Growers benefit as Berry Gardens reports sales and rebate increase

Berry Gardens increased its sales by four per cent in 2010 despite the year's slow start to the season because of cold weather.

Paul Kelsey and Kain Price of Berry Gardens - image: Berry Gardens
Paul Kelsey and Kain Price of Berry Gardens - image: Berry Gardens

The increase, which was revealed at the soft and stone fruit grower group's annual general meeting on 27 April in Maidstone, Kent, takes the sales to a new high of £193m, surpassing the previous high of 2009.

Berry Gardens also announced a reduction in headline commission rates, in line with the group's co-operative principles.

Set alongside an increase in commission rebates, charges to members continued to reduce in 2010. Total rebates arising from the group's financial performance will be in excess of £2m.

Finance director Nick Allen said: "This demonstrates the ongoing success of the 'owned by growers' business model. The rebate of profits earned to our growers, rather than being retained in complex corporate structures, supports Berry Gardens members' in continuing to make on-farm investments."

In reporting the group's performance, chairman Paul Kelsey said: "The current difficult economic situation is well known, so it is gratifying to once again be increasing the levels of rebate to our growers. Grower profitability remains at the core of our co-operatives' heart."

He added: "Our customers need to understand that we are a different organisation to our competitors, with a diverse membership of large and small growers, spread across the UK. This gives us a unique ability to produce a range of varieties over a long season."

SEED BANK BENEFITS

Berry Gardens is making a donation on behalf of former chairman Marion Regan to the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The seed bank recognises that many endangered and economically important plant species produce edible berries, including the wild relatives of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

STORE DELIVERY JUBILEE VARIETY ARRIVES EARLY

Berry Gardens chairman Paul Kelsey marked the early start of the British strawberry season by delivering his first crop of Jubilee strawberries to his local Marks & Spencer store in Canterbury.

The strawberries - from Quaives Farm in Wickhambreaux - were two weeks ahead of anticipated arrival and will contribute to the 2,400 tonnes of the variety produced nationwide.


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