Produce giant Univeg UK has partnered with Kent top-fruit grower Bardsely Farms in a major new joint venture.
Univeg UK parent company Greenyard Foods will take a minority stake in the venture via a capital increase, which will be used for investments in machinery and storage capacity. In return, the JV will boost Greenyard Foods’ local sourcing capacity.
The partnership will be headed up by Nigel Bardsley as chairman and Ben Bardsley as managing director.
“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 joint managing director.
The news comes as the first stage of a £6 million, five-year investment programme in Bardsley Farms nears completion, due to be operational by the 2016 UK top-fruit season. Bardsley said the investment, which includes 1,500 tonnes of DCA storage, alongside the partnership with a leading global fresh produce company means the new JV “can deliver the most cost-effective supply chain in the UK industry”.
“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,” he said.
“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."
Nigel Bardsley said: “With the changing nature of the UK top-fruit 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.”
Marleen Vaesen, CEO of Greenyard Foods, said: “We are delighted to announce a cooperation with Bardsley Farms from which both parties will benefit. This JV will improve the position of the company and strengthen future growth of Greenyard Foods to become a unique global player in fruit and vegetables.”
Forrester added: "This development perfectly illustrates how it is possible to create a project, perfectly fitting current and future market trends through businesses cooperating in a way not seen in the market to date. Transparent, fully fit for purpose and meeting the requirements of the growers and the customers alike. We are delighted to be working with the Bardsley family on this exciting new initiative."
Bardsley Farms has number of long-term relationships, including supplying Tesco for over 25 years, while the link with Univeg and Greenyard Foods has been a result of strategic collaborations over the past two years, a company statement said.