Grampian Growers Cash In On ChipsNeil Hardie
Grampian Growers has expanded its influence in the UK potato market by buying one of the country’s biggest tattie suppliers to chip shops.
The Montrose-based farmers’ co-operative has bought a Cambridgeshire company now known as Abbey Potatoes Ltd which purchases 25,000 tonnes of potatoes from a group of growers then supplies 50 merchants which distribute to chip shops from Cornwall to Caithness.
The deal, completed last week, comes hard on the heels of Grampian Growers’ acquisition of the merchants WM Fraser Ltd which supplies more than 50 tonnes per week of frying quality potatoes to chip shops in the north east of Scotland.
Grampian Growers managing director, Mark Clark said the WM Fraser business was going from strength to strength and was picking up new chip shop and hotel clients.
“WM Fraser was supplied by Abbey Potatoes for the last 20 years, and as a co-op we’re always looking at core businesses that fit in our industry,” he said.
“We’re receptive to anything that would benefit the 12 farmers in the co-op, six of whom sit on the board.”
The growers who produce for Abbey Potatoes Ltd are based in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
Mr Clark said the new company’s group of 30 dedicated farmers were a potential new market for Grampian Growers core seed potato business.
“They grow mainly Agria, Marquis, Sagitta and Maris Piper , and Agria is the only variety that’s not successfully grown in Scotland,” he said.
“If the EU and UK can’t come to an arrangement over the export of seed potatoes to Europe and the ban is reciprocated there will be no imports of Agria and alternative varieties and suppliers will need to be found.”
Mr Clark added the downturn suffered by the potato trade when chip shops and restaurants were closed during lockdown had now recovered, with trading bouncing back to pre-Covid tonnages in recent weeks.