Today (20th September 2022) mark’s the start of Love British Food Fortnight. A celebration of all those who make up the food and farming industry. To champion work-class food production, low food miles, supporting local food businesses within your own community and the importance of buying British. And so I had to write a piece for the meet the producer section showcasing an impressive potato and fresh produce business.
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Duncan Worth and some of his 700 strong team at AH Worth in Lincolnshire. Duncan’s family business stretches across two operating sites at Holbeach and Fosdyke, where they process and pack potatoes, as well as fresh produce including sweetcorn, spinach, kale, leeks.
Duncan is the 4th generation of the Worth family farming and running the business. Today he oversees the management of 7500 acres of grade 1 silt in Lincolnshire, where 20,000 tons of potatoes are grown, with a further 80,000 tons brought in from neighbouring farms. Crops including wheat, sugar beet, vining peas, leeks and kale are also grown in between the 1 in 8 year potato crop rotation.
AH Worth has a wide variety of customers ranging from retailers such as Tesco and Aldi, to convenience brands like HelloFresh, who work closely with the business to ensure the produce grown is of the correct quality, value, consistency, and taste.
The packhouses also process freshly prepared potato dishes, sliced, diced with oils and butters for variety and ease of preparation for the consumer.
The core values of the business are recognised to everyone as The Spirit of AH Worth, broken down into six key areas; Sustainability, Participation, Integrity, Relationships, Innovation and Teamwork.
One of the biggest challenge for AH Worth is staff retention, with 70% of the workforce speaking English as their secondary language. Due to the location, Brexit and Covid-19, this has put incredible strain on the business. Investing in automation has helped with some processes and involving all staff in awareness campaigns, fun events and providing wage packets above minimum wage / cost of living has maintained operations.
AH Worth has been involved with the local community by joining in with the national campaign Open Farm Sunday and Tractors into Schools, helping to immerse young people in how food is grown, prepared and reaches the supermarket shelf or plate.
Sustainability, innovation and working in cohesion with the environment are vital components considered as part of the farming and processing business. An onsite AD plant generates 90% of the electric used for example and rainwater is harvested to be used for washing the crops.
One of the things that Duncan and I both agreed on was the enjoyment of eating potatoes without peeling their skin. It’s so time consuming and in effect you are removing the part of the crop that hold the most nutrients within. So if you have a couple of take home messages from this blog, is don’t bother peeling your spuds!! And where possible buy British!
Now tell me, what is your favourite thing to do with a potato? Personally, I love to make my own chips by literally chopping up into small wedges, sprinkling with some sea salt and adding a glug of rapeseed oil.
Place on a baking tray and cook for 35-40 minutes at 200c. Take out half way through and give a turn to ensure both sides become crispy and they don’t stick to the tray.