozen Food Federation who looked at the frozen retail category as a whole and specifically how frozen vegetables had fared during the recent economic down turn. Alan Smith of A&P Marketing looked at the evolution of the modern consumer and how that may change buying habits in the future. To round of the day Torbjorn Landsrop from Findus Norway spoke to the conference about the challenges faced producing peas in Scandinavia and an insight into the market in Norway for frozen peas.

Roger Vickers of hosts, and co organisers, PGRO said “The presentations were wide in their subject matter informative and engagingly presented by some excellent speakers. Those attending gave some very encouraging responses for the future of this event”

Dawn Teverson from co organisers AHDB Horticulture said “The Vining Pea Conference was an ideal opportunity to get the industry together for such an interesting and informative event. Feedback from those attending has been very positive.”