Stephen Shields is the Technical Director at Huntapac Produce Ltd in Preston, one of our vegetable suppliers. He’s written a blog to share how they produce and deliver fresh British carrots to our customers, 52 weeks of the year.
At Huntapac the products that we supply are intertwined with our business ethos of quality, integrity and trust. We’ve been working with Tesco for over 40 years. It’s a long relationship that is now into its 4th generation of Hunter. The story is best told through the innovation in how we’ve delivered Tesco customers the highest quality carrots and parsnips for four decades. The story of commuting carrots…
Improving quality and freshness
Our quality carrots and parsnips start with the right variety grown on fertile plains. With access to fresh water our dedicated team of crop managers monitor a national growing model across the UK. We use our expertise to ensure we select the best land in which to grow carrots and parsnips. Added to this we use our 40 years of experience to lift the crop out of the ground at the correct temperature to maximise freshness. This ensures that we harvest all our crops at the right time throughout the year. In warmer weather this includes harvesting at night. At our packhouse we wash and pack the produce at the same time. This reduces extra handling, crop being wasted and seals in the freshness for customers.
In the lead up to the Christmas period when the weather turns chilly we identify our best fields close to our pack houses. We cover the crop with a thin plastic and straw to insulate the growing carrots. Even if there’s a frost or snow we can remove the straw and plastic and still lift fresh carrots for Tesco customers in time for Christmas.
Reducing food waste
We’ve developed a key mineral enrichment project to help protect the soils we grow in. We identify what soils are the best at a given time to ensure we get the best use out of them. We bring the soils back to the natural balance mineral state which optimises the field yield and reduces potential wastage on the farm. In our packhouse we’ve moved to washing and packing in one swift system. It not only improves freshness and shelf life but prevents wastage of crop left standing. All our un-harvested product is being utilised through the UK Gleaning and FareShare network. Our excess edible crop is saved and sent to charities.
Transporting the goods
A key part of the history of Huntapac has been the development of our transport fleet. We transport all our own produce across the UK directly to Tesco. We have 110 refrigerated trailers taking fresh produce to Tesco. We were one of the first companies to bring in refrigerated vehicles. We’ve used hundreds of trucks since our first Leyland Beaver in the 1960s.
We’ve restored 34 of our classic vehicles which are now located in our museum. The evolution of our vehicle technology has been important in bringing fresh produce to market quickly.
We’re always looking at ways to improve our lorries to help lower costs for customers and reduce our footprint on the planet. We’re trialling a truck with reduced carbon emissions. You’ll be able to spot our Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered truck on-the-roads soon in our Huntapac green branding.
Our strong continued partnership with Tesco means that customers will always get from us the freshest British vegetables. Although we are a progressive forward thinking produce business we haven’t forgotten our family values and our farming roots.