Growers in Lincolnshire are set to revolutionise the Brussels sprout market with what is thought to be the first successful British-made trimming machine.
The £250,000 machine is the brainchild of Holme Farm Foods chairman Roger Welberry and will mean sprouts will be fully prepared on UK soil in abundance for the first time. It has taken three years to bring the groundbreaking and patented machine to fruition with backing from fellow directors and growers, Graham and Richard Reams of JW Reams & Son.
When it is installed this week it will be capable of trimming several hundred kilos a day and put an end to growers having to send their Brussels sprouts to Holland, where UK sprouts are usually trimmed.
The move will see the creation of new company CleanCut, which will sell and market home-cut sprouts to supermarkets, discerning stores and hotel and restaurants.
Welberry said the creators are confident it will be a success in an age when food miles and freshness have never been more important to consumers. He claimed the system would have sprouts from field to retailer in a day, while in the past it has taken more than three days.
He added: “There have been attempts to make trimming machines before in this country but it never seems to have been commercially viable until now. The research to get a prototype machine cost a six-figure sum but building one for the capacity we needed cost that much again — totalling £250,000.
“We’ll be processing Brussels sprouts all year round. Disappointingly, we realise we can’t do this all year with British-grown sprouts so we will have to import stock for around a three-month gap between supplies.”
After using all of Welberry’s 20ha and JW Reams’ 22ha of supplies, they will use other locally produced sprouts.
CleanCut has a “Sammy Sprout” logo, which will aim to appeal to children to further market the straight-from-pot-to-pack sprouts.
Welberry added: “Farming and growing in this country has too often relied on foreign machinery when we can do it for ourselves.”
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