Brands and transport hubs are hot topics at Eastgro

The benefits of local branding and the joint use of transport hubs were the hot topic at Eastgro trade show in Wisbech last week.

Growers from the Spalding-based Linc-up co-operative debated different approaches to local branding. Andy Shire, co-owner of Harrington Hall Nursery, is considering using the Select Lincolnshire brand, promoted by Lincolnshire County Council, on his plant labels.

But Sholtsgate Nursery owner Jackie Sturgess believes the publicity of the brand is directed at local food rather than plants. She plans to emulate the Waitrose label style, featuring a photo and back-story of the producer on product labels.

"I'm a small nursery that does cash and carry, and I deal direct with the customers," said Sturgess. "So I'm going to put my own face on the label instead."

Sturgess has not signed up for the HDC's Home Grown campaign. She said: "The problem with Government-funded projects is they take a long time to translate into reality." But she has approached her local ADAS representative, Andrew Hewson, about developing a stronger regional identity by sharing branding and transport.

"If we went under the same umbrella we would have more power," she said.

Both Shire and Sturgess praised the services of Trolley Net, the nationwide transport company, which also supplies Danish trolleys, offers a trolley repair service and collects waste for recycling.

Trolley Net managing director David Anderson, a former vegetable grower, runs seven operating centres around the country, including sites in Chester, Hull, Clacton, Surrey and Cornwall.

Anderson said: "The difference with my service is that because I also supply the construction sectors and Christmas tree markets, I employ drivers all year round rather than through an agency. They get to know their route."

Sturgess said: "Nurseries, through groups like Linc-up, will work together, but only so far. We need to offer a similar service to the Dutch. With the strong euro affecting business we've got the window to do it."

Hewson said: "It makes sense to join up to cut costs. David is an ideal transport handler because he has experience of growing."

He suggested growers aiming to set up transport hubs approach regional development agencies and the English Rural Development Programme for funding.

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