Branston, one of the UK's biggest potato suppliers, has officially opened its £5 million prepared potato factory extension in partnership with Tesco. Producing around 3,500 tonnes of potatoes each week for sale in Tesco stores across the UK, the new factory expansion includes the introduction of two new batch peeling lines, making it one of the largest peeling and processing facilities in the UK.
The development which has created more than 20 new jobs at the Lincolnshire site also supports Tesco's commitment to look for new ways to reduce food waste. The facility peels visually imperfect but entirely edible potatoes, which are then supplied to Samworth Brothers, a convenience food producer which produces a range of Tesco's ready meals. Tesco's Commercial Director for Fresh Food Matt Simister said: "Working collaboratively with our suppliers to ensure we provide the highest quality fresh produce for our customers is right at the heart of what we do. Our long history of partnering with Branston, has helped to provide the confidence potato growers and the whole potato industry need to invest and innovate for the future.
"We believe that no food which could be eaten should go to waste so we're constantly looking for new ways to reduce food waste across our supply chain. This new partnership between Branston and Samworth, and new facility means that in addition to our Farm Brands and Perfectly Imperfect ranges, we will be able to use up to 95 per cent of our growers' crops, and save edible produce from being wasted."
Branston's MD James Truscott said: "Our relationship with Tesco is hugely important to the business and its commitment to reducing waste is a shared goal. This exciting new development enables us to play our part, whilst improving quality and freshness for customers. The new state of the art peelers have the capacity to cope with potatoes of all shapes and sizes – the wonky veg – which can be used to supply Samworth Brothers to make mashed potatoes for its range of Tesco ready meals. Working in partnership adds value to all three businesses. We have to continually modernise and adapt to the evolving food industry in order to have a sustainable business."
Branston's commitment to environmental issues has always been a priority for the business. It uses waste potatoes to generate 40 per cent of the Fresh Potato site's electricity through its on-site anaerobic digestion plant, with the remaining digestate used by local farms as fertiliser.
Branston, which has three sites across the UK – located in Lincolnshire, Perthshire and Somerset – has been supplying potatoes to Tesco for over 25 years.