AWARD WON: Soft Fruit Grower of the Year
Location: Boxford, Suffolk
Peake Fruit managing director: Robert Rendall
Tell me about your key goals/priorities as a business for 2019.
We are looking to increase blueberry production from 80 tonnes to 120 tonnes and then working towards 250 tonnes in the next three to five years. So next year we will be gearing up with fencing and different types of tunnel and netting. We are also planting another nine hectares of cherries and expanding production of Strawberry Katrina.
What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2019 – and why?
Labour: we have massively resourced our recruitment. We recruit from Bulgaria and Romania but the 2,500 from the seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS) is not even a drop in the ocean. We have upgraded accommodation and central heating systems, so hopefully we can retain pickers for longer, and we even pay for plane tickets to try and tempt workers here.
What do you regard as the biggest opportunity for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2019 – and why?
The crops we are growing in the long term represent our biggest opportunity in 2019 and beyond. Support for British production is rising, so we must meet all those expectations by growing the right crops at the right times - and growing them.
What was the best thing about winning a Horticulture Week Business Award for you as a business?
It recognises our entire team: it's a huge amount of work and effort to grow the crops we do, and it can be disheartening when the weather, quality issues or the market is against you. So winning an award from your industry peers is massively rewarding and gives you a greater sense of ownership and pride in what your do.
***THE 2019 HORTICULTURE WEEK BUSINESS AWARDS IS OPEN FOR ENTRIES!***
For full details of categories and how to enter, please go to: www.hwbusinessawards.com