Norfolk potato supplier RBR Crops says it will stop growing potatoes in order to concentrate on more profitable merchant, seed, storage and consultancy activities, and that sadly ten jobs will be lost with the changes.
The company, which was founded in 1965, says the decision has been driven by continued cost pressures, the price of rented land, and low margins. Last year RBR grew 170 acres of seed potatoes, 80 acres of salad potatoes, and around 550 acres of ware crop of which about 80 per cent was on contract for supermarket packing.
Managing director Mark Brighton said, “I don’t want to point a finger at any particular sector of the industry. There are many challenges and a long list of reasons added together, but the main one is the financial burden of continuing to grow high input-value crops for very little return.
“It is very difficult with the rents we have to pay for the land and costs going up all the time. But all the processors and supermarkets are interested in is getting prices down. It is not sustainable.”
He stressed that the company remains solvent and that the changes are designed to ensure the long-term profitability of the company. “In 2017 we lost £750,000 through no fault of our own, just through market forces.
“I am excited for the future, and very optimistic that we can take things forward and concentrate the business on the sectors where we feel we can make money.”
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