Objective One helps Cornish growers to add value

Cornish food producers will soon benefit from a boost to their incomes thanks to an 88,000 grant Objective One grant which will enable Hayle-based company Riviera Produce to build a new packaging facility in Cornwall.

Currently, the bulk of produce from the local growers that serve Riviera Produce is transported for packaging in Lincolnshire, from where it is redistributed to ASDA supermarkets across the country.

This process creates an estimated 642,000 unnecessary 'food-miles' a year that will be eradicated when the added-value process of packing and wrapping takes place in Cornwall.

Savings of unnecessary transport costs will be returned to Cornish growers as an increased payment for their crop, saving the company, and in turn its suppliers, a substantial cost each year. And the shorter time between soil and supermarket shelf means less wastage for growers and fresher produce for consumers.

The packaging plant will be able to deal with a wide range of Cornish-grown vegetables, including cauliflower, spring greens, savoy cabbage, primo cabbage, pointed cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli. And it will also mean the introduction of new crops in Cornwall previously grown more economically in Lincolnshire - that can be grown at either end of the season to take advantage of the mild climate and then be packaged nearby.

As a result of the 439,000 investment, ASDA has agreed to source all of its cauliflowers and cabbages during the winter from Cornwall, securing jobs in the rural community.

Commenting on the importance of the new facility to the company, David Simmons, managing director of Riviera Produce Ltd said:"A quality pack house is a vital step in the business's development. We are delighted by the opportunities that the new facilities will create not only for us, but also for our suppliers and the new growers that we will be able to take on as a result of our increased capacity.

'The funding from Objective One that has made the expansion possible will further benefit the local community in terms of the extra staff that we will eventually need to cope with the growth of throughput, new products and an increased level of packing."

The project has been approved for a 88,000 grant from the Objective One European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), with match funding coming from the Department of Food, Environment & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

David Rodda of the Objective One Agricultural Development Team emphasised the importance of the funding to the company and local rural community:"It is an absurd situation that Cornish produce leaves the county to have value added elsewhere, only for it to be shipped back to Cornwall and sold in local supermarkets.

'The funding from Objective One is vital not only to Riviera Produce but also to at least another 40 agricultural businesses which supply produce for processing. The new facilities will help the company to build a secure future for themselves and many other local businesses, creating much needed growth and prosperity for local growers."

New technology will be playing a vital role in the company's modern high-capacity packaging facility. Riviera Produce will be able to email digital photographs of vegetables to ASDA before they are despatched to ensure there are no quality issues.

Nigel Williams, technical manager for brassicas at ASDA commented on the importance of the new packaging facility to ASDA:"Our customers demand value for money in terms of quality, availability and price. It is therefore reassuring to see our suppliers making investments of this nature to insure that products are received by the customer as fresh as the hour it was harvested at the minimum cost."

Work on the new facility has already started, and the building has been designed to conserve chilled air and reduce energy and water consumption, with rainwater used during the crop washing process.

The majority of work will be completed by September 2002, enabling the new facility to be operational for the start of the autumn season. The remaining external work will be completed by June 2003. Once complete, the new packaging facility will create six full time, one part time and eight seasonal jobs.

For more information contact:

David Simmons
Managing Director
Riviera Produce Ltd
01209 890127
07971 465074

Laura Tregonning
Deborah Clark & Associates
01872 276276

Free photography is supplied with this release by Phil Monckton, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Press, Tel: 01736 364822.


Editors notes:

Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel:01872 241379
Fax:01872 241388