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© habrda, #98143634, 2018, source: stock.adobe.com

Adding value to surplus soft fruits on the farm

Resources:
Materials, Water, Waste, Carbon
Sector:
Food processing, Other
Cost:
Low cost
Annual saving:
230€
Payback time:
1 Year(s)
Read more
Resource savings: Waste:
Opportunity to convert 50 % waste losses of strawberries into high-value products
Associated cost savings: Raw material:
230€
Payback time:
Year three net profit projections have the potential to exceed € 224 100 (£ 200 000)
The opportunity requires a limited initial investment in capital expenditure and is scalable
Total cost savings:
Avoiding the loss of investment and sales in growing produce that ends up surplus to requirements
Premises and operation areas:
Production processes, Supply operations
Size of company:
Small (less than 50)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Beginner, Intermediate

Juicy profits from waste fruit

  • Farm converts surplus strawberries into high-value fruit syrups, transforms a loss-making resource into a  profit-making product (over € 224 100 per year)
  • 50 % losses can be typical for strawberries and raspberries due to the weather, losses from 'pick your own', and market forces, which can render picking uneconomic

Brooksgrove Farm – a 60-acre property in Pembrokeshire – was keen to utilise excess strawberries and raspberries to create a new revenue stream by converting these berries into high value, artisan food products such as fruit syrups, fruit teas or fruit jerky.

Losses of around 50 % can be typical for strawberries and raspberries due to the weather, 'pick your own' mishandling. One of the key issues impacting on losses is market forces. If there is a glut of produce on the market, then prices can drop to the point at which picking is rendered uneconomic. In such instances, berries are left on the runners in the fields to be eaten by insects, birds, and animals, or rot back down into the soil. This avoids the unnecessary cost of picking and waste disposal but represents a significant sales loss for the investment in growing the berries.

A wide spectrum of potential value-adding options was researched by WRAP Cymru and reviewed in close consultation with Brooksgrove Farm. This information was summarised, and the options were scored according to three broad criteria: the readiness of the technology required to deliver added value; the commercial potential of the value-added product; and the ability to implement the opportunity practically on site. 

The options appraisal identified ten potential opportunities, which fell into three broad categories of product, summarised as follows:

  1. Commodity products: sold to manufacturers as an ingredient with no, or low, use of Brooksgrove Farm brand (e.g. fruit powders).
  2. Branded pure fruit products: sold to consumers, with product differentiation achieved through the Brooksgrove Farm brand (e.g. fruit leathers).
  3. Valued-added products: made by Brooksgrove Farm using its fruit as an ingredient (e.g. fruit syrup) and branding.

Key benefits

  • Converting surplus strawberries into high-value fruit syrups could transform this loss-making resource into a product delivering a net profit of over € 224 100 (£ 200 000) per year. Syrups are used as an ingredient in fruit drinks, sodas, and cocktails as well as a syrup/flavouring for coffee, sauces, desserts, and ice-creams.
  • Research identified simple production technologies for utilisation, with a limited initial investment in capital expenditure, that is scalable, allowing Brooksgrove Farm to test the success and popularity of the product in the first year. If successful, a greater proportion of produce can be dedicated to the production of syrups in the following years.
  • Competitiveness and improvement of market position. The research identified third-party organisations specialising in supplying brewers, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Whilst these distributors come at a cost, they will be a necessary link into the supply chain for Brooksgrove Farm if it is to turn around product sales quickly and consistently in its first year of producing fruit syrups.
Testimonials:

“The support from WRAP Cymru has provided me with the necessary information to transform what is essentially a waste into a high-value product. I now have the necessary level of detail to make informed decisions about how best to invest in value-adding activities. I am very excited to now take forward the fruit syrup opportunity into commercialisation.” -- Gary Rees, Brooksgrove Farm

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