Goatham will double top fruit production

Published: 14 May 2014

Top fruit grower AC Goatham will double annual production of apples and pears by planting almost 300,000 new fruit trees at Flanders Farm, Kent. 
The move, part of the company's new 20-year 'Strategic Vision', is expected to more than double its Gross Value Added (GVA) from £12million to £28m. 
Over the next two years the firm, which has a direct sourcing deal with Sainsbury's, will plant 268,500 new trees, including 112,000 trees that will recreate orchards that were removed after WW2. This will take the total number of trees planted to just under two million. 
"Providing a secure fruit supply for customers across the UK is essential, and potentially there are new markets for British top fruit overseas," said partner Ross Goatham. "Over the next 40 years, the world needs to produce more food than it has over the last 10,000. As farmers, we have to be thinking long term and thinking ahead to how we will meet the future demand for food." 
Goatham added: "We need people to understand how we are competing in a global marketplace and support British farmers, whatever the sector of farming they are in. Climate change, food security and economic stability are all issues we will feel in Kent and planning ahead now will ensure a long term future for our business." 
A company statement suggested the investment will benefit the local economy through the potential to "preserve and grow jobs". The firm currently employs 230 full time staff and has 300 seasonal workers. 
Over the last seven years, AC Goatham has invested £30m in growing the business, including £10m on its storage and packing facility, and offices for business operations at Medway-based Flanders Farm, Kent.  
Courtesy of Fresh Produce Journal 

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