23 August 2001
Spud Event hosts may move east

By Charles Abel

ONE of Lincolnshires foremost potato businesses and hosts of a major British Potato Council Event is considering moving its production to Eastern Europe.

Andrew, Michael and Patrick Chennells have found that poor UK prices are taking their toll on their 10,000t quality crisping enterprise at Clay Farm, near Lincoln.

Managing director Michael Chennells says that current government policy and market conditions mean growers have little chance of making a profit.

“The industry needs a profit to be sustainable and at the moment we do not seem to be getting that.”

Rising production costs over the years have led to an ever-decreasing margin and the brothers are now wondering whether relocating would boost profitability.

“We want to carry on farming in the UK, but not at any cost. If circumstances dictate we will go,” says Mr Chennells.

The family is already involved with a farming operation in central Europe, and the significant labour and overhead savings are just part of the attraction.

“If we have to, we will grow there, without the extra legislation and bureaucratic costs piled on to the UK producer, and export the crop back to the UK.”

The processing crop, which accounts for just a small part of the 1800ha (4500 acres-plus) farming business, is kept as cost efficient as possible.

They have built up a formidable reputation as crisping potato producers and have put significant investment into ensuring a quality crop.

“We want to produce to our customers specifications, but we dont want to be dictated to. We want to use our skills as producers to grow the crops they ask for.”

  • GH Chennells Farms will be hosting the harvesting demonstration at British Potato 2001 on 4-5 September at the Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire.
  • See here; for more details or look in FARMERS WEEKLY for the full event preview.

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