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Fresher Sprouts this Christmas thanks to RDPE grant

22/12/2009

It’s that time of year again when a small green vegetable makes its way onto people’s plates and this festive season an East Yorkshire based farm’s sprouts will be fresher thanks to an RDPE grant, managed by Yorkshire Forward.

For Clappisons based at Risby near Beverley, the run up to Christmas is the busiest time of year when demand is five times higher than normal for the sprouts grown at the farm, which is a family partnership that also grows cereals and peas.

The RDPE investment will ensure the sprouts are fresher when they are delivered to their customers which include major supermarket chains, as they will now be packed loose into supermarket trays on site rather than being transported long distances and packed by another company.

RDPE, which stands for Rural Development Programme for England, has £63m to invest in rural businesses over a six year period through a number of programmes. Clappisons accessed their grant through the Rural Enterprise Investment Programme which offers grants starting from £25,000 and is available to rural businesses wanting to grow and become more productive.

The grant has been used  by Clappisons to upgrade the existing sprout grading shed to a British Retail Consortium (BRC) approved and registered pack house and to purchase the equipment to pack loose sprouts into supermarket trays.

Upgrading involved improvements to the existing building and changes to the production line including a new inspection roller table, additional weighing scales, a hopper, a tray conveyer, label printers, BRC standard training for staff and upgrading the IT systems.

This new investment created one full time and one part time job and safe guarded eight jobs. It has provided greater enterprise security by making the business more sustainable and is likely to increase profitability by almost doubling the turnover of sprout sales. 

John Clappison, Managing Director of Clappisons commented; “The grant has enabled us to have the equipment for the 2009-2010 season, allowing the us to take the next commercial step forward from being a grower producing sprouts in bulk to a grower packer. It also provides a platform for further expansion if we should ever decide to go into the preparing market.”

“We can now send sprouts direct to the supermarkets, which will add value to the produce of the farms whilst at the same time reducing the farm’s environmental foot print by reducing haulage cost saving almost 23t CO2 in the first year alone.” 

Andy Tordoff, Assistant Director of Environment at Yorkshire Forward commented; “The Rural Enterprise Investment Programme can be accessed by businesses like Clappisons that process and add value to agricultural produce. RDPE is a flexible package that can be accessed by many rural businesses; we are working hard with our partners to ensure Yorkshire and Humber’s rural businesses take advantage of it.”

RDPE is managed by Yorkshire Forward and is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union. For further information on the different RDPE programmes please visit; www.yorkshire-forward.com/rural