After flying into Birmingham, the study tour group drove east to Peteborough, where on Monday we visited three local vegetable businesses.

First up was Moulton Bulbs, a vertically-integrated allium grower, packer, processer and importer. Our group learned that UK onion production, typically around 450,000 tonnes, has dipped 10% this year in response to tough climatic conditions and a cost of production that’s risen dramatically in the last three years.

Procurement Manager Doug McNeal told the group the UK industry was slowly making progress on supplying onions 12 months of the year from domestic production through cold storage, potentially putting pressure on counterseasonal imports from Australia.

We then moved on to AH Worth, a large grower and processor growing spinach, kale, cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), leeks and potatoes. The AH Worth team discussed the increasingly complex certification landscape, and the dynamics of their relationships with UK retailers, which differ quite markedly from the Australian experience.

After AH Worth, the group visited Elsoms Seeds, a seed and breeding company with a history spanning back 175 years. The company supplies a broad range of seed through its partnerships with Bejo Zaden and Holland Select, and Elsoms’ breeding work specialises in quintessentially British vegetables such as parsnips and swede, which are available in Australia through Bejo.