Specialist potato grower Scutt Farming was selling 100 per cent of its 152-hectare (375-acre) potato crop to fish and chip shops when lockdown began, forcing the East Yorkshire family business to urgently find a new market, Farmers Guardian reports.
Jonathan Scutt, who farms with his father and brother, explains: “We were down 95 per cent on sales immediately, so there was a drastic reduction.” The business operates across 647ha (1,600 acres), growing three varieties of potatoes, combinable crops and sugar beet.
But the potatoes account for 50 per cent of the business, so things were critical, says Mr Scutt. Seeking an urgent solution, he contacted the front desk at Morrisons HQ and was put in contact with senior buying manager Gareth Cosford.
Mr Scutt says: “Gareth had a look at our potatoes and decided to run a load in the Wonky range. He said they were well matched – still high quality and a really nice all-round potato.” Due to lockdown everything had to be arranged remotely, says Mr Scutt.
“We had not sold to a supermarket before, but luckily we were already Red Tractor-assured.”
Not much in Mr Scutt’s operation has had to change. Potatoes are still stored at 8degC, as opposed to 2degC as is the norm when supplying the fresh potato market, and grading takes place on-farm in the same way as previously.
Rather than packing into 25kg bags, the potatoes are now put directly into one tonne crates with individual labels. Each order is dispatched to synchronise with Morrisons’ delivery slots.
Fish and chip shops are starting to re-open, but Mr Scutt is keen to develop this new relationship with Morrisons, which will help spread the risk in future years. “The Wonky range shows the public is happy to buy potatoes which are not necessarily as visually perfect as the classic pre-packed sample,” says Mr Scutt.
Source: Original report published by Farmers Guardian
Photo: Jonathan Scutt | Farmers Guardian