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Co-op Managers Impressed by Soft Fruit Innovation and Development

03 September 2021

A visit was organised by Angus Growers (one of SAOS's co-op members) for a group of co-op managers to visit James Porter, at East Scryne, Carnoustie yesterday (2nd September). SAOS facilitates two ‘community of practice’ groups for co-op managers (one north and one south) who meet regularly to share experiences and learning by seeing new developments in business and management in practice. Like most of our meetings it's been a long time since the managers got together so it was a very welcome opportunity in several ways.

Angus Soft Fruits is one of the fastest-growing food and drink companies in Scotland.  Through their constant drive for innovation and investment in new technology, they have enabled the 22 member growers in Angus Growers to benefit from the revolution in soft fruit production and market growth opportunities.  Members grow a variety of soft fruits, including strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries, accounting for over 60% of Scottish soft fruit production. Their main customers are all the major supermarkets. To provide all year round supplies to UK consumers, they also have links and joint-ventures with growers in Spain, Morocco and Chile.

Jim Booth commented: “The innovation we saw today, allied to the drive to improve supply chain efficiency and to delight customers is awe inspiring.  It just reinforces the fact that we have some world class businesses in Scotland. A key message for me was the importance of leadership, and the benefits of growers co-operating and working together.  The transformation and performance of the Scottish soft fruit sector over the last 20 years has been nothing short of a revolution.  Part of that success is also down to government policy, and the EU ‘Fruit and Veg Aid Scheme’.  Imagine if that scheme was extended to other sectors in agriculture, how it could be the catalyst to drive change and investment in our industry?”

Michael Bayne, Manager at Borders Machinery Ring, added:”We were very privileged to see a first class professional soft fruit farm today.  James (Porter) was so open and willing to share information, it was so refreshing.  The investment in new technology, including poly tunnels, plant breeding, table-top production, controlled irrigation and crop nutrition, biological pest control, amongst others, was simply breath-taking.  They are already working with a tech company testing robotic harvesters to help future proof growers.” 

Pictured, left to right, are Robert Logan, SAOS; Mark Clark, Grampian Growers; Andy McGowan, Scottish Pig Producers; Michael Bayne, Borders Machinery Ring; Rod Sanderson, Tarff Valley; Angela Porchez, Angus Growers; Dave Cuthbert, Angus Soft Fruits; and the day's host, James Porter who is also Chairman of Ringlink Scotland.

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