On the ATMAC European Study Tour’s penultimate day, we visited Barfoots of Botley, a major grower-processor in Bognor Regis on England’s south coast.


Barfoots is another British grower who has expanded into international sourcing to supply its customers 52 weeks of the year, with a combination of their own farms around the world and a network of contract growers.


Among many topics covered, Group CEO Julian Marks shared the company’s philosophy of customer diversification, ensuring it is never beholden to one customer.


He also delivered a pithy nugget of wisdom on the developments of processed products; “prepared vegetables must be added value, not added cost”.


The tour group was also able to visit Barfoots’ anaerobic digester, which digests 50,000 tonnes a year of vegetable processing waste into leachate sprayed back onto Barfoots’ fields, offsetting half the company’s fertiliser needs and generating large amounts of power.


We also visited neighbouring processor Nature’s Way, whose team walked us through the company’s new product development process.


Consumer interest in prepared vegetable products has contracted due to the cost of living crisis, the Nature’s Way team said, with some retailers reducing their SKUs by 15%. Organic produce has also experienced a big drop in demand.