The vegetable solution

Greenyard Frozen UK is striving to be the nation’s top choice for British-grown vegetables. The company has recently introduced modern technologies to significantly optimise its production processes

Founded in 2002, Pinguin Foods UK gradually made its presence felt across the UK market.

Multiple acquisitions allowed the company to reach a position, where it would be considered one of the country’s leading processors of harvest fresh vegetables and fruit into long-lasting frozen GF 137 bproducts. In 2016, it merged with three other companies – Univeg, Noliko, and Peltracom, under the name of Greenyard, with the headquarters of the new business located in Belgium. Employing more than 9000 employees in 25 countries worldwide, Greenyard now delivers goods and services worth nearly €4.25 billion per year across its four divisions. “The merger brought the four successful businesses together, so that the new organisation can provide a complete offer across the fresh, frozen, horticulture, and prepared categories to its entities’ combined customer base,” Supply Chain Director of the UK’s Frozen division, Adam Shaw points out. “While we are growing independently of each other, we have adopted the same corporate values we are working to promote.”

Pinguin Foods UK now trades under a new moniker – Greenyard Frozen UK, owning and operating two sites in England – one in King’s Lynn, and another in Boston, Lincolnshire. The largest portion of the company’s customer base is formed by the UK’s retail sector, but it supplies the foodservice and industrial sectors, too. Adam proudly states that Greenyard Frozen UK provides the largest range of British-harvested, grown, and prepared vegetables to the national market. “More than 95 per cent of our volume is sold into the UK, which supports our ambition to be the country’s number one supplier of British-provenance produce. We benefit from the proximity we have to our customer base, so we can significantly shorten lead times and offer real flexibility when addressing clients’ needs.”

The highest standards
When we talk about food companies, we take their commitment to supplying the market with products that are nothing but the best, as a prerequisite for their activities. Greenyard Frozen UK relies heavily on the competence of its Technical and Quality Assurance team, which goes to great lengths to ensure that every product complies with customer technical standards, legislation, and nationally-recognised accreditations and standards, such as BRC, LEAF, and Field to Fork. The company also operates a targeted complaints reduction programme in close collaboration with its customers, attempting to improve its production processes. “Furthermore, as we deliver naturally-grown products, we constantly add the latest technologies to our operations, to make sure that our vegetables are cleaned and graded to the highest standards,” he says.

“Our optical colour sorting technology, provided to us by Sortex Bühler, is a good example of modern equipment we have incorporated into our business. The colour sorter traces the products as they travel down the product stream, and when it identifies a bad grain or pea, it shoots a blast of air at that particular item, firing it out of the product stream and into the waste stream. It is not necessarily a new technology, but it is the latest equipment we use, which reduces the number of good items that are thrown away along with the bad ones.”

Innovative ventures
In the dynamic food industry, willingness to innovate is vital if you want to keep your ranges attractive to end users. Greenyard Frozen UK knows that very well, hence the company’s dedication to GF 137 cincessant product innovation. “Our focus on developing original items has been driven by our desire to offer both tasty and nutritional high-convenience products for consumers. We are eager to innovate when we see new trends and opportunities, but we also do that at the request of our customers. The company invests a lot in increasing its capabilities to support these innovation ventures and see the result of them appear in the market,” Adam discusses.

To support his claim with evidence, he goes on to tell us more about the latest product development investments the company has made lately. “We are involved in promoting new packaging formats to enhance the appeal for shoppers in the frozen aisle, including block bottom bags, trays, and zip seal bags. For example, we have just launched a new product – baby potatoes with butter in a steam sachet. I do not think the market has seen anything like this in the frozen category before. Later in 2018, we are also planning to add capabilities to pack in doypacks and quadpacks. Additionally, we are investing in developing the capacity to pack ready-to-eat products, such as fruits and avocado.”

Harvesting campaign
Greenyard Frozen UK has been strategically upgrading its production site in King’s Lynn since 2014. The facility was recently equipped with a new waste water treatment plant that aims to reduce the company’s fresh water usage during the cleaning and the processing of vegetables harvested from the field. “Naturally, we have to use a lot of water in our work. The new plant’s current role is of an anaerobic digestion system, which reduces the dirtiness of the water, in the last 12 months, thus reducing our environmental impact as a major electricity user.”

Looking into the rest of 2018, Adam is excited about the company’s upcoming harvesting campaign, which will begin in June. “We are starting with peas, so the main priority for us in the next several months will be to maximise our production volumes and efficiency.” He also outlines his long-term vision for the business: “We are willing to continue exceeding customer expectations and optimise the efficiency of the end-to-end supply chain. It is also important for us to increase customer intimacy via long-term supply partnerships with our clients. By working closely and sustainably with them, we should be able to drive out unnecessary costs, and reach the growth we are aiming at,” Adam concludes.