It was double success for Kent salad producer Laurence J Betts at the 2015 UK Grower Awards. Having scooped Salad Grower of the Year (sponsored by Rijk Zwaan), the West Malling based whole head and leafy salads producer went on to win the Gold Award – overall Edibles Grower of the Year (vegetables).
Formed in 1930, Laurence J Betts is the UK’s longest standing large commercial lettuce growing operation. With 250ha of double cropped production, 20million whole head lettuces are produced annually, as well as 1100 tonnes of baby leaf types.
The company remains family run with Stephen Betts at the helm, supported by farm manager Nick Ottewell and assistant farm manager Adam Lockwood.
Uniquely for an operation of its size, the company supplies niche markets rather than major retailers direct.
Its extensive trial programme is overseen by Jamie Georgiades with the latest innovation being baby kale for salad packs. Production of 1000kg a week is scheduled for the coming season.
“Product quality and service excellence remain at the core of all our operations,” says Stephen Betts. “We recently invested in a new £2.5million cold store, packhouse and distribution centre, part funded by a rural development grant. Employing the latest glycol technology, product is stored at 0.5-1°C in a humidified atmosphere. The new facility will enable us to operate more efficiently and sustainably whilst maintaining focus on quality and customer service.”