Potato packing facility at Thetford achieves ‘A’ grade

A SPECIALIST potato enterprise based in East Anglia has scooped a national food safety award for its dedicated packing facility.

The company, Preva Produce, has invested about �3million in a storage and packing plant at Snetterton, near Thetford, and has just been granted the highest possible standard, grade A, by the British Retail Consortium.

“The award of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety for an accredited potato packing facility is a unique achievement within the county,” said senior director Ian Anderson.

The award would open up opportunities for more of its potatoes to gain access to specialist and high value market outlets in Britain and even abroad, he added.

Mr Anderson said that it has been a major challenge across the UK and beyond. His team had to demonstrate at least 12 months’ production data of packed potato products to secure this quality mark. “It was a fairly arduous task to make sure that everything is compliant. No major retailer or food service companies will do business with you until you can demonstrate complete compliance with food safety,” he added.

“It is an essential to help grow the business and make sure that we’re fully compliant from a food safety point of view,” he said. “It covers everything from actual safety of the food from when it arrives, how we store it, how we handle it and make sure that we have the correct quality control and safety procedures. We can show that it will not cause any food safety, hygiene or health issues for the end user.”

Although the packing plant at Snetterton was opened in late 2010, this represents the latest stage of the further investment in quality systems. He has about six regular staff, which can increase to nine. “It has created six permanent positions and hopefully we can expand as we go forward.” The facility has automated pallet-stacking robots and the latest refrigeration units.

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Preva, which works closely with growers across Norfolk and Suffolk, produces high-value products including small potatoes and salad and baby new potatoes. With growers, they also produce pre-pack, chipping and crisping potatoes and also specialise in seed production and handling from their other sites at Little Snoring and Melton Constable.