New Co’path plant will secure future of 130 staff

Drysdales MD Chris Keenan with MSP Richard Lochhead sorting sprouts at the official opening the new sprout production and storage facility
Drysdales MD Chris Keenan with MSP Richard Lochhead sorting sprouts at the official opening the new sprout production and storage facility

A STATE of the art £1.6 million sprout processing facility at Cockburnspath based company R. and K. Drysdale Ltd, was opened yesterday (Wednesday, February 29) by Scottish Government Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

It will not only secure the future of the existing 130 staff but will also provide 20 new jobs.

The new facility is also expected to result in an additional £1 million of continual spend in the local economy, as well as improve product quality and reduce waste.

Mr Lochhead was at the plant near Cockburnspath, to view the new facility at the long-established, agricultural business, Drysdales which supplies British supermarkets with over 28,000 tonnes of fresh Scottish vegetables all year round.

Mr Lochhead said: “I am delighted to officially open Drysdales’ impressive new sprout processing facility at Cockburnspath which has been supported by a Scottish Government food processing grant of almost £0.65m. Drysdales are a fine example of a Scottish company totally focused on meeting the needs of their customers - both home and abroad - whilst providing a secure market for a large number of Scottish growers.

“I wish the staff and management of the company every success for the future.”     

The new processing facility washes, peels and packs sprouts that are supplied to leading supermarkets, such as Tesco.

Angus Bell, Tesco category buying manager for Local in Scotland said: “Drysdale’s new facility will give the capacity to handle additional sprout throughput and it will also result in temperature controlled processing and storage which will further improve product quality to our customers and reduce any waste.

“This is a fantastic new facility which will result in a guaranteed supply of quality, locally grown sprouts being available to all our customers. We have a strong working relationship with Drysdales and we look forward to growing our business together in the future.”

The impact of the facility is already being felt; since Christmas Drysdales sprouts have maintained quality beyond their competitors.

And it’s not just in this country that Drysdale sprouts are enjoyed. New export business is keeping local staff employed for longer than the usual peak period with around 500 tonnes being eaten across western Europe. Drysdales sprouts can be found in Amsterdam, Gothenburg and inevitably, Brussels.

The company delivers to its leading supermarket multiples 364 days of the year and this is only achievable with a highly motivated loyal workforce, continued capital investment and commitment to innovation.

A grant of £647,647 from the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation Scheme (FPMC) was awarded in early 2011 by the Scottish Government towards the new facility and speaking at yesterday’s official opening ceremony Chris Keenan, managing director of R and K Drysdale Ltd said: “Scottish Government assistance was fundamental to this development and we know that our growers are equally delighted with this vote of confidence in their quality Scottish produce.

“Additionally the new facility has allowed an upgrading of our site that puts us in a position to further develop our products and customer base.

“Our continued success is only possible due to our loyal, hard-working staff and we will continue to work closely with the locale as our business grows.”

Drysdales has developed from its origins as a farm-based enterprise to a nationwide processor of added-value, locally grown vegetables, making the most of the geographical and climatic advantages of south east Scotland.

They are a leader in changing sprouts from a bolt on with other brassica crops to a major category in its own right, and have been at the forefront in developing new products such as rinse and cook, prepared sprouts. They also introduced baby sprouts into the market.

They are the largest swede supplier in the UK and grow 1200 acres of the vegetables, supplying 18,000 tonnes a year to supermarkets. And again they were leaders in this field - being the first to wash and grade swede and to develop a self-propelled harvester. In 2010 they launched Easy Swede into Tesco and Co-operative stores, a pre-prepared, quality swede that is ready to eat in 10 minutes.

And it’s the same story with leeks which they started to grow in 2010 for the first time, aiming to sell 3000 tonnes within three years - and they are already the largest Scottish grower of leeks.