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Final touches are being put to this month’s British Potato event, which takes place on 22-23 November at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate. The... Event organisers gear up for British Potato extravaganza

Final touches are being put to this month’s British Potato event, which takes place on 22-23 November at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.

The two-day industry extravaganza brings together thousands of visitors with scores of businesses from across the potato sector – making it an important networking opportunity for everyone in growing, handling, processing and retailing the crop.

Exhibitors will include Pace Mechanical Handling, which designs and installs robotic and automated packing lines. The company has already confirmed that 2023 will be its best-ever year, with interest from the potato industry playing a significant part in its success.

Record turnover

“Orders from potato growers and packers represent about a third of our sales in 2023, so it’s a very important sector for us, and we’re looking forward to exhibiting at the British Potato event,” says Pace managing director Nick Cesare.

“We’ve had an excellent year so far, and in the first eight months of 2023, we have beaten our previous best year, which was 2018, when we saw turnover reach seven figures. I think we’ve benefited from several factors.

“Potato packers and growers are looking for ways to cope with labour shortages, and they’re looking to pack more quickly and effectively. Automation and robotic packing and palletising are therefore increasingly popular with them.”

One potato grower who has benefited from installing a bespoke Pace packing line is Lincolnshire-based OGE Chapman & Son, which supplies potatoes to fish and chips shops.

It uses the system to grade and pack potatoes into 25kg sacks, which are then placed on the pallet.

“We installed the Pace palletising system five years ago, and it was one of the best things we’ve done,” says Jamie Chapman.

“We needed to reduce our labour costs, so, with Nick’s help, we installed a sack placer and stitch line. ”

Reliable machine

By installing the sack placer, the company no longer needed a man there to do the job, says Mr Chapman.

“As that person was checking the quality of the stitching, we installed a stitch line too. Stitching can be temperamental, but the machine never lets us down.”

As well as reducing labour, the Pace system has increased Chapman & Son’s capacity and throughput.

“On a good day, we can have up to 100 tonnes being packed. Before we automated the process, this would have been two days’ work.”

New products

Meanwhile, potato handling experts Haith Group will launch several new products at this year’s show. They will include the company’s new potato dryer and the latest version of its Queen’s Award-winning Rota-Tip.

Visitors will be the first to find out about the Haith ProDry, which uses an innovative fan and belt system to speed up potato drying time.

As well as being quicker than conventional sponge dryers, the new new system eliminates any potential bacteria build-up.

Haith’s 2024 version of its market-leading Rota-Tip box tippler has been enhanced by introducing an in-feed and out-feed box stacking and de-stacking functionality, which speeds up the box emptying process and dramatically reduces forklift movements.

Haith sales manager Rob Highfield said: “Our new potato dryer and the 2024 version of the Rota-tip have been developed in response to customer feedback and so should attract a great deal of interest from people looking for the latest innovations in potato handling.”

Advance tickets for the British Potato event are free and give visitors fast-track access on the day. To register for your ticket, visit www.bp2023.co.uk.

Packing specialist celebrates double milestone

One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of packaging machinery will celebrate two significant milestones at this year’s British Potato event.

GIC will mark 30 years of producing intermittent vertical form fill and seal packaging machines machines. It will also celebrate 20 years of manufacturing continuous motion machines when it attends the event at Harrogate.

“This year’s British Potato Show coincides with two very special milestones for us,” says GIC managing director Andy Beal. “The design of both machines has changed considerably over the years, but our focus on manufacturing high-quality machines that offer efficiency, longevity and reliability has not wavered.”

The company’s latest machine will be taking centre stage on Stand 230 in Hall 2 at the show. It is a  high-speed continuous motion vertical form fill and seal packaging machine capable of cycling at 100 packs per minute.