Food and Drink
Janice Hopper heads across the North Sea to check out a farm diversity project which has brewed its own success…
Sailing up the scenic fjords of west Norway, our Fred Olsen cruise ship docked in the staggeringly picturesque harbour of Eidfjord. A quality cruise will offer quality onshore excursions, so a group of British tourists are transported to the farm of Nils Lekve for the ‘Taste of Hardangerfjord’ experience. En route the tour guide explained that Hardangerfjord is the fruit region of Norway, thanks to its mild climate and lack of snow, due to the Gulf Stream.
Three “fantastic” dairy operations have been visited by the independent assessors appointed by AgriScot to find Scotland’s dairy farm of the year 2019.
This year, all 3 farms – now finalists in the running for the award – are located in the same part of the country, the renowned dairying heartland of Dumfries & Galloway.
Baltier Farm, Whithorn, Newton Stewart, where the third generation of the Douglas family now milk their 580 cow herd of high yielding Holsteins 3 times per day, is vying for the award alongside Drum Farm, Beeswing, Dumfries – the 2012 award recipient – farmed by the Harvey family, and Ernespie, Castle Douglas where David McMiken milks a herd of 290 cows in partnership with his parents.
Fife Buffalo farmer and star of the BBC’s ‘This Farming Life’, Steve Mitchell, has reached an amazing £556,000 of his £800,000 buffalo mozzarella crowdfunding goal, with just under a fortnight to go until the target must be met.
Steve’s ambition to provide Scotland with its first ever home-produced buffalo mozzarella started a number of years ago, not long after the herd of buffalo arrived at his farm. Gordon Ramsay visited Steve and together they made a trial batch, giving Steve the determination to supply Scotland’s foodies with their own delicious buffalo mozzarella.
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.
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.
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?