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British Growers

British Growers News Update

By Uncategorized

Quick round up

The past few weeks have been dominated by the ongoing impact of the pandemic which is affecting the fresh produce sector in numerous different ways.

Labour availability is even tighter than last year due to a combination of the new immigration rules, a delay in setting up the two new Seasonal Worker permit operators and intense competition for staff from other higher margin industries. We are in conversation with Defra on this issue and in particular the need to confirm an extension to the current Seasonal Worker permit scheme into 2022.

Cost increases in staffing, haulage, packaging, fertiliser and almost everything else is challenging the already slim margins which most growers operate on. The Brassica Growers recently put out a press statement calling for additional support from retailers to assist with these unprecedented and unplanned costs increases. There has been a significant take up of the release including the Sunday Times.

For the past 8 months we have been asking Defra for an extension to the PO funding for POs whose programmes expire in the next couple of years. In time for Fruit Focus, Defra issued a statement stating that funding will continue for the POs with programmes ending in 2021 and 2022 to avoid (in their words) an ‘airgap’ in funding.

National Food strategy

We have been in conversation with the team working on the National Food Strategy regarding future support for the sector. We shared with them several ideas we have been working on which could form the basis of a new look support scheme for the sector. So, it was interesting to see some of our thinking coming through in the final report and recommendations. This is a brief summary of the elements which are possibly of most interest and immediate relevance:

  • 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 market.
  • One priority for Defra should be fruit and vegetable growing, with its innovation funding becoming a key component of an ambitious growth strategy for fresh produce, developed with the industry.
  • 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.
  • Defra should adapt the best elements of the EU scheme, to create a package of investment that aligns more closely with Government, consumer and grower requirements.

The next step is for the Govt to respond to the recommendations, and we expect their response to be published in around six months. The challenge for us is to follow up on the strategy recommendations and move them from recommendation status to tangible measures to support the industry over the next decade.

R&D in the fresh produce sector

We know from our discussions with Defra that the future of R&D for the sector is under active consideration. The problem is … we not very clear what ideas are under active discussion and while the Minister in her presentation to the recent Festival of Fresh conference restated Defra’s intention to honour the outcome of the vote, she wasn’t forthcoming about any options for the future.

In the meantime, the Grower Better Levy Group (which comprises a voluntary group of 36 independent business operating in the horticulture and potato sectors) has been actively working on a future R&D strategy and structure and recently published the following list of asks which have been presented to Victoria Prentis.

  • R&D provision will be competitively tendered for.
  • Key AHDB staff must not be lost from the industry and halted projects deemed vital by the sectors must be completed.
  • The continuation of a small Statutory Levy is necessary to fund critical work.
  • A larger voluntary investment levy will be necessary for agreed programmes of work and growers should have the ability to vote for this by sector on a regular basis.
  • Within crop sectors, voluntary funds will be raised for the whole sector to fund projects that benefit all, or they will be raised on an individual crop basis for crop specific projects. The option will be there to fund longer term projects.
  • To fund programmes of work, crop specific investment funds will be created, accessing investment funds. Tax relief and match funding by Defra should be made available.
  • The overhead costs should not exceed 15% of levies paid.

For further information about the Grower Better Levy Group, go to their page.

The Pingdemic and critical roles

We have had conversations with Defra about including critical harvest roles within the list of roles which fall into the category of reasonable excuses to leave the self-isolation rules.

In mid-July the Govt published a list of roles in sectors covered by Defra’s remit which would qualify as ‘reasonable excuses to leave the isolation rules’, although anyone taking up this option would need to abide by a longish list of other equally stringent requirements instead. Unfortunately, the list does not include any harvest activities or indeed any on farm type activities. I am guessing with the increase in infection rates, the Govt is reluctant to go too far in relaxing the rules in the hope infection rates will continue to fall and their 16 August target of scrapping self-isolation for the double-jabbed who are pinged by the NHS contact tracing app is – to use the words of the Prime Minster – “nailed on”.

 

Download PDF here

Outdoor Cucurbits – Pumpkins and Winter Squash Variety Trials

By Industry News

The Outdoor Cucurbit Growers Group in conjunction with NIAB invite you to their Pumpkins and Winter Squash Variety Trials Open Day on Thursday 30 September from 10.30 am to 1.00 pm.  The event will be held at NIAB Park Farm in Histon, Cambridge.

 

There will be a formal tour of the pumpkin and winter squash demo plots.  This will be followed with variety and agronomy updates, and networking opportunities with growers, agronomists and seed companies.

 

The event is available to all which attracts many growers and producers thereby giving you an excellent opportunity to reach a targeted audience of those involved with the Outdoor Cucurbit industry.

 

At this moment in time the event is going ahead as planned, however if Government restrictions come into force at the time due to the pandemic we will contact and update all who have registered and are interested in the event.

 

Registration is via Eventbrite, please use the following link:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/outdoor-cucurbits-pumpkins-and-winter-squash-variety-trials-tickets-163979333601

Brassica & Leafy Salad Conference 2022

By Industry News

We are pleased to announce that the Brassica and Leafy Salad Conference will take place on Wednesday 19 January 2022 and will be a face-to-face event and not held online.

After COVID-19 put a stop to the arrangements in 2021, we have re-shaped our plans to bring you the 2022 Brassica and Leafy Salad Conference. The event will take place at the East of England Arena & Events Centre in Peterborough on Wednesday 19 January 2022 and will comprise of conference day and a gala dinner.

The conference will bring together the latest industry updates, emerging technologies and research as well as providing a platform for invaluable networking.

We will shortly be issuing our sponsorship opportunities, we would like to thank our affiliated industries in advance, without your support our industry event would not be able to reach the heights it has previously achieved.  If you would like to learn more about the sponsorship packages, please email admin@britishgrowers.org.

Networking is a huge role of the conference, the venue we have chosen boasts a large exhibition area. We have many exhibitor packages on offer to provide the opportunity to speak to the Brassica and Leafy Salad sectors. If you would like to learn more about the exhibition spaces, please email admin@britishgrowers.org.

Further information on conference line up, ticket purchasing, and event details will be issued in due course. For more information, please contact the office on 01507 353792 or admin@britishgrowers.org

Download Exhibition registration form here

General Terms & Conditions 2022 here

 

We might as well pack up and go home!

By Company News, Industry News

‘We might as well pack up and go home unless returns improve’ was the verdict at a recent meeting of Brassica Growers.

This season has seen shortages of workers, transport and packaging materials resulting in rapidly escalating costs for growers. But returns for fresh produce have remained static. ‘We thought last season was challenging with the Covid restrictions but 2021 has brought a whole new set of challenges’ reflected one grower.

New immigrations rules and quarantine regulations have affected the willingness of Settled and Pre settled status workers to return to the UK and increase the reliance on the new Seasonal Worker Permit scheme. Growers are experiencing intense competition for workers from higher margin industries who are tempting some staff away from the UK’s fresh produce sector.

The well documented shortage of haulage drivers has driven up haulage prices and led to a scarcity of drivers especially at weekends. Consumers expect to find shelves stocked with fresh produce 24/7 and this is getting increasingly more difficult due to current transport shortages.

Packaging is another commodity which seems to be in short supply resulting in higher and higher prices. Even the costs of fertiliser and basic machinery are outstripping the rate of inflation with prices up by as much as 40%.

Jack Ward CEO of British Growers said we are seeing similar comments across the fresh produce sector with other crops such as onions, carrots and leeks experiencing the same problems.  We’re reaching the time in the year where the sector is flat out and retailers depend on the UK’s growers for supplies of super fresh vegetables and fruit. We desperately need to see an improvement in returns to growers to cover these escalating input costs. Labour costs have risen by as much as 15% already as growers try to attract staff and compete with other industries. Haulage contracts are proving more difficult to arrange with prices up by 10% and the possibility of further rises as the season progresses.

Vegetables and fruit represent incredibly good value for money, but growers need to cover their costs and reinvest in their businesses. ‘We can’t operate in an environment where costs go up and up and product prices don’t – this is a road to ruin. Everyone is focused on improving efficiency and delivering more for less, but this can only go so far’ said one grower.

With the interest in healthy eating and the increased consumption of vegetables and fruit, we should be looking at an exciting new phase of fresh produce production here in the UK. But unless there is some acceptance that returns to growers must reflect increased input costs, the appetite to soldier on and reinvest for the future is being seriously eroded. Growers keep being asked to mitigate inflation, but they are already working on paper-thin margins and there is nothing left to be squeezed. Unless there is a serious shift in the valuation of food, we are at risk of crops being left in the ground and supermarket shelves left empty.

Contact

Jack Ward: postbox@britishgrowers.org

 

British Leafy Salads Demonstration day 2021

By Industry News

We are pleased to announce that the British Leafy Salad Association are hosting a demonstration day 2021.

 

G’s are kindly hosting the 2021 BLSA Demo Day which will take place on the 16th September. The event will bring together growers, processors and affiliated companies from the leafy salad sector.

 

Building on the success of the previous Demonstration Days, this year’s event will host:

 

  • Weeding demonstrations
  • Bio stimulant trials
  • AHDB’s Peat Free Propagation trials
  • G’s Herbicide trials.

 

We are looking for participants to take part in the following:

 

  • Weeding demonstration
  • Bio stimulants

 

Or alternatively to exhibit at the event.

 

If you would be interested in any of the above opportunities please contact admin@britishgrowers.org

6 New Fellows Join the LSA Fellowship Scheme

By Industry News

The LSA Fellowship can announce 6 new Fellows join the scheme from the 1st July 2021.

The 6 fellows joining the scheme are:

Ant Surrage, Fargro

Isobel Tickner, Tozer Seeds

Robert Wickham, Bardsley England

Lauren Hladun, Manor Fresh Ltd

Dave Malcolm, Boningale Ltd

Jed Knaggs, The Summer Berry Company

Their full profiles can be found on the LSA website.

The Fellowship aims to develop the future leaders of the commercial horticulture industry; assisting developing professionals in the industry to become more engaged with its strategic leadership.

Throughout the 2-year scheme the new Fellows will take part in meetings, conferences and study tours which will broaden their exposure to the horticulture industry. Seeing first-hand the role played by trade bodies and their associated committees in the development of industry strategies and communications with government.  As well as increasing their knowledge of current research and increase their ability to evaluate the possible impact this will have on the industry.

Several of the LSA Fellowship Scheme steering group interviewed the applicants in February and selected the 6 Fellows for the 2021 cohort.  NFU horticulture adviser Rupert Weaver said: “It was great to be to be involved with the interview process for this important programme. The calibre of applications was brilliant and their cumulative passion and drive for horticulture shone through during our online interviews. Choosing only six candidates to offer the Fellowship was a challenge.”

The Managing agent for the Scheme, Coral Russell said: “The Fellowship provides an excellent opportunity for up-and-coming executives in the horticulture industry to widen their perspective, create a network and equip themselves for a future role in leadership of the industry. These are exciting and challenging times for horticulture, and I think the Fellows will be vital in shaping our sector for the future.”

As covid restrictions continue to ease, the 18 Fellows currently on the scheme will be able to return to the scheme’s usual activities: attending conferences, grower association meetings and other industry events.

The Fellowship is supported by the National Farmers Union, British Growers Association, The Horticultural Trades Association, the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board.

For more information on the scheme please visit the website www.lsactfellowship.org or contact Coral Russell at British Growers on  Coral.russell@britishgrowers.org or 01507 602427.

 

Grants support largest annual increase in surplus food redistribution

By Industry News

10 June 2021

  • Surplus food redistributed in 2020 topped 92,000 tonnes with food worth £280 million – the equivalent of 220 million meals – saved from waste.
  • Grants* totalling almost £12m have helped drive the largest annual increase in food redistribution since records began.
  • Work still needed to capture surplus food – WRAP’s new redistribution Best Practice puts the focus on retailer ‘own label’ food in the supply chain.

WRAPthe UK’s leading sustainability charity, has reported a huge rise in surplus food redistribution during lockdown with the equivalent of more than 220 million meals worth of food prevented from going to waste by food businesses through partnerships with charitable and commercial redistributors, helped by funding from UK governments.

WRAP’s report ‘Surplus food redistribution in the UK 2015 – 2020’ shows the following:

  • More than 92,000 tonnes of surplus food, worth £280 million – the equivalent of 220 million meals – redistributed in 2020.
  • Total food redistributed between 2015 and 2020 amounts to 320,000 tonnes, worth almost a billion pounds (£970 million) and equivalent to more than three quarters of a billion meals (760,000,000).
  • Since UK data were first reported (2015), redistribution has tripled. Two-thirds of the total increase in 2020 is from retail and manufacturing, while 23% came from Hospitality and Food Service and farms.
  • Chilled foods including fresh meat, fish, eggs, dairy and chilled pre-prepared items made up the largest proportion of surplus food in 2020 (29%), followed by ambient and drinks at 26% and fresh produce at 26%.

The report shows that charitable redistribution has increased 5.5-fold since records began and made up 70% of the total tonnage in 2020, with commercial redistribution showing a 1.6-fold increase since 2015. WRAP also found that while 80% of surplus food originates from retail and food manufacture, an increasing percentage came from the Hospitality and Food Service sector and farms in 2020 – approximately 12% of the total.

Unsurprisingly, surplus food arising due to Covid-19 related disruption to the supply chain contributed significantly to the increases in 2020, linked to around 38% of the total. However, the majority of the increase was unrelated to Covid-19 but driven by the expanding capacity and capabilities of redistribution organisations and continuing growth in the amounts of surplus food businesses are making available, all supported by the work of the Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group.

Grant-funding by Defra facilitated increases in availability, capacity and capabilities, potentially enabling over 50% of the increase in tonnage, and helping to lay the foundations for further increases in the future.

Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP“Our report shows strong growth, but more needs to be done to meet Courtauld 2025 and UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 targets. We know there is the potential to more than double the amount of food redistributed so while I welcome these figures, I would ask all of those involved redouble their efforts and make full use of WRAP’s resources and support. While redistribution is an important tool, it is not the answer to food waste. Priority must be given to reducing surplus and waste in the first place. This is critical for business efficiency and essential if we are to achieve our environmental objectives.”

Grant funding

By December 2020, WRAP had awarded almost £7m to redistribution organisations in England under two government grant schemes: £3.8m through the COVID-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant to not-for-profit organisations in England, and £3m under the Resource Action Fund Food Waste Prevention Grants to small- and large- scale projects in England.

The COVID-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant was created from the £18 million Resource Action Fund (managed by WRAP on behalf of Defra to support key policy areas in addition to food). The COVID-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant was a separate fast-tracked programme launched in early April 2020 in response to the immediate challenges and barriers faced by food redistributors due to COVID-19. In total, 316 emergency grants (including 85 top up grants) were awarded to more than 231 charities from the small community fridge to the largest redistributor across England from Northumberland to Cornwall. The grants brought essential financial support during lockdown that helped many equip themselves to deal with the sudden rise in volume of surplus food available.

This funding follows WRAP’s 2017 pilot Food Waste Reduction Fund of £500,000, and Defra’s 2019 ‘Overcoming Barriers to Redistribution’ Grant scheme which awarded £4.2m. The Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group has been in place to provide a forum for learning and success sharing for grant recipients.

Ben Elliot, Defra’s Food Waste Champion, “These new statistics show significant progress in redistributing more surplus food to those who need it. This is an amazing trend that I urge everyone to help continue in the future.

 “Defra supported this effort with over £11m of grant aid to redistributors including £3.8m in Emergency Surplus Food Grants, to support redistributors during the Coronavirus response.

“I encourage all businesses and organisations to work with redistributors and to get more surplus food identified and redistributed.”

Defra Food Waste Prevention Minister Rebecca Pow, “The UK is committed to preventing food waste and I am pleased to see that the amount of surplus food redistributed continues to increase, with food worth £280m redistributed in 2020 alone.

“Our funding supported this great effort and helped redistribution groups manage more food surplus and get it to those need it. But we cannot rest on our laurels. I encourage all businesses to help and to ensure surplus food is redistributed.”

Own label focus

WRAP evidence shows the potential to more than double redistribution from the supply chain. In particular, the Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group highlighted significant opportunity for suppliers to redistribute more retail own-label food items. Currently, only a limited number of redistribution organisations have authorisation from retailers to redistribute own-label surplus from the supply chain, and there are restrictions on the types of food that are redistributed.

With many suppliers producing own-label food for multiple retailers, WRAP’s Working Group developed new best practice in the form of ‘Guidance on redistributing own-label products within the supply chain’ to enable more surplus to be redistributed, to more organisations across the UK.

This Best Practice guide identifies how a more consistent approach can be taken to the redistribution of surplus retail own-label food, which will result in more food being made available to more redistribution organisations – whist maintaining food safety and brand integrity. WRAP also identified a wide variation in the extent to which own-label products are prioritised for redistribution and urges retailers and suppliers to fully implement these guidelines. This Best Practice guide couldn’t be produced without collaboration through a Working Group like WRAP’s Courtauld 2025 group.

Susan Thomas, Senior Director, Sustainable Commerical Activities at ASDA, “At Asda we are committed to redistributing as much food surplus as possible and are proud to have doubled the volume of food donated directly from our stores and depots during the past year. To ensure that as little food is wasted as possible, we also want to help make redistribution simple further up the supply chain. The WRAP redistribution best practice guide identifies a consistent approach which will help make redistribution quick and easy for our suppliers.”

BRITISH GROWERS NEWS UPDATE – Free Covid Tests

By Uncategorized

The Govt has recognised that the food sector is an essential industry which needs to keep running and is one where workers cannot work from home. Therefore regular, rapid testing is a fundamental tool to prevent Covid outbreaks in the workplace.

 Free testing offer

Businesses of any size, including those with fewer than 50 employees, can sign up for the government’s workplace testing scheme. It will provide lateral flow technology (LFT/LFD) free of charge until 30 June but businesses need to register before 31 March 2021.

By registering you are not committing to testing nor do you need to place an order when you register an interest. Registration provides the opportunity to access government testing models as soon as they become available thus, allowing businesses to assess what will be most appropriate for their situation. Over 48,000 businesses have registered to date.

 How to register for free test kits

To access the free test kits until 30 June 2021, businesses need to register an interest by 31 March 2021.

N.B. This service is currently only available to businesses registered in England.

If your business is registered in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland but you have employees in England, you will need to register by email. Contact p-and-psector@dhsc.gov.uk for more advice.

 Accessing community testing facilities

In addition to registering, businesses with fewer than 50 employees may want to contact their local authority in the first instance to explore the possibility of using the growing number of community testing facilities. All local authorities in England are offering regular testing for those who need to leave home for work. Find out more here.

Addressing agri-tech challenges on an international platform: Dual Membership is your passport to UK’s excellence in agri-tech innovation

By Uncategorized

Two of the UK’s leading agri-tech centres, Agri-EPI and CHAP, have joined forces to provide international companies of all sizes with the opportunity to sign up with a dual membership – accessing benefits of both organisations at a discounted rate.

Agricultural Innovation
Agri-EPI and CHAP support the development, evaluation and delivery of technology and data-driven solutions to the challenges faced by the agricultural industry. Dual membership provides access to their state-of-the-art capabilities and support to help businesses reach their full potential.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE

Programme Outline
In this webinar we will hear from representatives from the Department of International Trade, KTN, Agri-EPI and CHAP, in addition to an update on the Ultra Fine Bubbles Project demonstrating the joint R&D capabilities of the agri-tech centres CHAP and Agri-EPI. We then open up the session for a panel discussion with the opportunity to find out how dual international membership will be your passport to UK’s excellence in agri-tech innovation.


Benefits of dual membership
* Do you want to access two of the UK’s leading agri-tech organisations to develop your innovative technologies?
* Do you want access to the UK market to launch your innovative technology?
* Do you think you can make an impact on the UK agri-tech market?
* Do you want to access UK funding, carry out research and test and trial your innovative technology?
* Be a part of the agri-ecosystem of over 200 other companies that span the network of our two organisations
* Growth and development opportunities outside of the UK network

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE

Agenda (BST):
12.00pm: Welcome and House keeping – Agri-EPI Membership & Events Manager

12.05pm: UK agri-tech Opportunity – Animal Sciences and Animal Agri-Tech Sector Specialist, Department for International Trade, Sam Hoste

12.15pm: Agri-EPI enabling agri-tech innovation UK and International – Business Development Director, Lisa Williams

12.20: Crop Health and Protection: World leading UK AgriTech capabilities to catalyse global innovative solutions – International Business Development Manager, Dr Jenna Ross

12.25pm: Ultra Fine Bubbles – A presentation on the joint capabilities between the two agri-tech centres and what is possible through working together – CHAP Innovation Sector Lead, Richard Glass

12.35 Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) International funding opportunities – KTN Knowledge Transfer Manager (Plants and Crops), Pedro Carvalho

12.45pm Panel questions
Do you want to set-up a one-to-one meeting, and aren’t able to attend the webinar? Then email either matthew.briggs@chap-solutions.co.uk or annabelle.gardner@agri-epicentre.com

Get your business in front of UK growers

By Uncategorized

2020, and into 2021, Covid 19 is affecting the way we live and work.

As well as all the life events that could not take place this year, the horticultural industry has been unable to host any training or networking events. New technologies, innovations and products have been unable to be showcased to growers in the usual way.

In light of this situation, we have expanded our regular communications to our members and are now offering reasonable advertising opportunities or editorial spaces in our membership updates. These include:

  • Asparagus Growers Association
  • Brassica Growers Association
  • British Carrot Growers Association
  • British Herb Trade Association
  • British Leafy Salad Association
  • British Onions
  • Pea and Bean Growers Association
  • Plant Propagators
  • Turfgrass Growers Association.

Our advertising rates are used to help support the Grower Associations so that they can continue to represent and support the growers in their sector.

If you would like more information on placing an advert with our Crop Associations, please contact coral.russell@britishgrowers.org