JFC partners with Berry Gardens to see strawberries grow up
We were delighted to announce last week that we’ve partnered with Berry Gardens, the UK’s largest supplier of berries and cherries, and will be conducting collaborative trials into vertically-grown strawberries.
If we’re successful (and obviously we’re enormously optimistic that we will be), we will extend the British strawberry season to 12 months, giving shoppers fresh, British strawberries all year long (the British season is currently from March to November). And it’s been great to have such a strong response from customers, a number of whom have expressed a significant interest in stocking vertically-grown strawberries, with the first crop likely winter in 2023.
James Lloyd-Jones, says, “So, now we move into soft fruits! Through this new partnership we will marry JFC’s world-leading technology and vertical farming experience with Berry Gardens’ excellence and knowledge in growing soft fruit to further answer the intensely pressing need for more sustainable forms of farming. I have no doubt that we’ll see the same success with soft fruits like strawberries as we’ve seen with other crops.
“British agriculture has traditionally been limited by seasonality, but this collaboration will get us to a point where UK consumers can buy fresh, homegrown strawberries from major retailers throughout winter and year round. We know the demand is there, and we’re working hard to make it a reality.
“Vertical farming not only benefits the environment, but also the economy. The scale we offer is vital in order to create a cost base that allows us to deliver delicious produce to the masses. Our new facility, which will be the world’s biggest vertical farm, will open in late 2022 with more following; we aim to supply 70% of the UK’s fresh produce within the next ten years, and adding berries is a key part of that plan. With Berry Gardens, Britain’s best berry group, for this trial is a fantastic step on that journey.”
Nick Allen, Chief Executive Officer at Berry Gardens says, “We’re delighted to be working with James and everyone at Jones Food Company, and to again be leading the soft fruit category, this time by exploring the possibilities offered by vertical farming.
“Ensuring quality supply for our customers and allowing consumers to have delicious, fresh, healthy, British strawberries on shelves year round are key priorities for us. The environmental impact is obviously really attractive too.
“Like most of the industry, we are actively looking for ways we can become more sustainable across our business and when technology offers realistic solutions, it is incumbent on us to pursue them with energy.”
“What James and his team are doing already with herbs and salad leaves has proven the technology, and the advantages scale can bring, given their product is already selling into thousands of British stores every week.”