East of Scotland Growers Ltd

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by East of Scotland Growers Ltd's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from East of Scotland Growers Ltd is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.esgveg.co.uk

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | HEALTH MADE EASY GROUP
We already operate within strict safety
and labelling controls.
We feel that tax incentives for research
and development should be extended
to help British companies compete
globally. There is a need to recognise
competition and emerging markets –
the Far East is already showing rapid
development and impact and Africa is
an emerging force. The government
needs to assist UK businesses to face
such challenges and this should include
tax breaks to support investment and to
help promote the entrepreneurialspirit.
We also notice that the skills gap has
opened further in the recent years.
While we wish to be able to take on
more apprentices and train them up,
we also note that the standard of
school leavers and university graduates
is often disappointing, so education
needs attention in terms of literacy and
numeracy skills.
Indeed, the government just needs
to put the frameworks into place and
allow business to operate with ease and
efficiency in order to help deliver success
and avoid putting obstacles in the way.
Future
Around 70 per cent of our products
come from abroad, mainly Europe,
and our supply chain is a key element
to our business. Brexit, therefore,
is a factor in our plans, and the
government needs to resolve this
quickly. World trading is part of our
DNA and we are confident that we can
deal with a post-Brexit environment.
Flow of goods through ports for
imports needs to be maintained, so we
urge the government to provide for
this. This is equally important for our
export business and especially for the
£15 million per year we sell to Ireland.
Successful businesses offer benefits
to social structure and this link needs
to be supported by suitable policies.
The expansion of our sector is set to
continue and as a leading player our
plans include organic growth and
further acquisition expansion. We
have a robust business model and
enthusiasm to develop further with
ever closer links with suppliers, trade
customers and consumers.
World trading
is part of our
DNA, and we
are confident
that we can
deal with a
post-Brexit
environment
39EAST OF SCOTLAND GROWERS LTD |
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD & RURAL AFFAIRS
Managing Director
AndrewFaichney
Broccoli on the River Tay
East of Scotland Growers is a farmer-owned co-operative
that specialises in vegetable crops. Its founding aim and
continued focus is to provide the maximum return to
the grower. Since starting in a trainee graduate role at ESG,
Managing Director Andrew Faichney has worked as a harvesting
manager and a general manager before reaching his current
role in 2015. Andrew tells
The Parliamentary Review
how the
organisation is overcoming challenges in terms of labour and
Brexit uncertainty while continuing to produce crops to the
highest standard.
East of Scotland Growers was established in 1987 as farmers looked for an
alternative crop following the demise of the Scottish sugar beet industry. Today
the group has 16 farming members collectively growing 6,000 acres of vegetables,
with a crop portfolio of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, onions and asparagus.
ESG’s primary function is that of collectively marketing the produce of our members, as
well as co-ordinating all crop planning, programming, agronomy and quality control.
From the central offices, logistics, administration, financial control and technical
assurances are controlled. ESG are committed to an extensive R&D programme on
behalf of the growers that has led to numerous breakthroughs and developments.
The east coast of Scotland has an excellent climate for growing brassicas, with long
day length and a temperate climate. ESG further benefits from growing across a
200-mile radius, which ultimately reduces potential crop flushes on a land bank
varying from sea level to 800 feet.
FACTS ABOUT
EAST OF SCOTLAND
GROWERSLTD
»Managing Director:
AndrewFaichney
»Founded in 1987
»Located in Cupar, Fife
»Services: Growing co-operative
»No. of employees: 8 full-time
East of Scotland Growers Ltd
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | EAST OF SCOTLAND GROWERS LTD
The fresh produce industry
and current challenges
Access to labour has dominated the
headlines in fresh produce in recent
years and the problems are only
becoming greater. The available labour
pool is shrinking, reducing in quality
and decreasing in productivity, and
at around 40 per cent of our total
production costs, labour is the single
biggest influence on production and
sustainability. The government has
piloted the relaunch of the SAWS
scheme on a reduced scale, which has
had varying degrees of success, but
in general I would say the industry is
far from confident that this scheme
is an assured solution and even less
convinced that the government will
deliver a timely solution.
ESG’s extensive R&D efforts have
brought much progress, from field
operations, variety advancements,
packing operations and cold store
optimisation, and in recent years
the greatest focus has been on
harvesting developments. Any aspect
of mechanisation is implemented
wherever possible, due to labour
constraints, and with point of harvest
being the most significant labour
cost, an automatic harvester remains
high on the agenda for many fresh
produceproducers.
ESG is a recognised producer
organisation and is therefore part of
the EU Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Aid
scheme. The operational programme
is balanced between production,
marketing, product quality, R&D,
training and environmental actions.
All grant aid support must be 50/50
match funded, and the programme
has been massively successfully in
driving innovation in the industry;
however, with Brexit looming there
is little assurance regarding the
programme’slongevity.
The mention of Brexit poses obvious
questions regarding imports and
exports, but with so little known
regarding trade deals and tariffs it is
difficult to predict how trade will look.
With the crops that ESG produces,
imported product currently is the more
significant factor as we tend to only
export during adverse circumstances
while finding ourselves being priced
against imported produce.
As in any business, we operate in the
hope of being left with a financial
margin – it is ultimately part of a
sustainable model. ESG is committed
to creating a sustainable supply chain
model that is fit for both producers
and consumers, as a grower-
owned business that must be fully
transparent from field to point of sale.
Sustainability encompasses everything,
from the natural resources and land
we tend, the inputs we source, the
workforce we employ, packaging and
logistics, right the way through to
customer satisfaction.
Innovation goes hand in hand with
sustainability, which is driven by R&D.
This takes us full circle: back to a
financial margin to fund R&D to keep
the industry reinvesting and ultimately
progressing. As is the case for most
involved in agriculture, margins can
feel incredibly fragile and often out of
our control when faced with weather
extremes or labour shortages.
Our Growers Garden
brand
Today the
group has 16
farming
members
collectively
growing
6,000 acres of
vegetables,
with a crop
portfolio of
broccoli,
cauliflower,
cabbage, kale,
onions and
asparagus
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | EAST OF SCOTLAND GROWERS LTD
The fresh produce industry
and current challenges
Access to labour has dominated the
headlines in fresh produce in recent
years and the problems are only
becoming greater. The available labour
pool is shrinking, reducing in quality
and decreasing in productivity, and
at around 40 per cent of our total
production costs, labour is the single
biggest influence on production and
sustainability. The government has
piloted the relaunch of the SAWS
scheme on a reduced scale, which has
had varying degrees of success, but
in general I would say the industry is
far from confident that this scheme
is an assured solution and even less
convinced that the government will
deliver a timely solution.
ESG’s extensive R&D efforts have
brought much progress, from field
operations, variety advancements,
packing operations and cold store
optimisation, and in recent years
the greatest focus has been on
harvesting developments. Any aspect
of mechanisation is implemented
wherever possible, due to labour
constraints, and with point of harvest
being the most significant labour
cost, an automatic harvester remains
high on the agenda for many fresh
produceproducers.
ESG is a recognised producer
organisation and is therefore part of
the EU Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Aid
scheme. The operational programme
is balanced between production,
marketing, product quality, R&D,
training and environmental actions.
All grant aid support must be 50/50
match funded, and the programme
has been massively successfully in
driving innovation in the industry;
however, with Brexit looming there
is little assurance regarding the
programme’slongevity.
The mention of Brexit poses obvious
questions regarding imports and
exports, but with so little known
regarding trade deals and tariffs it is
difficult to predict how trade will look.
With the crops that ESG produces,
imported product currently is the more
significant factor as we tend to only
export during adverse circumstances
while finding ourselves being priced
against imported produce.
As in any business, we operate in the
hope of being left with a financial
margin – it is ultimately part of a
sustainable model. ESG is committed
to creating a sustainable supply chain
model that is fit for both producers
and consumers, as a grower-
owned business that must be fully
transparent from field to point of sale.
Sustainability encompasses everything,
from the natural resources and land
we tend, the inputs we source, the
workforce we employ, packaging and
logistics, right the way through to
customer satisfaction.
Innovation goes hand in hand with
sustainability, which is driven by R&D.
This takes us full circle: back to a
financial margin to fund R&D to keep
the industry reinvesting and ultimately
progressing. As is the case for most
involved in agriculture, margins can
feel incredibly fragile and often out of
our control when faced with weather
extremes or labour shortages.
Our Growers Garden
brand
Today the
group has 16
farming
members
collectively
growing
6,000 acres of
vegetables,
with a crop
portfolio of
broccoli,
cauliflower,
cabbage, kale,
onions and
asparagus
41EAST OF SCOTLAND GROWERS LTD |
ENVIRONMENT, FOOD & RURAL AFFAIRS
ESG current projects
Mechanical harvesting of broccoli
is progressing at a steady rate
and I believe the industry will
see mechanised harvesting on a
commercial scale in the next three
to five years. This is likely to develop
with the use of robotics and if these
machines can prove themselves in the
field, there is an obvious progression
to see this technology develop further
into packing operations. In comparison
to manufacturing industries, we
have been relatively slow adopters of
robotics, but with the intricacies and
detail involved in fresh produce we are
starting to see a slow introduction of
the potential.
ESG manages our own variety
development programme in
conjunction with the world’s leading
seed breeders and will grow and
evaluate over 300 trial plots yearly.
This ensures members have the
best-suited varieties for Scotland’s
climates as well as an insight into new
cropdevelopments.
Leading on from combating the
weather extremes, ESG has trialled
various growing systems – from
something as basic as abandoning
the plough for a strip tillage seed
bed, through to indoor vertical
farming. In an industry such as fresh
produce, technology offers a wealth
of potential, but it is not as easy
to determine what comes within
sustainable measures.
Food waste is another major issue
facing this industry, and one which
requires a complete re-education
from producer through to consumer.
In recent years ESG has focused on
fundamentally reducing wastage
created, as well as on trying to find
ways of ensuring any waste created
can find an alternative route into the
food chain. Two recent developments
are our own Growers Garden crisp
company and a dried vegetable
powder mill.
Our crisp process takes what we
classify as wonky veg, essentially the
misshapen vegetables, and blends the
entire vegetable through a process
of extrusion and air drying to create
a tastier and healthier alternative to
the potato crisp. Our powder mill
again uses the whole crop, utilising
out-grades or crop bypass, and
after a slow drying process these
are milled into a powder that offers
a wide array of uses in the food
manufacturingindustry.
In our 32 years of existence, ESG
has adapted to the industry, but the
one thing that remains unchanged is
the primary purpose of ensuring our
focus and service to our members,
meaning that we are unquestionably
their chosen route to market. The
industry will always have challenges
in the form of prices and weather,
but as a collective group ESG remains
in a prime position to tackle the
challengesahead.
ESG manages
our own variety
development
programme in
conjunction
with the world’s
leading seed
breeders and
will grow and
evaluate over
300 trial
plotsyearly
ESG cauliflower harvest

www.esgveg.co.uk

This article was sponsored by East of Scotland Growers Ltd. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development