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British Growers

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
measurement.

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
here.

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
system.”

Policy makers and funders are encouraged to contact WRAP at FWIPP@wrap.org.uk

British Leafy Salads Association Demonstration Day 2021

By Industry News

The British Leafy Salad Association is pleased to announce the Demonstration Day is back for 2021

The 2020 event had to be held virtually due to the pandemic, but we are pleased to announce that this year’s event will take place in person.

The 2021 demonstration event is kindly being hosted by G’s on Thursday 16th September near Ely, Cambridgeshire.

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

Weeding demonstrations from

  • Already confirmed: Naoi, Wedding Tech, Campeys, K.U.L.T, Robotti, Stekette and Zasso.

Bio stimulant trials

  • Confirmed Dejex and CropTechIQ

AHDB’s Peat Free Propagation trials

Exhibition area

The event will attract support from the whole leafy salad industry to provide a great interactive opportunity for those who attended.

Entry is free of charge and refreshments will be provided. The event is registered for both BASIS and NRoSO points which will be available on the day.  Register  here

For more information on attending or exhibiting please contact admin@britishgrowers.org

LSA 2022 Fellowships Application Window Opens Soon

By Company News, Industry News

The fourth intake for the Fellowship opens for applications on the 1st September 2021 to applicants who are developing their careers within Horticulture.

The Fellowship aims to develop the future leaders of the commercial horticulture industry and is being supported by the National Farmers Union, British Growers Association, The Horticultural Trades Association, the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board.

“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 the LSA Fellows will be vital in shaping our sector for the future.” The Managing agent for the Scheme, Coral Clark commented.

 

TOP 5 REASONS FOR APPLYING:

  • Increase your understanding of the commercial horticulture industry and the role that trade bodies play in the development of industry strategies.
  • Our two-year scheme increases your knowledge of current research and wider industry issues.
  • Opportunity to attend meetings and study tours across the horticulture sector, covering technical, strategy and marketing.
  • Chance to experience the entire horticulture industry from Lettuce production to Hardy Shrub production.
  • You will be awarded a bursary of up to £3,000 which you can draw down on to cover your activities within the scheme.

 

Lucille Gilpin, Horticultural Technologist at DAERA and started the scheme in 2019, she encourages others to apply for the scheme.

“Applying to the LSA Fellowship was a no-brainer – between invitations to high quality events and meeting likeminded horticulture young people, I am glad I did apply.

Even throughout covid we have had a busy schedule, meeting and discussing with central industry people online. Pre covid, my favourite event was at SmartHort, I gained a lot of knowledge from this event to bring back to my workplace.

Since being on the scheme, I am a lot more confident to discuss industry issues in my workplace with also further confidence to talk to other growers about the latest technologies.

For new applicants, I would thoroughly advise to join our group, I have learnt a lot and will continue to do so along with the horticulture friends I have made.”

 

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

British Protected Ornamentals Association joins British Growers Association

By Company News

British Growers is pleased to announce that British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) has chosen British Growers to take over their administration and official office. They will be joining 13 other specialist crops associations which make up the British Growers membership.

 

The British Protected Ornamentals Association (BPOA) was founded in to promote the interests of the UK bedding plant industry.  It‘s membership is drawn from growers and the allied trade within this specialist and growing sector of horticulture.

Coral Clark, Crop Association Executive, commented ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with BPOA. The British Growers mission is to support growers, to do what they do best, by providing a shared administrative and accountancy provisions.  Our unique shared services model will allow BPOA to access the skills they need to function effectively, whilst they retain their own strong identity”.

The Association’s primary aim is to support the needs of growers particularly in R & D, marketing and wider sector representation. By helping the bedding plant and pot plant, cut flower and other ornamental plant growers to work together, the Association aims to achieve common goals enabling all growers to move forward in an ever-changing marketplace.

Please visit homegrownplants.org.uk to find out more about BPOA.

 

James Alcaraz, Chairman of the Association said ‘BPOA works to support growers through its technical committee activity, the promotion of ‘Home Grown’ and other marketing initiatives which support members’ plant sales and to give a voice to the membership on political issues

 

James went on to say that he is “delighted to be working with Coral and all the team at British Growers. Adding that the Association would like to take this opportunity to thank Simon Davenport for his long-standing service to the Association as the Executive Officer and the British protected ornamentals industry.

British Growers Upcoming Events.

By Industry News

As covid restrictions are now lifted and we are on the journey back to normality, the British Growers team are pleased to announce the upcoming opportunities to reconnect with our members:

2021

 

16th September              The British Leafy Salad Demonstration Day is kindly being hosted by G’s. There are opportunities for weeding demonstrations, bio-stimulant trials and exhibitor opportunities.  For more information please email coral.clark@britishgrowers.org

 

7th October                      The British Carrot Demonstration Day, in association with AHDB is back for 2021. Kindly hosted by Hobson Farming, the event is being held Nr Malton, Yorkshire. There are opportunities to exhibit at the event, for more information or for the booking form please visit our website: BCGA Demonstration Day | Great British Carrots

 

2022

 

19th January                    The long awaited Brassica and Leafy Salad conference is back. After a 3 year hiatus the event is back in a new venue, East of England Showground. There are still sponsorship and Exhibitor opportunities available, for more information please visit the website, Sponsors | Brassica and Leafy Salad Conference or  Exhibition | Brassica and Leafy Salad Conference.

 

9th February                    The British Leeks Agronomy day in partnership with NIAB is being held in Marston, Lincolnshire. Exhibition opportunities are available for the event, if you would like further information please contact Pauline at Pauline.sutton@britishgrowers.org.

 

As always we continue to offer advertising and editorial opportunities to the industry in our various Crop Association Newsletters. If you would like more information please contact admin@britishgrowers.org

Brassica & Leafy Salad Conference

By Industry News

The Brassica & Leafy is only 6 months away!  Following Covid restrictions easing, the long-awaited Brassica & Leafy Salad Conference is returning after 3 years.

 

To date we are pleased to announce two of our Sponsors:

 

  • The Brassica Technical session is being kindly sponsored by Syngenta.
  • The Evening Dinner is being kindly sponsored by Sakata EU.

 

Our exhibitors include Clause UK Ltd, Hazera Seeds UK Ltd, Sakata UK Ltd, Tozer Seeds and Bayer Crop Science.

 

We owe a massive thanks to the companies that support our event through sponsorship or by exhibiting. Without their generous contributions we would not be able to host our prestigious event.

Sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for the industry-leading event are still available, please contact admin@britishgrowers.org for more information or visit our website www.brassicaandleafysaladconference.co.uk

 

A new and exciting venue has been chosen for the event and we are pleased to announce that the 2022 Conference will be held at the East of England Showground & Events Centre.  This venue boasts superb conference facilities which will allow us to showcase more exhibitors and more machinery than ever before.

 

On behalf of the organising committee, we look forward to welcoming you to the Brassica & Leafy Conference on Wednesday 19th January 2022.

British Growers News Update

By Industry News

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 and AHDB 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