Farming feature: UK's leading export port for agriculture unveils new fertiliser facility
PUBLISHED: 15:11 03 May 2019
© Stephen Waller
UK farming's main gateway to overseas trade was given a boost this week with the opening of a new fertiliser plant.
The Port of Ipswich's importance to the local and regional economy was underlined at the opening of the new £700k facility, demonstrating the role it plays in importing and exporting key agricultural products.
The launch of the blending and bagging plant, based at the port's Coldock Bulk Bagging terminal, means that grain, seed and fertiliser firm COFCO, which operates out of it, will be able to increase the range it can offer to UK farmers, as well as develop new products and improve its distribution.
Overall, the investment, which also includes new delivery trucks and other equipment, comes to around £2m for the site, and has created six new jobs.
Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, who officially unveiled the new plant, said the port, which supports nearly 2,000 jobs, is already worth around £122m to the local economy, with the aim of increasing that to around £24m over the next five years.
The historic port had adapted and grown to be “the thriving trading centre it is today”, she said, and the support it provided to the food and farming industry would not have been possible without the backing of port owners Associated British Ports (ABP) and of COFCO. Today it is the UK's leading export port for agricultural products.
“On our farm on the Euston Estate, we grow a wide range of crops, all of which depends on quality feed and fertilisers,” said Lady Euston.
“This really is an exciting international business project and one which brings new investment and global expertiser from around the world.”
The investment was “what our economy in the UK needs and deserves in order to thrive and grow”, she added.
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Guests at the opening event, at which a bagging demonstration took place, included keynote speaker and BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson. ABP chief executive Henrik Pederson, UK COFCO boss Mark Dordery and ABP short sea ports director Andrew Harston also attended.
Mr Harston said ABP was “delighted” at the latest investment to help grow the business of its customer, COFCO International UK. “Together with ABP's other two East Anglian ports of Lowestoft and King's Lynn, Ipswich plays a vital role in supporting the regional economy and local jobs.”
Mr Dordery said the new Ipswich facilities were “key” to helping it develop its range of fertiliser products and services for its growing customer base across East Anglia and the UK.
“Growers face increasing challenges to produce crops as cost-effectively as possible to meet consumer demands whilst being increasingly aware of environmental requirements.
“The modern and highly efficient facilities at the new plant will help us refine our current fertiliser products whilst allowing us to develop and introduce exciting new options including Limus Nitrogen Management, BASF's latest urea inhibitor technology, to help UK growers achieve greater production efficiency in the future.”
Lady Euston said it was a “marvellous” new facility, in a county which can trace its trading roots back to the early 7th century, with the Port of Ipswich “at the heart of connecting people, goods and services to so many places around the world”.
She welcomed the latest development on a personal level too, because on the family farm on the Euston Estate grows a wide range of crops, all of which depend on the production of quality feed and fertilisers, she said.
She was “well aware” of the value of this business to the agri-industry here at home and around the world, she said.
“From wool, to shipbuilding; and farm machinery to brick and cement making, the port has adapted and grown to be the thriving trading centre it is today,” she added.
“For well over 200 years, the port has supported the food and farming industry, which would not have been possible without those like ABP and COFCO, who have the imagination, determination and expertise to innovate and invest for the future.”
COFCO International is part of China's COFCO Corporation, believed to be the world's largest agribusiness, while ABP owns and operates 21 ports across England, Scotland and Wales,