UK potato businesses join forces in bid to boost economies of scale and build a stronger, more resilient supply chain

Potato grower and supply chain specialist AKP Group has completed the acquisition of York-based potato supplier Wolds Produce.

Based in North Lincolnshire and established in 1999 by Richard Arundel and Bruce Kerr, Arundel Kerr Produce Ltd (known as AKP Group) is one of the largest potato growers in the UK, as well as a supply chain specialist.

From variety and seed selection to grading and storage, AKP Group guides growers through the entire process, before finally matching produce to each customer’s requirements.

As growers themselves, AKP Group provides an end-to-end service supplying all sectors of the potato industry (retail, foodservice and food manufacturing) and has customers in the UK and Europe.

Wolds Produce, meanwhile, was set up as a potato trading business in 2004, offering crops from the Yorkshire Wolds region to packers.

The company has since grown into a major potato supplier into the crisping, chipping and potato seed industries, and currently trades over 50,000 tonnes of potatoes in the UK and overseas.

Wolds Produce is one of the largest independent seed producers in the UK, supplying high-quality seed to businesses across the country, and supplying potatoes into many of the UK’s well known crisp manufacturers.

The business also offers a complete potato supply chain service from seed to factory, along with storage, washing and grading facilities, crop monitoring, in-house haulage, and supply chain management.

AKP Group said its primary objective is “to collaborate closely with its network of growers and partners to deliver the best-quality potatoes to its customers across the retail, processing and foodservice sectors in the UK and overseas, whilst improving profitability, raising standards, and maintaining a highly efficient supply chain”.

By combining the expertise, resources and experience of the AKP Group and Wolds Produce, the companies want to achieve economies of scale.

AKP said the new partnership “will drive innovation and build a stronger, more resilient supply chain, ultimately contributing to the growth of the UK potato industry”.

This is becoming increasingly important, the supplier pointed out, since the number of potato growers has reduced in recent years as a result of escalating production costs and changing weather patterns, both of which increase risks for growers.

The two companies promised a “seamless integration” and uninterrupted service for their growers and other partners.

Wolds Produce will continue to operate independently under AKP Group, and all employees will retain their current roles.

“By combining our respective services and scaling up our operation across storage, washing, grading and distribution, we can help our growers and partners to minimise risk, reduce their costs and make it happen for UK farming,” said AKP Group MD Richard Arundel.

“At AKP Group, we take pride in being flexible and responding to the changing needs of the industry. This acquisition represents a strategic step towards realising our vision of becoming the go-to partner within the UK’s potato industry.

“We are excited that Wolds Produce shares this focus and we are excited about the opportunities this partnership will bring to our network of growers and customers.”

Tim Foggin, managing director at Wolds Produce, added: “AKP Group is one of the largest potato growers in the country and so naturally, it boasts a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable individuals who will only enhance our operation further.

“The culture and forward-thinking nature of AKP Group aligns with our own values, and we look forward to merging our expertise and consolidating our respective strengths.”