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British-grown sweet potatoes

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There has been a lot of excitement recently with the news that sweet potatoes are now being grown in Britain – particularly regarding the thought that this will cut down on the vegetable’s carbon footprint.

Here at Rush we are very conscious of food miles, carbon footprint and are proud supporters of British grown food, but we can’t help but feel that the way this story has been reported is a little over-simplistic.

Whilst we agree that not having to import sweet potatoes from America will obviously decrease the vegetables carbon footprint when it comes to transport, fresh produce’s CO2 emissions don’t come solely from this stage of the cycle. It is highly likely that these sweet potatoes will be grown in heated polythene tunnels, using special mulch – both of which emit a large amount of carbon dioxide.

It’s only a guess, but we suspect that the yield per acre for British sweet potatoes is going to be far less than their American cousins, where the average is 15-20 tonne an acre. This lower yield translates again into a proportionally higher carbon dioxide emission per acre for the British grown varieties.

So whilst we are very excited about locally grown sweet potatoes and support everyone involved, we believe that it will take another five to ten years, with significant agronomy and technical advances, before we can truly grow a sweet potato with less of a carbon footprint than those imported from USA, Honduras,  Spain, Portugal, Egypt and Israel.

Rush thinks it would be great if Britain grew their own sweet potatoes, but to do that would require someone producing breeds and varieties that can actually grow naturally in the local climate. That is probably a long way off – and by the way, if it isn’t we would love to hear from you.

 

Rush’s Polish office has two new members

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Rush’s increasing business in Eastern Europe has meant that the Polish office has recently grown in size. Eryka Kutryj and Adam Owczarek are the new recruits and taking five minutes out of their busy day they explain amongst other things, why they were keen to join Rush and what they see as the biggest challenges in the Polish fresh produce market.

What is your role?

Eryka: I am Marcin and Justyna’s assistant. My main duties involve researching the fruit and vegetable market in Eastern Europe, with particular emphasis on leeks, onions, broccoli and cauliflowers. I also help organise all transportation on a daily basis, as well as looking into improving fresh produce haulage in general in Poland and other East European countries, as presently most local companies are mainly interested in West Europe, but obviously we need to provide the normal Rush transportation service to all our customers, wherever they are.

Adam: I am a trader’s assistant; most of my working day is spent dealing with the wholesale markets, particularly dealing with pomelos, celeriac, onions, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and lemons. I prepare offers and customise them to fit their individual needs. Wholesale markets in Poland are in a constant state of flux, no two days are the same, which requires me to be in constant contact on a daily basis to keep up to date with the state of the markets. I also organise transport and make sure that each delivery is as seamless as possible, as Rush’s reputation of delivering on time needs to be preserved.

What did you do before joining Rush?

Eryka: I was working for a global haulage company in United Kingdom – hence Marcin and Justyna asking me to help with transportation in Poland and around.

Adam: I was working for the Poland’s largest supermarket nursery product supplier, dealing in such items as fruit trees. This gave me the necessary experience of dealing in perishable goods.

What made you want to get into the fresh produce industry?

Eryka: Because it is such a vibrant and exciting industry to work in. It is ever-changing, developing and growing on a regular basis, meaning no two days are ever the same.

Adam: Much the same as Eryka really. This industry, particularly in Eastern Europe is changing rapidly and in turn creating opportunities that need to be seized and problems that need to be sorted. I am naturally drawn to turning a negative as a positive and so providing the best deals for both growers and customers alike.

What made you want to join Rush Group?

Eryka: Rush has a true global presence with offices throughout Europe and South East Asia, however its approach is still a personal one. This means, even though my colleagues might be miles away in different time zones, we all still operate as one team, which gives our customers a unique access to fresh produce all around the world.

Adam: A whole mixture of reasons, including the people who have such a positive, energetic and intelligent approach to their work. There is also a very friendly atmosphere, which means that everyone, wherever they are in the world works together, ensuring that our customers have a connection with some of the finest growers and farmers in the world.

What do you see as the main issues facing the fresh produce industry in Poland at the moment and how are you tackling them?

Eryka: The hot summer this year has caused real problems for us, as it has created a real lack of variety with some of Poland’s most popular vegetables. I am actively working with new, but trusted growers, to help fill this void.

Adam: As Eryka has already said the blistering hot summer where temperatures reached 35˚C this year, has meant a real shortage in some vegetables – particularly potatoes and large onions. In the wholesale market there are also extra problems with supermarkets slashing their prices, and my customers need to lower the prices too. To alleviate this issue, we approach wholesale market customers and supermarkets customers in a way that suits their particular needs. Rather than treating all our customers in exactly the same way, we treat them as individuals and so offer each sector something completely different, according to their requirements.

What do you believe Rush can offer your customers that other fresh produce companies cannot?

Eryka and Adam: Our international network of offices translates into our customers having an infinite variety of fresh produce available 365 days a year, delivered at the right price, the right quality and at the right time.

From seed potato to potato harvest

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Rush Group’s commitment to be involved with its crop from seed to sale is no more relevant than with its potatoes.

A hand-picked collection of Rush Group’s trusted potato farmers have been given the seed potatoes for next year’s crop, enabling the Group to be involved and in control of the entire process. The potatoes that are yielded from this crop, eight months later, will then be bought back by Rush, to fulfil orders, some of which will be placed in advance.

Rush’s potato growers like this arrangement, as they know that they will have a crop that will yield well. This is because they have been provided with seed potatoes that because of both Rush’s and the farmers’ knowledge are suitable for their particular soil and climate. Added to this, is that the crop should have a profitable market, based on Rush’s understanding of and experience in, the potato market. The farmers also have the assurance that will get paid for the crop they are growing, rather than leaving it to chance.

The Group’s customers also benefit from this method, as they can be confident that they know in advance exactly what potatoes they will be receiving. They are secure in the knowledge that the combination of Rush’s reliable supply base and technical product knowledge, translates into the right crop being grown and being delivered in the right condition at the right price.

This hands-on approach to its crop has proved highly successful for Rush and is going from strength to strength. Guy Burgoyne says: “ We have been carrying out this method for a while now with great success, so now is the right time to spread the news. This practice is particularly popular with our customers in the supermarket, catering, wholesale and packing sectors, as we are able to grow to order for them – which means no last minute panics, as they know what they are going to get.”

If you are interested in growing potatoes for, or buying potatoes from Rush Group, please contact Guy Burgoyne

 

 

Meet Nat Bacon

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Nat heads up Rush Group’s onion business and is spending a lot of time travelling to the Middle East and Europe, where he is busy building up an ever-growing network of clients looking to import onions.

Farming is in your blood- tell us more

I grew up on a mixed farm in Norfolk, so I am passionate about agriculture and the British countryside (and other rural regions of the world). I worked on the farm throughout my time at school, when I was reading Ecology at Edinburgh and then whilst studying Land Management at Reading. The combinations of these academic and practical experiences have really helped me understand about both the natural and mechanical issues faced by farmers on a daily basis.

I really admire Rush’s ‘from seed to sale’ approach. I think it is really important to both grower and customer that we are fully involved in everything we handle, right throughout the supply chain.

What attracted you to the fresh produce industry?

Apart from my farming background, I have always been interested in the notion of ‘less land, more mouths to feed’ and the way that agriculture and the food industry is currently evolving. These changes are throwing up many fresh challenges each day and with more pressure and instability in the world, these are only going to become more volatile and testing in the future.

This dynamic industry is ever-changing and no two days are the same. I like to think of myself as an organised person, so I enjoy the whole logistical process, making sure that everything is collected and delivered on time with the right documentation. However, I do also understand the practicalities of farming so can accommodate for delays or difficult scenarios which can arise when moving fresh produce around the world.

Why Rush?

I saw the job advertised on the internet, and I liked the international feel of the company. Having spent time in Africa, I enjoy discovering different countries and cultures, and it became clear in my interview that Rush was keen to expand on a global basis.

I also warmed to the challenge of building the company’s onion business from scratch and developing relationships with growers and customers from all around the world on a daily basis.

Tell us how you are working with British onion growers?

As any farmer will tell you, some seasons are better than others, and this European season is a challenging one due to a surplus of produce and the slight dip in demand. However, the good news is, British onions (and potatoes) are regarded as some of the finest in the world by our overseas customers, so I have been actively marketing their products abroad. In fact I have just come back from Dubai, where I was doing just this and we are hoping to increase the volume we are sending to our Malaysian office.

Why Dubai?

It holds such fantastic opportunities for us, primarily because it has to import all its fresh produce. Dubai is also a massive distribution hub for the whole of the UAE through its port at Jebel Ali which has the capacity to hold 90,000 containers! The wholesale market is incredibly impressive and in addition to the multi-tiered retail market and huge choice of originality of produce, I believe there is huge potential for European onions.

What did you learn on your recent trip?

Masses – I don’t know where to start! Mainly though, it was the face to face meetings which I thought were the most valuable. The understanding of a culture and etiquette one builds up through travelling and the resulting rapport with potential customers is so important when looking to do business. It just goes to remind one, that however sophisticated the fresh produce market has become, nothing beats the personal touch.

If you are looking for a reliable supply of onions, or are an onion grower looking for new markets, please contact Nat Bacon

The Caribbean – growing trade and changing perception

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Rush Group has a long history of exporting fresh produce, in particular potatoes and onions to the Caribbean and in recent months the trade partnership has grown and strengthened. Tom Ebdon, who heads up the Group’s Caribbean business has just returned from a business trip where he visited a number of islands to spend valuable time with Rush’s ever-growing number of customers in this area.

Tom had already spent three to four months talking to the various companies in the Caribbean before his trip, some of which were established clients and some new. The one common thread that united all these conversations was the pre-conceived notion that Rush would be more expensive than other Northern European countries such as Holland.

While Tom was in the Caribbean, he took the opportunity to explain that other than price, Rush could offer benefits that would make switching from their normal suppliers highly attractive. This could include shorter transit times to the Caribbean and a year round supply chain.

Tom explains: “ We may not always be the cheapest, but we are always competitive and that is something I tried to get across in my meetings. The Caribbean has a long history of importing its fresh produce from Holland.  Whilst we do not want to hinder this current trade, we would like to offer the diversity which a second supplier can offer.  I explained that our global footprint translates into a more reliable supply base.  Something other companies cannot offer’.

The various Islands’ Phytosanitary requirements are unique to each country and Rush Group’s product and technical knowledge is invaluable. This expertise alongside their ability to supply competitively priced fresh produce 365 days a year, has lead to Rush beginning to supply garlic to this ever growing market place.

If you are in the Caribbean and are looking for a company that not only understands your industry but also the Caribbean market, please contact Tom Ebdon today.

 

Providing potatoes, onions and more to Eastern Europe

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Rush Group is continuing to expand its presence in Eastern Europe, with the company now also covering Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece.

Rush has the considerable advantage of having Hajnalka Erdos, a native Hungarian, looking after this area. The combination of having an office in the heart of the region run by a local helps overcome many obstacles normally associated with the fresh produce industry. The product range is wide and varied and includes, potatoes, onions, cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli, but with an ever-growing demand from a region that is not agriculturally self-supportive, this list is only going to expand.

Rush’s global network of farmers and suppliers is really helping the company gain a strong foothold in Eastern Europe as they can offer their customers competitive prices and top quality crops, due to the Group’s ability to source fresh produce on a world wide scale. It is this broad scope approach that has helped them compete in an already competitive market. Hajnalka admits that having access to a global market, through her colleagues work and knowledge, has been invaluable. She says: “It might seem to the outside world that I am on my own in Hungary, but nothing could be further from the truth – the reality is that I can talk to my colleagues all over the world and then use that information to give my customers here in Eastern Europe well-priced, top quality fresh produce.”

Looking to the future, there is a feeling that, as the countries Hajnalka deals with change and develop, some of Rush’s competitors will fall by the way side. There will be more of a focus on companies who are looking to form long-term relationships with their clients, rather than just looking to make a quick profit and move on. Rush’s longevity offers its customers stability and reliability, which in today’s current market is a valuable commodity.

Hajnalka is also passionate about the produce that is grown in her territory. She concedes that being Hungarian might make her biased but she says: “ Due to the hot summers in Eastern Europe the sugar content (brix) of the local vegetables gives them a really sweet taste. I am really looking forward to growing my product range, to include Hungarian sweet corn, asparagus, Champion mushrooms, Serbian blackcurrants or Croatian mandarins, so people can get to taste for themselves, how great local produce tastes.”

So if you are based in Eastern Europe and looking for a reliable source of fresh produce, please contact Hajnalka today.

Investment in technology – changing the perception of Polish apples

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Over the past decade, Poland has made significant investments into top fruit production. Focus on the development of better-organised grower groups has led to Poland becoming an apple producing region that rivals France and Italy.

A vast amount has been invested into orchard development and post-harvest operations. This investment leaves Polish growers with some of the most sophisticated facilities across Europe. An impressive example of this is the increased CA storage capacity which is up nearly 650 000 tonnes in the last ten years and will be over 1 million tonnes in the not-so-distant future. Another example is the investment taken by some of Rush Groups growers to install hail nets, worth up to €70 000 per ha.

Investments into Ultra Low Oxygen (ULO) storage, a system that inhibits and delays the physiological processes in stored fruit, has extended the marketability of the growers fruit for up to nine months (variety dependant).

Improvements in grading systems have also increased the reliability of Polish apples. Optical graders are now common place and Rush Group with its dedicated growers strive to ensure that what you order is what you get.

Please call Andrew Chance to discuss a consistent and reliable supply of top quality Polish apples.

Polish Apples

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Sanctions on EC fresh produce imposed by Russia have created interesting challenges and opportunities within the fresh produce industry. One of these is faced by Polish apple producers who will need to find and explore new markets for Poland’s vast apple production, most of which was destined for Russia.

Rush Group has been exporting Polish apples for many years now and is well placed to provide an established export market for its trusted supply base. Rush believes that this situation creates an excellent opportunity for their clients around the globe to explore the wide variety of apples that Poland has to offer.

The Group’s Polish apple growers can supply a reliable and constant source of delicious apples at exceptionally competitive prices to markets all over the world. The varieties of apples (most of which are red) that are available include: Derbal, Paulared, Delikates, Lobo, Gala Royal, Gala Must, Szampion, Golden Delicious, Pinova, Elise, Ligol, Jonagold, Jonagored, Redprince, Alwa, Gloster and Idared.

Rush Group has been actively working with Polish apple growers who have invested significant amounts of money and time into ensuring that their apples are of the highest possible quality. Investments into hail nets and ULO storage units as well as highly advanced grading systems are allowing the Group’s growers to produce fruit to an incredibly high standard, to match and better that of other European growing regions like Austria, France and Italy.
It goes without saying that all of the apples sourced from the farmers have the right certification to get their crops to the required world-class accreditation standards.
So if you are looking for a competitively-priced reliable source of delicious apples, please contact Andrew Chance and enjoy making the switch to Polish apples.

Fresh Produce Wholesale Markets

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Rush Group supply wholesale markets with a diverse product range including: potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, onions, spring onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, apples, garlic and sweet corn.

Rush understands that, in addition to providing a reliable 52 week supply of fresh produce, the key to a successful business relationship is communication. This well-connected and entrepreneurial group of wholesale clients have an excellent understanding of business and their industry as a whole. They therefore expect a similar level of professionalism and commitment from their suppliers too. Rush strives to make the lives of these busy people easier by supplying at the right price and quality whilst recognising their unique work schedules.

Another of Rush Group’s strengths is their far-reaching network of suppliers and growers which derives from their diverse product portfolio and professionalism in Fresh Produce. This means the Group are readily able to help any wholesaler who cannot find what they want or may be looking for a supply of an alternative product line. It is this approach that has helped maintain so many long-term business relationships within the wholesale market and also facilitate the development of new ones.

The wholesale customer base is spread throughout Great Britain, including wholesalers in Spitalfields, New Covent Garden and Western International in London, Smithfield Market in Manchester, The Wholesale Market Birmingham, St. James Wholesale Market Bradford, The Wholesale Market in Newcastle, Glasgow Wholesale Markets and Dublin Wholesale Market. Rush’s knowledge of international and regional supply chains along with their flexible approach means customers can choose to collect their own produce or have it delivered at a time which suits them.

The sectors that Rush Group’s wholesale customers supply: retail, hotels, catering, restaurants, armed forces, schools, universities and colleges, football clubs and major events.

So if you are a wholesaler looking for a reliable and consistent source of fresh produce delivered at the right time, the right quality and the right price, please contact Nat Bacon (onions and potatoes), Sam Crocker (sweet potatoes and butternut squash) or Andrew Chance (apples) today.

Meet Hajnalka Erdos

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Hajnalka, is part of Rush Group’s Eastern European team, originally from Hungary, she now works in Rush’s London office, but will soon be heading home to open the Group’s Hungarian office in Budapest.

What made you want to work in England in the fresh produce industry?

I originally came to England straight after university to work in both London and Bournemouth. This experience not only improved my English, but also intensified my ambition to work in England full time.

Following my return to Hungary, I started working for a supermarket supplier, mainly dealing with Tescos. I like the fact that in the fresh produce industry, no two days are the same, in this industry the weather and other conditions can have an instant and dramatic affect on the price and availability of crops.

How did you hear about Rush Group?

During my time working for the supermarket supplier, I started buying broccoli with my now colleague Justyna Wawrzynczyk. I loved the idea that this Polish lady was working for this British company, so I decided to write to Rush and see if there was any possibility of me working for them.

So what happened next?

I heard back from Sam Crocker, who knew I was going to Fruit Logistica in February 2013, so he suggested we meet up there.

How have you found your experience at Rush so far?

I have absolutely loved it, the whole team are so supportive and professional, you never feel alone, but at the same time the management give you the freedom to carve out your own business plan, which gives you a chance to really prove yourself.

You are going back home soon?

Yes I will be setting up the Rush office in Budapest, which will be really exciting, as well as bit daunting. However I know that I will have the full backing of Rush’s main office and the Group’s infrastructure, so hopefully it wont be too difficult.

What will you be trading in Budapest?

Alongside potatoes and the Group’s core product range, I will be looking to expand into exporting Hungarian sweet corn, both fresh and processed, to UK and Scandinavia. I am determined to make a success of it, and with all the training and assistance that Rush has provided me with, it is now just up to me.

If you are looking for a regular supply of fresh produce in or from Eastern Europe, please contact Hajnalka today.