Agroleaf Limited (Newby Farm) specialise in the farming and packaging of strawberries and raspberries, selling their product to large supermarket chains.
Plant Biology graduate Chris Hoggard has been operating a commercial strawberry and raspberry farm at Huggate, East Yorkshire since 1994, supplying large supermarket chains and smaller local farm shops with freshly grown strawberries and raspberries.
In 1997 Chris won his first order from ASDA (Walmart) and has continued to supply them to the present day. In addition, Co-Op has joined his expanding group of nationwide supermarket chains selling his delicious products. Chris has also capitalised on the ‘pick your own’ sites around the East Yorkshire areas of Driffield and Beverley. The company now has an annual turnover of approximately £2m. They have 8 full time employees, however when the season begins they have around 30 plus employees rising to a peak of 200 plus at the height of the season.
The Stevens Group have extensive knowledge and experience in the area of fresh produce weighing across the UK and USA and the installation of the DAWS ‘Vantage’ (Dynamic Average Weight System) allows legal conformity of the finished packed product whilst virtually eliminating giveaway.
Operators are required to weigh each product on a scale as they are guided through an ultra responsive and quick weighing system. The 6 weighing systems are networked to a management PC where the traceability and yield information is stored for Average Weight conformity.
As Average Weight legislation requires that the batch average must be at least the weight of the declared weight, DAWS allows the target weights to be continually adjusted in accordance with the legislation to ensure giveaway is reduced to almost zero.
The fruit and vegetable packing process has been considered to be an area of huge technological advances but despite this progress, the key part of the process – the packaging process – is still reliant on the operators and their ‘personal target weights’. The inconsistent nature of fruit and vegetables in terms of weight, shape and size mean that packaging can be a complex process. Many packaging facilities are now packaging in accordance with the Average Weight legislation (e mark) and at the same time, making every effort to reduce giveaway. Even a few grams on each pack can produce a significant financial loss for the packaging site. In Chris Hoggard’s case, he has reduced his 7% annual over usage to almost zero.
Chris originally purchased six ‘Vantage’ DAWS Systems but recently added a further two systems to the line as the investment was totally self financing.
Stevens’ UK Sales Manager Toby Hawkins explains the advantages of the system: “Agroleaf Limited (Newby Farm) Ltd gave us an exciting opportunity to take our well established Vantage Traceability System and extend its application to the production lines. Agroleaf Limited (Newby Farm) provided a clear specification to work to and our Software department were able to transform the requirement into a very fast and dependable system. Above all, though, Agroleaf Limited (Newby Farm) are an excellent company to work with and the project has been a lot of fun!”
The ‘Vantage’ DAWS System can produce an impressive range of reports, giving a detailed and instant view of the operation at any given time. Typical reporting data relates to Operator Performance, Line Efficiency, Product Performance plus a variety of traceability reports for legal purposes.
Chris Hoggard explains the benefits his company has seen since the implementation of the system: “In addition to providing legal compliance and traceability and stock data, Stevens have enabled us to turn our production yield goals and ambitions into reality. Like us, they are a company who pride themselves on being flexible. They took a standard product and moulded it to fit our process exactly, and we’re delighted with the financial improvement which DAWS has had on our bottom line.”
For further information contact Stevens on 01254 685200 or visit them online at www.dataprocessstevens.com