Wormingford: Farm crisp factory launched

A POTATO farmer has crunched the numbers and invested in his own on-site crisp factory.

Essex-based potato farm Fairfields has invested in a brand new packing, processing and manufacturing unit, boosting jobs in the local area.

Fairfields Farm, run by Robert Strathern, has been growing potatoes for generations and back in 2006 launched a high-quality crisp brand to add value to its crop.

Since then the business, based at Wormingford, near Colchester, has gone from strength to strength, adding a further crisp brand, Jackpots, to its portfolio in 2010, and launching the Fairfields Farm brand of potatoes in Co-op and Budgens stores across East Anglia.

Now, after years of hard work, the business has achieved its ultimate goal and built a brand new manufacturing unit on site, allowing the potatoes to go from field to packet with the lowest food miles possible.

“We’ve always wanted to build our own manufacturing unit, but it’s taken many years of hard work to get to this point,” explained third-generation potato farmer Robert.

“The new plant means we can now harvest, wash, grade and pack our potatoes, and manufacture our crisps within only a few metres of our fields. We’ve also built a new cold store on site.”

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The new factory, which was conceived in January 2011 and finally opened in March 2012, has also allowed the firm to employ 14 new members of staff, ranging from factory and packing personnel, to telesales and accounting.

“Getting the factory up and running has been a hard and tiring process, it’s a big adjustment,” said Robert.

“But now it is running really smoothly and allows us to have far more control over our core potato brand, as well as our crisps.”

The new factory makes Fairfields Farm one of a very few crisp makers that not only grows its own potatoes, but also manufactures them on site.

Robert is hoping that it will allow the business to grow further in the future.

“It means we can develop new flavours on-site and make changes as and when we need to. We now have full control of all our products, which is so exciting,” he said.

?The farm has just been nominated for a Sourced Locally award.