Food and Drink
12 international markets opened their doors to British produce in 2018, with exports of soft fruits reaching £22.1 million
New figures show total UK soft fruit exports soared to a record-breaking £22.1 million last year, up from £13 million in 2017.
Exports from the UK to international markets rose by 69%, with blackberries, strawberries and raspberries being some of our most popular soft fruits. Together they are worth more than £18 million in overseas sales, with the Netherlands, Spain and the Republic of Ireland being our biggest markets.
Over the past five years, the demand for UK soft fruit has risen consistently, with the total value of exports rising by £16.8 million – an increase of more than 300% since 2013.
Editor Victoria Galligan visits a family business with a long track-record of farm diversification – the Owd Barn in Bispham, West Lancashire.
The Owd Barn has nearly 30 years of diversification behind it – but that doesn’t mean the Ashcroft family are resting on their laurels. Far from it in fact. As I sit down with the owners’ daughter, Helen Charlesworth, she explains that renovations are planned to further make use of the space in the barn which has become a popular visitor destination over the past three decades.
Raspberry lovers can enjoy an early start to the British raspberry season this year with the berries already on the supermarket shelves in abundance.
Growers estimate that this season is starting three weeks earlier than usual and they put that down to the good spring weather. Mid-June sees the raspberry season already in full swing with high quality British raspberries widely available. Strong raspberry plants, prompted by the spring sunshine, are ensuring good flavour and bigger, bolder raspberries.
Not only will the fruit be of high quality, growers expect the British season to last right through to early November. This is as a result of careful planting to ensure a continuous supply of the berry over the upcoming summer months. The leading raspberry varieties grown in the UK have the ability to flower and fruit over a long period of up to five months, whilst traditional types typically produced fruit for just a four to six week period.
By Geoffrey Boot MHK, Isle of Man Government Minister for Environment, Food & Agriculture
75% of land on the Isle of Man is usedfor agriculture. Proudly the only entire nation to enjoy UNESCO world biosphere status, much of the Island’s rich and varied landscape owes its appearance to the activities of generations of farmers.
Land varies from the undulating south with rich soils supporting mixed farming, to the central uplands with thin soils supporting extensive beef and sheep production and the flat northern plains used for arable and vegetable production.
Food production is a strategically important industry to the Isle of Man and one that is closely supported by the Isle of Man Government Food Matters strategy.
When it comes to diversifying it’s best to move into a fresh, new market rather than one at saturation point. It also helps to tap into an existing skillset, even if these skills may have lain dormant for some time.
This is exactly what Gilli and Glen Allingham of Nairn did when theydiversified from potato and cereal farming into growing garlic. They then diversified further by creating a range of garlicky food products that can be ordered online.
Craggie Farm is the only garlic farm in Scotland, and the home of the Really Garlicky Company. Glen took over the family farm in 1999, which has been growing potatoes for fifty years. The Allingham family started selling King Edward seed potatoes directly to ware growers in the South East of England.
A recent survey conducted by The Vegan Society found that one in five UK adults have cut down on the amount of meat they buy. In addition, around 13 per cent now choose meat or dairy free options from the menu when eating out. Here Darren Halford, sales director at obsolete industrial parts supplier EU Automation, explores how consumer buying habits are affecting the food and beverage supply chain.
Research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. This, combined with an increasing concern for animal welfare and the environmental impact of animal produce, has led to a surge in vegan diets on a global scale. Now, approximately 0.5 per cent of the global population, or one million people, are vegan. However, veganism isn’t the only increasing trend in the food and beverage sector. Consumers are opting for a variety of specialised diets, such as vegetarian, gluten free and clean eating.
Essex-based potato farmer, Fairfields Farm, has announced a new deal to supply the Co-op with its range of fresh potatoes.
The Co-op will sell its 1.5kg white potatoes, 750g Baby Potatoes and 4-pack Baking Potatoes in more than 90 stores across Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire from next month.
The new deal is set to have a significant impact on the team at Fairfields Farm, with more potatoes already planted to increase the yield of this year's harvest and new jobs created to cope with the extra workload.
This is a fantastic new contract for us. It has increased the volume of our production and created new jobs on the farm,” explains Robert Strathern, founder of Fairfields Farm. “We also sell our fresh potatoes through The East Of England Co-op, and this new deal will enable us to significantly expand our reach and awareness of Fairfields Farm - allowing more consumers to get their hands on locally-grown potatoes.”
It all starts with the land. If you have agricultural land – in the right locations, with suitable topography, soil and climate - now could be the perfect time to make a move into English wine.
The momentum around English wine production has been building steadily for the last few years and the work put in by some of the early pioneers is starting to pay off with medals from numerous international wine competitions and acclaim from respected journalists and wine experts shining the spotlight on our home-grown product.
A growing industry
According to Wine GB the UK wine industry is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the UK, with over 800 vineyards already established, an expected 2 million vines to be planted this year and output set to increase to 10 million bottles by 2020 (66% increase on 2017). It is predicted that UK sales will reach 40 million bottles and £1 billion in sales by 2040, could you be part of that boom?
With SAVOURSMITHS we have created a potato crisp brand with luxurious gourmet crisps made with potatoes harvested from their own British farm in Cambridgeshire using only the finest ingredients. Our creative crisps are fuelled by the local fields and they are involved in the process from start to finish. Everything we do is made from scratch and we influence what is sown, when it is harvested and how our crisps get prepared. We hope that our attention to detail along the journey both informs and is reflected in our decadent potato crisps.
We started SAVOURSMITHS in September 2016, soon after we moved back to the family farm in an effort to diversify and take our family business in a modern direction. Food, family, friends and fun is important to us as individuals.
In this article, Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at catering equipment supplier Alliance Online, shares some fantastic tips to help you attract more customers to your farm café.
All businesses want to attract more customers through their doors. But, with more businesses than ever competing for a slice of the market, how can you set yourself apart and get your wonderful products and services in front of more customers? The truth is that there are loads of things you can do, and a lot of it will depend on your location and what you have to offer. That said, I'm going to share with you four great ideas to attract more customers to your farm café.
A new crisp brand, Two Farmers, is offering consumers a plastic and waste-free solution in 2019 with a delicious artisan range of crisps in a 100% compostable packet. The packets are a first of their kind for the UK crisp market and will biodegrade in just 26 weeks in a home-composting unit.
The crisp range includes four flavours:
Hereford Bullshot- Gently seasoned with spices and the delicious flavour of Hereford Beef- GF
Salt & Two Farmers Cider Vinegar- Lightly salted and flavoured with Two Farmers own cider vinegar, made from apples grown in their Herefordshire orchards - Vegan-friendly & GF
Lightly Salted- Lightly seasoned with Droitwich Salt, which is harvested by hand from natural springs and crystallised using renewable energy - vegan-friendly & GF
Two Herefordshire fruit farmers have launched a new drinks brand, Penrhos Spirits, with the release of two hand-crafted gins that celebrate their farming and fruit-growing heritage. The two families have been farming at Penrhos near Kington, Herefordshire, for generations and so it was only natural to name the new brand in its honour.
Lifelong friends, Charles Turner and Richard Williams, had been looking to work on a new diversification project together and with a love of gin themselves the two set out to create a truly authentic gin using traditional copper pot distillation.
Both families are passionate about the idyllic Herefordshire countryside and wanted to create a gin that reflected the land and environment that surrounds them. Each of their recipes focuses on sourcing from their own farms, producing an essence of this beautiful countryside.
Groundbreaking ethical meat business ‘The Ethical Butcher’ has just exceeded its target of £350,000, paving the way for carbon-negative meat.
The brand secured the backing of 242 investors in a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube.
The Ethical Butcher – dubbed an online ‘craft beef’ service – aims to change how we think about buying meat in the UK.
McDonald’s UK has invested three quarters of a million pounds to support British dairy farms, most recently awarding thirty three of Arla’s UK farmer owners more than a quarter of a million pounds (£273,243) in the latest round of its capital grant scheme. The scheme, which was launched in March 2018, is part of Farm Forward, McDonald’s long-term programme of support for the UK farming industry, and aims to support the future of the British dairy industry and fund applications that are focused on raising animal welfare standards, providing economic benefit to the farmers business or making environmental improvements.
Alice Willett, Agriculture Consultant, Sustainable Sourcing, McDonald’s UK & Ireland comments, “We’re constantly impressed with how ambitious Arla farmers are in driving forward standards. Whilst Arla supplies organic milk to McDonald’s, we recognise that as a supplier working with a farmer owned co-operative we have an opportunity to help the wider group farmers continually invest in their businesses and this scheme is a reflection of that.”
The successful applicants received grants to support investment across the following areas: