Business Award Winners' Insight for 2020 - Westlands Farm

The winners of the 2019 Horticulture Week Business Awards reveal their priorities for 2020 and detail opportunities and challenges.

Image: Westlands Farm
Image: Westlands Farm

Award: New Business of the Year

Comments: Graham Collett (pictured), managing partner

What are your key goals/priorities as a business for 2020?

Our soft-fruit business is only two years old. It was started in 2018 as a bolt-on enterprise to our existing farming business. In 2020, as it enters its third year, our goals are to further increase the cropping area with the addition of 1ha of raspberry production under new polytunnel structures and also to add significant additional rainwater harvesting to our sites this spring to reduce water costs.

After a difficult season for UK growers in 2019, with weather conditions affecting crop timing and quality, our priorities for 2020 will be focused on better crop forecasting to aid the sales team and keeping up our high-quality offering to consumers to enable us to stay well-regarded by all our customers.

What do you regard as the biggest opportunity for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2020 and why?

The berry market is continuing to deliver growth each year as more consumers choose our products, and our early location in the south means that we are producing fantastic quality fruit in a period of high demand. As a member of Berry Gardens Growers, we have access to great customers, a pro-active sales team, lots of support and a highly professional supply chain, which means there is plenty of opportunity for us to expand our business.

What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2020 and why?

Our biggest challenge in 2020 will be the uncertainty created by Brexit and the possible reduction to the already unstable labour situation. Even as a smaller producer with fewer than 40 staff, we had periods of labour shortage this year. With increased cropping area and Brexit still looming large on the horizon, it has the potential to be a bigger problem in 2020, leading to more husbandry tasks being missed and larger volumes of wasted fruit.

What was the best thing about winning a Horticulture Week Business Award for you as a business?

Winning the New Business of the Year category at the Horticulture Week Business Awards was amazing. I think the best part was simply gaining industry recognition of the huge effort that went in to establishing our business. When you get caught up in the whirlwind — everything from installing crop structures, irrigation systems, planting the first crops, dealing with all the audits and customer acceptance, etc, etc — you don’t really stop and look at what has been achieved.

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