Food and Farming Excellence

Sponsored by Ashtons Legal

The Food and Farming Excellence award is presented to Chris Burrows, left, and Jonathan Edge of C & K Meats by Rebecca Gatens of Ashtons Legal. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Food and Farming Excellence award celebrates the contributions that food producers and the food supply chain make to the economy of East Anglia.

Primary producers, processors, manufacturers and retailers were all eligible to enter, with the winner being a business able to demonstrate innovation and a strong all-round performance over the last 12 months.

The judges examined the overall enterprise management, including buying and marketing policies, employment, investment and use of capital, future business planning, including product development, business integration and long term investment, and involvement with local communities demonstrating social responsibility.

Winner

C & K Meats

C&K Meats is a family-owned abattoir and wholesaler which promotes British meat.
It has a passion for provenance, supplying high quality, high welfare, locally-reared beef, pork and lamb to customers in the UK and worldwide.
It is committed to animal welfare, low food miles and to reducing its carbon footprint, and has many accreditations including The Queens Award for Enterprise, Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured and BRC Grade A.
The judges said: “C&K Meats is a family-run business at Eye which has thrived under the dynamic leadership of brothers Kevin and Chris Burroughs.
“It stood out for its strong growth, forward thinking approach and willingness to adapt and innovate. Despite challenging times for all food commodity markets including meat, the £18.8m turnover firm spotted the opportunities and increased its sales last year.
“It expects to do so again this year by focusing on niche, rather than bulk, markets at home and abroad. It has developed a new rare breed pork brand, C&K Black, on the Euston Estate which is aimed at discerning Japanese customers.”

 

The runners-up

Aponic

Aponic has developed a commercial-scale vertical, soilless growing system that uses 90% less water yet grows fruit, vegetables, herbs, salad crops and even cut flowers 30% faster and with 30% larger yields.
Being vertical, it turns acreage into volume and diversifying farmers can grow more food in less space with no run off into the environment. This system removes the variables from farming and is a predictable, consistent low input, high value output growing system.
The judges said: “Aponic founder Jason Hawkins started out with a novel idea for a growing system and has made great strides in making it a reality, using components made here in East Anglia.
“He has secured the backing of Kensington Wealth Management, setting up Aponic International with it on a 50/50 basis. Over the last two years it has been trialling the system with commercial food growers. The potential is for the system to be sited on farms, providing extra rental income for farmers, and producing crops in a predictable way, regardless of external conditions.”

Home Farm (Nacton)

Home Farm Nacton comprises 1,170 hectares of high quality agricultural land on the historic Orwell Park Estate, on the north bank of Suffolk’s Orwell estuary.
The farm is a patchwork of woodland, heath, grass and arable land which is used for organic vegetable production as well as conventional vegetables and cereals. In total, LEAF marque and Red Tractor certified business grows more than 30 different crops.
The judges said: “Home Farm Nacton is an ethical and productive 4,800 acre family-run estate business with strong environmental credentials. It turns over £5m and employs 50 permanent and up to 100 agency staff, growing crops for supermarkets, veg box schemes and other markets all year round, with planting and harvesting activity almost every day of the year.
“It has developed an organic arm, and specialist crops such as quinoa and naked barley for specific markets, working with other local companies such as Hodmedod in Halesworth.
“It is keen to invest in technology to help its business, and this year spent more than £1.5m on new machinery and a new onion store.”