Skip to main content
Monthly Archives

September 2021

British Growers Newsletter – 22.09.21

By Company News, Industry News

Foreword Jack Ward, CEO British Growers

We should be entering a golden era for our sector. Rising awareness of the importance of vegetable and fruit in the diet, increased consumption off the back of the pandemic, strong support for increasing the production of vegetables and fruit from the National Food Strategy and yet it feels nothing like a golden era – in fact the complete opposite.

This is undoubtedly the most difficult period for growers since I joined British Growers seven years ago. Labour availability, escalating costs, difficulties in getting hold of essential inputs, the list of problems seem to grow by the week and it’s not evident the Government has a plan to get us out of this situation.

Grower meeting and the future for Research and Development

Earlier this week we held a meeting for Crop Associations to discuss the future for R&D. Phil Pearson, Chair of the Grower Better Levy Group explained the Group’s thinking on possible options to ensure a pipeline of R&D in the future

A more detailed summary of their proposition can be found here.

Ian Smith who leads the AHDB team within Defra explained the current Defra thinking. Defra is planning a consultation starting in early October and running for 6 weeks. The main focus will be on changes to the statutory instrument to implement the outcome of the ballot – an end to a compulsory levy. The consultation is also likely to include something on how best to continue the work on EAMUs although we understand AHDB is in a position to continue the EAMU work until the end of 2022.

We will keep you posted with details of the consultation as soon as it is published.

National Food Strategy

Sometimes you need a bit of positive news. So, it was good to see the National Food Strategy pick up on several of the ideas sent to them by British Growers.

  • Fresh produce is the sector of primary food production where growth most squarely aligns with the national interest.
  • There are clear opportunities for UK growers to secure a greater share of the UK
  • Defra should adapt the best elements of the EU Fruit and Veg Scheme to create a package of investment that aligns more closely with Government, consumer and grower
  • Fruit and vegetable production should be supported by a wider programme of investment to boost horticultural productivity sustainably, creating a less bureaucratic, more inclusive and better funded successor to the previous EU Fruit and Vegetable Regime.

We have recently written to Defra Ministers asking for a meeting to explain our thinking about how Defra could use its new policy freedom to provide more encouragement and support for the sector.


The labour shortages have been well documented and widely reported. The issues experienced by growers this season have surpassed all others, poaching of staff including both permanent and seasonal; workers turned back at the Border because Border Forces staff don’t like their paperwork; difficulties getting the two new SWPs agencies up and running and delays in recruiting and issuing visas, Covid restrictions; increasing reluctance for EU workers to return to the UK even with settle status visas. The list goes on and on.

Earlier this month several industry organisations led by the NFU and Food and Drink Federation published a comprehensive report ‘Establishing the labour availability issues of the UK Food and Drink Sector’ which spells out very clearly the labour issues affecting all parts of the UK Food industry including the problems surrounding seasonal labour.

We have subsequently written to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in support of the report and in particular adding to the calls for

  • a commitment to a permanent seasonal worker scheme for UK horticulture,
  • the expansion of the scheme to include more visas and operators,
  • and for the scheme to be made available to the non-edible horticulture sector. A full copy of the report can be found here-

Sustainable Farming Incentive

Defra is consulting on a range of proposals for the arable sector under its Sustainable Farming Incentive Scheme.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme is the first of 3 schemes designed to encourage environmental land management. And will launch in 2022 for farmers in England who currently receive payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Details of the consultation can be found here.

The closing date for responses has recently been extended to Friday 22nd October 2021.

We are in discussion with Defra about an SFI scheme which is better suited to the veg and fruit sectors and we understand there are plans to introduce a scheme tailored to the needs of the fresh produce sector.

Strategic Review of Abstraction Charges

At the end of August, the Environment Agency launched its consultation on a strategic review of abstraction charges. The consultation runs until the 10th November 2021. The NFU is encouraging all members who abstract water to respond to the consultation. It will be particularly important for farmers and growers to comment on any identified changes to charges and the impact of those costs on their businesses. The NFU consultation is being run by its team of Environment Advisers. Anyone wanting more details can contact their regional adviser. This link will take you to the appropriate regional office.


Redistribution of surplus production

British Growers has been in contact with various organisations with an interest in the redistribution of surplus production. One of these groups is the Felix Trust and they have developed an App to make the connection between growers and redistribution organisations as seamless as possible.

The App will allow growers to flag up any surplus production and connect with organisations that will collect and redistribute it.

The Felix Project is looking for growers based in the East & Southeast of England to take part in a short trial to find out if the app works for you. Any growers not wanting to take part in the trial or in another part of the country can also support the project by taking a short 5-minute survey.

Please contact Les Golden on or call him on 07833 235147 to discuss further and/or take part. Or you can complete the survey here.


Wannabe Reality TV Celebs

Big Little Fish TV, the makers of the hit Discovery series ‘Born Mucky” are looking for family farms to feature in a variety of new programmes they are developing in the farming space. These programmes will be a celebration of British agriculture, and of the incredible families at the heart of it.

Big Little Fish TV are keen to hear from fruit and vegetables growers. If you are interested and want to find out more, please email at And for more info about the makers visit their website.

FPC Future – 4th November 2021

FPC is collaborating with the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology to launch two new events for the fresh produce, flower and plant industry on 4th November 2021 at the Lincolnshire Showground.

FPC Future comprises an exhibition and eight conference sessions and is co-located with FPC Careers, a specialist careers fair the industry and related sectors which include foodservice, import, retail, logistics, distribution and wholesale.

The conference programme is extensive, with conference sessions covering pre and post farm robotics and automation, data-driven technologies, plastics and packaging, supply chain waste, carbon supply chains, vertical farming and sustainability.

For more information visit here.

British Carrot Growers Association Demonstration Day 2021

By Industry News, Company News

The British Carrot Growers Association Demonstration Day 2021.

The 2021 BCGA Demonstration Day is shaping up to make a big return for 2021. Returning as an in-person event, the 2021 event will be a great chance for the industry to have a long awaited “catch up”.

The Demo Day on the 7th October will be held near the village of West Knapton, Malton and is kindly being hosted by Hobson Farming and sponsored by AHDB.

The event will showcase existing and emerging carrot varieties from Seminis, BASF, Rijk Zwaan, Hazera, HM Clause, Elsoms/ Bejo and Agriseeds.

Martin Strickson from Elsoms commented: “Elsoms are delighted to demonstrate our extensive range of varieties bred by Bejo Zaden. Our market leading range include the most comprehensive, reliable, versatile and diverse carrot varieties available to producers in the UK.”

Not only will demonstrations of the latest varieties be available for the attendees to view, but the BCGA Volunteer Potato trials are being held at the site. Delegates can see the ongoing trials and quiz those who have been running the trials.

Several agronomy plots from Bayer and Microbial are also sited at the field and will be available for delegates to see.

The exhibition area attracts a great turnout from the supportive wider industry to provide a great interactive opportunity for those who attend.  Already registered to attend are: Bayer CropScience Ltd, Clause UK Ltd, Hazera Seeds UK Ltd, Elsoms Seeds, Grimme UK Ltd, OnePay, Yara UK Ltd, Edwards Farm Machinery, Tong Engineering Ltd, Tickhill Engineering Co Ltd t/a Haith and Pan Anglia.

Entry is free of charge for delegates, refreshments will be available throughout the day and you can claim both BASIS and NRoSO points.

Registration for the event for delegates and exhibitors can be found on our website- BCGA Demonstration Day | Great British Carrots

For more information, please contact

Tackling on-farm food waste key to increasing profits by a fifth

By Industry News
  • WRAP identifies a 20% potential increase in profits for UK farms through
    minimising food surplus and waste.
  • Collaboration with Ribena and their growers unearths much higher levels of
    blackcurrant waste than previously thought, and opportunities to tackle this.
  • An estimated 3.6 million tonnes of food goes to surplus and waste in UK
    agriculture, worth £1.2 billion.

A new report from leading sustainability charity, WRAP, reveals farmers could achieve a
potential 20% increase in profits by reducing surplus and wasted food.
Field studies conducted by WRAP across a range of products demonstrated that
improvements in data and measurement are key to waste reduction. Levels of food
surplus and waste on-farm were often higher than expected, with significant variability
observed between farms, which suggests potential to improve performance within
existing practices.

Financial analysis of five classic British foods showed the following potential profit gains
if all farmers achieved best in class performance:

  • Carrots – 33%
  • Eggs – 24%
  • Potatoes – 23%
  • Strawberries – 19%
  • Apples – 15%

Key findings from WRAP’s work:

  • Engaging the whole supply chain is fundamental. Factors elsewhere in the supply
    chain, such as lack of viable secondary markets, customer specifications, and
    supply and demand imbalances were identified as major drivers of surplus and
    waste on farm, and many of these cannot be addressed by growers alone.
  • To encourage engagement with the issue, it is important to communicate the
    benefits to monitoring on-farm, in particular the financial ones.
  • Measurement and data are central to reducing on farm food surplus and waste,
    and engagement with farmers and sector specialists through field trials such as
    these helps raise the profile of data collection.
  • There is a need for data collection on a much larger scale and WRAP is working to
    upskill the sector so they can recreate the success of the pilots.

Tackling waste in primary production is a crucial element of transforming our entire
supply chain so that we can build a food system which supports healthy citizens, a
healthy economy and a healthy planet, as outlined in July’s National Food Strategy.
Reducing food waste, from farm to fork, is imperative to achieving Net Zero – and the
goals of COP26 this November.

The work with farmers also showed that collaboration is essential to help them
benchmark and learn from each other – and ground-breaking research with Suntory
Beverage & Food GB&I and their blackcurrant suppliers to address on-farm food surplus
and waste is an excellent example of this.

Approximately 2,000 hectares of blackcurrants are grown in the UK and 90% of the crop
goes directly to Ribena. In a study conducted in July 2020, WRAP worked with Ribena’s
blackcurrant growers to unearth practical ways of measuring waste pre-farm gate and
find opportunities to reduce it.

Blackcurrants are machine-harvested but in-field losses from this process had not
previously been quantified for modern varieties of harvesters – the research aimed to
address this. A week prior to harvest, growers used sheeting to collect and weigh berries
which fell prematurely. After the harvester had travelled through, berries remaining on
the blackcurrant bushes or on the ground were also weighed.
The results showed that most waste arises specifically at the point of harvest, with
berries left on the bush or on the ground. Overall, data collection indicated much higher
levels of waste than previously estimated, underlining the power of food waste

The blackcurrant growers are now assessing the efficacy of the harvesting machinery,
exploring ways to ensure optimal machine design, operation and speed.
A new video illustrates WRAP’s collaboration with Ribena, filmed on location and
featuring head blackcurrant grower, Rosie Begg from Gorgate Farm, Norfolk. View it

This case study illustrates that gathering evidence helps businesses take targeted action
to combat food surplus and waste on farms. WRAP’s resources help farmers, growers
and farm advisors to deliver on-farm food surplus and waste measurement and
reduction and ultimately increased profits.

Will McManus – Sector Specialist at WRAP: “The financial analysis highlights that
measuring food surplus and waste on-farms provides important business benefits. After two
years of collaboration with farmers and growers, we have a robust approach for supporting
measurement. Now we really need businesses and policy makers to back this approach and
help upskill the sector as a whole.”

Harriet Prosser, Blackcurrant Agronomist for Ribena at Suntory Beverage & Food
GB&I: “As a business Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I is always working to tackle waste and
work more sustainably as part of our Growing for Good company vision. It is my role to
support our contracted blackcurrant growers for Ribena and promote best practice. This
project was a great opportunity to explore losses at harvest, and support growers to identify
areas for improvement.”

Rosie Begg, Blackcurrant Grower at Gorgate Farm, Norfolk: “WRAP has been so
helpful linking us up with other blackcurrant growers and helping to design the experiments
for this investigation. We were really surprised by the results, we felt harvest losses were
minimal, so this project has really focused the mind and helped us to target those key losses
and direct ongoing research.”
Ben Elliot, Government Food Waste and Surplus Champion: “This illuminating
research shows that food waste not only harms our environment but is also bad for business.
It is abundantly clear that we must look across the entire food chain to reduce surplus and
wasted food – from the farmyard to the kitchen – to build a prosperous and sustainable food

Policy makers and funders are encouraged to contact WRAP at