Sweet deal at last for East Anglian peas
Ardo UK Ltd struck a deal with local farmers’ cooperative Anglian Pea Growers to take next year’s 14,800t crop. The move restores a 60-year tradition of pea growing in the area after Birds Eye cancelled its contract earlier this year.
The deal will see around 3,500ha of peas planted next spring. The contract is worth about £20,000 on average to each farmer taking part. It will take UK pea production in 2011 up to 130,000t.
Ardo will be funding new pea preparation equipment at a site in Lowestoft. It is also looking at investing in a new pea packing line at its head office. The proposed investment and preparation contract will secure 38 jobs.
Stephen Waugh, Ardo managing director, said: “We are delighted to secure this contract, which is very welcome news for both British farmers and consumers. The produce will be grown, prepared, packed and consumed within the UK.”
The peas will be harvested from late June and then prepared and frozen within two and a half hours of being picked to ensure maximum flavour and vitamin-value. They will then be packed at Ardo’s premises in Kent for distribution.
Richard Hirst, chairman of Anglian Pea Growers, said: “The deal with Ardo UK is very good news for our members and will bring back a valuable source of income to their farms following the loss of a major pea contract in 2010.”
NFU East Anglia welcomed news that pea growing would be returning to Norfolk and Suffolk. Regional director Pamela Forbes said: “This is excellent news for the 150 growers involved – and for the wider rural economy.
She added: “Pea growing has been a real success story in our region, with growers producing a high quality crop with low food miles and low environmental impact.
“The cancellation of the Birds Eye contract in February came as a real blow so we’re delighted that locally-grown peas will now be back on sale.”