Potato processor’s £25m improvements include farmer grants

Growers supplying potato processor McCain are being awarded grants by the firm to help them buy machinery and equipment ranging from irrigation to harvesters.

The grants are part of a £25m investment by the processor to help secure its supply, following a few very challenging seasons for all in the sector.

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Nigel Adams farms with his family near Wolverhampton and has been growing for McCain for 20 years. An irrigation grant from the firm is helping mitigate weather extremes and ensure consistent quality of raw material.

The processor is also looking for a three- to five-year commitment from growers, with prices based on an independently assessed cost-of-production model and a loyalty bonus.

The offer gives some security and allows costing to be worked back on the contract, said Mr Adams, who produces about 7,500t of potatoes a year for the processor on mainly rented ground. He has opted for a five-year commitment to supply the processor.  

McCain said about 40% of the £25m pot will be spent in the current year to help lower risk in its supply chain, which has had to cope with the effect of severe weather and Covid-19.

The firm buys about 15% of UK potato production. Its grant offering is open to all growers, but it will prioritise those who sign up to a three- to five-year supply, said Daniel Metheringham, director of agriculture at McCain GB and Ireland.