Soft Fruit Grower of the Year - Winner AJ & CI Snell

Following a decision to specialise in berry production in 1998, Anthony and Christine Snell's 450-acre south Herefordshire farm has grown to produce, pack and market nearly 2,000 tonnes of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants.

Soft Fruit Grower of the Year - Winner AJ & CI Snell
Soft Fruit Grower of the Year - Winner AJ & CI Snell

Now with a turnover in excess of £5m, the pair put the success of the business down to the experience and hard work of the growing team, the modern technologies of the intensive tabletop substrate and the use of polytunnels, irrigation and crop agronomy advances.

The availability of hand-picked quality seasonal workers from Eastern Europe has been invaluable, as well as being part of soft-fruit co-operative Berry Gardens, where Anthony is a director. A focus on supplying produce and growing the better-flavoured premium varieties has been instrumental in the development of the business.

In 2015, the business supplied Sainsbury's and Tesco with packed, homegrown fresh fruit, Marks & Spencer and Booths with frozen British fruit lines, 150 farm shops and delis with own-brand Windmill Hill Frozen Fruits, Lucozade Ribena Suntory with contract-grown blackcurrants and Yeo Valley with organic blackcurrants.

Also in the past year, the business built a 1,000-pallet freezer store with a Schafer mobile racking system to further develop the potential to market IQF and Puree grade fruit to UK and European markets.

Finally, despite a challenging year caused by a late spring and major polytunnel wind damage in March 2015, the business won first prize at the National Fruit Show for its premium strawberry variety, Jubilee; increased sales by 11.8 per cent; provided 100 per cent quality service to three major retailers; received Berry Gardens strawberry estimator first prize; achieved BRC grade AA and achieved Marks & Spencer Gold F2F.

Finalist

GuardTop for Aronia Berry Enterprise

Sponsor

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