When you consider the impact of the food and drink industry on both the economy and our quality of life, it becomes clear that innovation is essential for the population as a whole. At the core of this development are the individual producers and manufacturers who become the vehicles for growth and opportunity.
An excellent example of farm diversification and food innovation is Bruce Farms. Farming began in 1898 for the Bruce’s and is now directed by father and son team Bill Bruce and Geoff Bruce, who are third and fourth generation respectively. The first farm, covering 300 acres, was leased 120 years ago and at the time was a conventional agriculture business. Since then, the business has expanded significantly and owns multiple farms around Meigle amounting to 1,600 acres.
The business cultivates over 10,000 acres of premium agricultural farmland producing peas, beans, potatoes, soft fruit, cereals and cattle. From their base in Perthshire, 30 full time staff and 250 seasonal workers, pick, pack and distribute across Scotland and the UK to some of the UK’s most respected food and retail brands including Bird’s Eye, Ribena and Albert Bartlett’s.
This evolution of a family business has taken place over many years and one of the key methods of diversification has been the introduction of new crops.
Today, they produce 1,500 tonnes of barley for malting, 14,000 tonnes of potatoes for Albert Bartlett, 500 tonnes of blackcurrants for Ribena, 1,000 tonnes of strawberries and raspberries for supermarket and a pedigree herd of Charolais cattle for breeding.
In addition, they produce peas and beans on almost 8,900 acres of mainly rented Perthshire land which in 2019 took the total farmed area to over 10,500 acres.
Proud of their heritage as farmers, their most recent evolution has been to take their world-class harvest and develop a product that could be eaten on the go. By utilising and building upon their core product and existing skills in retail and distribution, they have successfully infiltrated the healthy snack market.
After two years in development, in March 2019 they launched Podberry, an innovative new freeze-dried seasoned pea snack. Proven to be one of your five a day, the end result is a premium, on-the-go snack that is high in protein, and comes in two varieties – sea salt and balsamic vinegar and sweet chilli peas. The first wave of retail opportunities has seen the product placed into farm shops, delis and independent foodhalls, and Podberry has recently secured a listing with the retailer Morrisons.
With long-term plans looking towards exporting world-wide, Bruce Farms prides itself on respect for the heritage of the land it cultivates, whilst constantly innovating though its use of cutting-edge technology to diversity its agricultural offering.