Bardsley Farms are a fifth generation premium topfruit producer based in Kent with a long history of supplying the major supermarkets in the UK. Farming 420 acres of orchards, the business has a strong and well-founded reputation within the industry; such that it has resulted in a number of solid long term relationships, including supplying Tesco for over 25 years.

The link with UNIVEG UK, part of Greenyard Foods based in Belgium, has been a result of strategic collaborations over the past two years. “It is clear that Bardsley Farms and UNIVEG’s aspirations for the market are aligned to the point where putting together a joint venture was the next logical step”, said Alan Forrester, UNIVEG UK’s joint managing director.

Forrester went on to say: “we were extremely impressed with the professionalism and quality of the operation as well as the support the business has given us over the past two years”.

Nigel Bardsley, who is chairman of the Mid Kent Growers Association, as well as becoming chairman of the new joint venture, stated: “With the changing nature of the UK topfruit market it makes total sense to pull together the two businesses, where not only is the thinking aligned, but the strengths of the two businesses will deliver a model which is unseen in the market place to date”.

Ben Bardsley, managing director of the joint venture went on to say that: “The ethics of the two businesses combined with the plans we have will allow total transparency in everything we do. Not just for our business but also for our other key grower partners. Partners is exactly how we see them, sharing in the planning and thinking to ensure we deliver the best possible result for all parties from growers to customers. It is crucially important that in the challenging market place that we operate in, we do everything we can to make the supply chain as dynamic and efficient as possible, ensuring sustainable returns to the grower not just in the short term but also in the longer term”.

“UNIVEG has already demonstrated their willingness to share with all of the growers the opportunity to be involved in the innovation and varietal development that sits both in their UK trial orchards but also in the breeder relationship we and the wider UNIVEG grower base have access to across the globe”.

“The first stage of the £6 million, 5-year investment program in Bardsley Farms is nearing completion, and will be up and running for the upcoming 2016 UK top fruit season. We have invested in world leading grading and packing technology that not only delivers vitally important efficiencies, but allows us to target customer products that best fits the fruit, and by managing quality.” Norman van der Gaag, sales director from Aweta is delighted to be the main machinery contractor. He states: “This advanced grading solution is equipped with an award winning Powervision 3D HS camera system for the external quality detection of apples together with Inscan for the internal inspection. Innovative new software manages the whole grading process. This machine is equipped with the latest features that Aweta can deliver and makes Bardsley Farms one of the most technologically advanced packhouses in Europe.”

Barnsley continues: “In phase one we have also built 1500tns of Dynamic Controlled Atmosphere (DCA) storage allowing us to extend the UK season with high quality English product.” When this is considered alongside the opportunity to share knowledge and best practice with one of the leading Global fresh produce companies, we believe we can deliver the most cost effective supply and value chain that exists in the UK industry”

“This partnership with UNIVEG, part of Greenyard Foods, creates an industry leading vertically integrated supply chain that will deliver both for the grower and the retailer. We see this as the first step in a larger plan to re-engineer the way we operate, which is going to be so important following the recent developments for the UK to withdraw from the EU. We don’t know what form the UK agricultural policy will take but with such a positive and strong partner, we are well placed to thrive in this ever changing industry.”

Pictured: Bardsley Farms and UNIVEG senior management team, left to right: Stefaan Vandal (managing director of Growth Markets ~ Greenyard Foods), Ben Bardsley (JV managing director), Alan Forrester and Mike Harpham (Joint managing directors, UNIVEG UK) and Nigel Bardsley (JV chairman).