Meet the member: Barfoots

Barfoots founder

What was originally established as a small farm in Hampshire with just a few acres, Barfoots has grown to be one of the biggest suppliers of premium fresh produce in the UK. Now, 45 years later, founder Peter Barfoot is still very much at the helm of the business, chairing the board and keeping a close eye on the business and wider industry news.

Barfoots achieves an annual turnover of nearly £200 million and employs hundreds of staff across their multiple farms, processing and packing sites in the UK, Spain, Senegal and South Africa. This wide expansion enables Barfoots to provide their customers with veg all-year-round.

Global output

Barfoots became a member of fiin in 2017, with the aim of improving the credibility and reliability of both their brand and the wider supply chain that they operate within. We recently spoke with Keston Williams, Barfoots technical director, to hear how they are tackling food waste and reducing their carbon footprint.

“We supply Britain’s leading supermarkets with premium veg, from asparagus and baby corn to pumpkins, sweet potato and butternut squash. We don’t waste any of the whole head veg that doesn’t meet the specification due to being an odd shape or the wrong size. It is used to make pre-prepared food such as pre-coated sweet potato chips or ready to cook fresh soup packs. It’s our way of reducing food waste and transforming produce, that may have otherwise been disregarded, into a value-added product,” Keston explains.

“In 2010 we built out first anaerobic digestor which allows us to produce all our own energy and send a huge amount back to the national grid. This is fed on green vegetable waste that is not suitable for food (e.g. Sweetcorn Husk). This was a huge contribution to us becoming carbon neutral.”

How fiin has helped to protect Barfoots strong reputation

Keston tells us how becoming a member of fiin became a logical step for Barfoots in an effort to improve transparency in the supply chain. “By working with such an extensive network of businesses  involved in fiin, we have access to a massive pool of market intelligence. As we supply a large proportion of premium vegetables to the UK, we have a lot of influence in the supply chain which makes it all the more important that we are alerted to any issues that arise.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to learn and share information in an open, non-competitive environment, which can be hard to come by,” Keston says.

“Pressures caused by the pandemic and Brexit have led to a rise in fraudulent behaviour in the industry. Where margins have been tight and prices have increased, there will always be somebody out there trying to cheat the system. fiin provides us with the space to learn about these issues and tackle them head on.”

Looking to the future, particularly as UK agriculture undergoes a period of change and new trade deals are formed, Keston praises the organisation’s role within the industry.

“fiin is a tremendous asset to Britain’s food supply chain. There is definitely strength in numbers when it comes to tackling these types of issues. As more businesses join, we can continue to help  eradicate food fraud in our country.”

 

Barfoots top 3 benefits of being a part of fiin:

  • Having close links to expert peers within the industry and having a platform to share information and flag issues
  • Being part of a community that are trying to positively stamp out unacceptable behaviour and pushing the risk of food fraud out of the UK
  • Networking opportunities with other like-minded business-people from throughout the supply chain in a non-competitive environment