Grant helps herb grower to start building a major packing centre

Lincolnshire Herbs has begun building work on a major finishing and mechanical packing centre, thanks to a Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) grant of £400,000.

RDPE is delivered in the region by the East Midlands Development Agency and funded by Defra and the EU.

The total cost of the investment at the Bourne-based specialist grower, which during the past few years has doubled its production area, is £1.4m.

The new finishing centre will provide temperature-controlled conditions for the potted herbs, from harvesting right through to dispatch, with the aim of improving shelf life and product quality, in particular during the summer months.

The new facility, expected to be fully operational by September, will also enable the company to smoothly expand its production to handle continuing organic growth and new business.

Lincolnshire Herbs - part of the Swedeponic Group, which also has herb-growing facilities in Sweden, Poland and Portugal - has expanded from a greenfield site in 1998 to a 2.4ha business producing 13 million pots a year for major retailers.

As part of this latest development, the company is also installing specialised packing machinery that will significantly improve overall efficiencies.

Crucially, the mechanisation will allow for improved merchandising solutions within stores, as well as for a reduction in packaging volumes. The company said that by mechanising the more repetitive jobs within the packing process, it would be able to improve employee health and create more interesting, multi-skilled roles, as well as further improving product quality.

Lincolnshire Herbs managing director Patrick Bastow said: "The investment is crucial to further improve our sustainability, product quality and efficiencies. It enables us to develop flexibility in terms of what we can offer our customers, as well as helping to reduce our carbon footprint. It will also help to guarantee jobs with the business as we go forward".

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