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Industry News

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 berry industry grows 600% in 25 years

By Industry News

This year, British Summer Fruits is celebrating its milestone 25th anniversary of representing and supporting the UK berry industry.

The last 25 years have seen huge growth and success for fresh berries, with the industry now worth over £1.5 billion. That’s a staggering growth of over 600% from a value of £206 million in 1996, the year British Summer Fruits was incorporated.

As the UK berry industry’s trade body, British Summer Fruits represents the great majority of fresh berries supplied to UK retailers. In addition to its year-round promotional PR and press office campaign, the body also represents and supports members with media comment on key industry issues. For example, British Summer Fruits has been heavily involved in lobbying and talking to government in support of the industry on matters such as seasonal worker availability and, in the past polytunnel planning.

 

The work of British Summer Fruits is funded on a voluntary levy basis, and today the organisation is pleased to be supported by over 90% of UK growers and berry marketing groups.

Nick Marston has been chairman of British Summer Fruits since 2017. In that time the industry has seen significant growth and addressed a number of industry challenges, such as access to and availability of seasonal workers.

Nick said: “The work British Summer Fruits does in representing the whole berry industry is invaluable. Our annual campaign to support growers spans our proactive Love Fresh Berries consumer engagement campaign, which focuses on the health benefits and versatility of fresh berries, as well as recipe ideas and seasonal information to inspire purchase in addition to media outreach and government lobbying,

“Our PR campaigns typically achieve a 40:1 ROI and have evolved in recent years to include social media and improved ways of measuring our impact, and it’s no coincidence that the industry has seen solid growth every year the campaign has run.

“With increasing calls for consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles and diets, our work to highlight fresh berries as a delicious, healthy snack and ingredient is extremely important. We also need to continue to drive consumer demand to support our UK berry growers and their growth ambitions by providing an ever-expanding market for their crops.”

The berry industry has seen significant innovation in the past 25 years, including varietal developments, new growing techniques and the use of new technology. As a result, the self-sufficiency of the British berry industry continues to grow each year, with the UK season now extending from May to November. British Summer Fruits year-round Love Fresh Berries campaign linked with improving quality and availability of fruit from overseas growers means the UK now has a growing year-round market for fresh berries.

Nick Marston continues: “We are pleased to work with such a large proportion of UK growers each year, but the opportunity to partner with more, including overseas growers and their representatives, is always present.

“The last 25 years have been extremely successful for the berry industry and we hope the next 25 will see similar success, even with industry challenges such as Brexit and seasonal workers. Having industry wide representation to promote and support the industry is essential, and we look forward to continuing our activities to support members and drive ongoing consumer demand.”

Lochy Porter, chairman of Angus Soft Fruits and a British Summer Fruits member since 2003 said: “I have been extremely fortunate to be farming in a sector of agriculture that has enjoyed fantastic growth because of the brilliant tasting soft fruit that British growers produce, and all the health benefits that eating soft fruits offer.

“Alongside this, being a member of BSF has been key in promoting the health benefits and quality of the soft fruit that we produce, as well as addressing industry challenges and issues on our behalf. I believe BSF has been instrumental in supporting the overall growth of the soft fruit industry in the UK.”

 

British Growers News Update – Lockdown boosts the sales of UK veg

By Industry News

The health benefits of eating veg has certainly struck a chord with consumers. The British Onions Producers Association and UK Brassica Growers Association have seen sales of onions and brassicas soar during lockdown. Retailers are reporting increases of 25% in year on year sales of onions, and in the early stages of lockdown sales were up as much as 70% on previous years.

Commenting on the growth in onion consumption, Tim Elcome, Chairman of the British Onions Producers Association said, ‘with many more people inevitably cooking at home the humble onion is proving ever popular’.  But Increased demand coupled with an unpredictable growing season means that stocks of UYK onions are somewhat lower than we would normally expect.  This may result in a tightening of UK stocks and an increased import window next spring and early summer.

Brassica growers have experienced a similar situation with higher than normal sales across the full range of brassicas as consumers look for new things to cook at home. ‘This has been a great opportunity for people to re-discover the benefits of seasonal home grown produce’ explained Richard Mowbray, Chairman of the UK Brassica Growers Association.

Richard went on to point out that the spell of very cold weather over the Christmas period has affected some yields and supplies have been affected.  Imports from Spain have also been affected due to heavy snow caused by Storm Filomena.  As a result of this unprecedented demand, UK brassica supplies will be tight for the remainder of the winter period with some varieties finishing earlier than normal and sales outstripping supply.

Stewart Aspinall Chairman of the Leek Growers Association has seen a similar patter emerge with leek consumption. ‘Consumers spending more time eating at home and cooking from scratch has created greater demand for British leeks, with many trying the vegetable for the first time and enjoying its taste and versatility’.

But as with onions and brassicas, this unexpected growth in demand, coupled with a harsh Spring in 2020, means that there is likely to be a shortfall by April, with supply ending earlier than normal and retailers will have to look at importing more expensive continental leeks to fill the void.

The British Carrot Growers Association Chairman, Rodger Hobson comments that the “carrot industry is delighted with the increase in demand from UK consumers, spending more time at home preparing food has led the UK to rekindle their love for the humble British carrot”. Following the 2020 growing year, which was challenging, Rodger warns “that there might be some imported carrots on the shelves to ensure continuity of supply. This will enable everyone to enjoy carrots in all their meal occasions until the new UK crops comes on stream”.

Jack Ward, British Growers said ‘It’s great to see this surge in demand. We know as a nation we don’t have enough veg in our diet and while part of the success is attributable to lockdown, there is a growing interest in healthy eating and seasonal produce. The UK had a proud tradition of producing seasonal veg throughout the year and the increased consumption has brought a welcome counter to the problems of coping with the Covid pandemic.’