July 1, 2008

Onion-Peeling Line Will Mean More Jobs for Vegetable Firm

The availability of fresh peeled onions in Cornwall for bakeries and wholesalers has taken a major step forward as the result of a substantial investment by a local vegetable processor.

Hay Farm Produce, based at Antony in South East Cornwall, has taken delivery of a state-of-the-art Finis onion-peeling line.

The total investment of almost pounds300,000 was supported by EU Objective One grants of over pounds115,000, enabling the firm to improve product output and increase quantity and quality of supply of produce to local food producers.

Hay Farm Produce supplies a range of washed and prepared vegetables, including potatoes, onions and swedes, to bakeries in the county, including Ginsters, Tamar Foods, Proper Cornish Ltd and W C Rowe.

It made the investment following an increasing demand for its products.

Jeremy Oatey, its managing partner, said: "Since its creation in 2001, Hay Farm Produce has become a significant supplier of potatoes and vegetables, particularly to pasty makers in Cornwall. Our existing onion-peeling line was working at full capacity and could only peel onions in a very limited size range.

"The new second line is much more versatile, and has a significantly higher output.

"Fresh onions, once peeled, have a limited shelf life. Quality is maintained the closer use is to peeling. Some of our customers have historically had to transport peeled onions down from Lincolnshire and further afield, with a resulting decline in cooking quality, as there has been no-one in the South West able to cater for their needs.

"Our delivery service means we can respond to orders seven-days- a-week if required, ensuring the freshest onions are available daily and enabling bakeries to respond rapidly to order changes, using fresh rather than frozen ingredients.

"Also, most of the potatoes and vegetables we process are sourced from our own farms or other Cornish growers - the exception being onions, which have proved difficult to source locally in the sizes we could process.

"With improved versatility we are hoping to open up a new crop opportunity for farmers in the county. We have already planted our first crop of onion sets at Antony, which will be closely monitored to assess future potential."

The investment in the new line at Hay Farm Produce has also led to a number of former temporary workers being employed on a full- time basis following an increase in the workload.

The company, started seven years ago as a means of adding value to the crops grown on the Antony Estate, is planning a further increase in the number of people it employs as demand for traditional Cornish pasty ingredients grows.

Hay Farm Produce is in buildings which up until 1999 housed a herd of 160 cattle before conversion into the vegetable-processing facility. The business employs 20 people full time.

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.