Fowler Welch plays host to top journalists

fruit production lineRecently, Nick Hay CEO of Fowler Welch  Hay and the team at their newly extended site in Teynham hosted a day of talks and tours to give food and logistics journalists a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of Fowler Welch and its recent developments.

The Teynham site was chosen as it offered the journalists exclusive access to ISS which is an innovative joint venture between Fowler Welch and DPS, therefore an ideal opportunity to talk them through the new range of services available.

The journalists invited were Kevin White, Fresh & Chilled Foods Editor at The Grocer, Nina Pullman, Deputy Editor of Fresh Produce Journal, Carly Wood, Editor of Food & Drinks Technology and Noli Dinkovski, Associate Editor at Food Manufacture.

The day started with Nick taking the group through Fowler Welch’s current status and plans for the future. With the recent Brexit vote still a hot topic potentially affecting UK imports and exports, the journalists had plenty of questions about Fowler Welch’s stance throughout the situation and how Brexit has affected, or could affect business.

The plans for Teynham were presented, with Nick explaining how the initial idea had come about through a conversation with fruit importer DPS who were looking for a solution to moving its fruit through several sites to be ripened, packed and distributed. From opening the joint facility in 2014 with one pallet, the site now deals with over eight million cases a year, with the new extension allowing capacity to reach 12 million cases.

Nick explained how the retail landscape has changed following the ‘death of the weekly shop’. Consumers now do smaller shops throughout the week, meaning the Fowler Welch team has to be much more agile and flexible in order to react to the demand that this creates. However, this change in the habits of shoppers actually means that the spread of produce going out each day is more even. Previously Thursday would be the day when the majority of chilled products would be distributed.

After the questions and answers session with Nick the journalist were taken on a site tour by Gavin Knight, Operations Director at ISS.  The journalists viewed the original building to see for themselves the services the Teynham site offers which included a look round the ripening rooms. Moving into the new extension, Gavin talked through the differences the extension has made to capacity and efficiency, he also highlighted some of the packing capabilities on offer including netting, wrapped plastic punnets, chestnuts for the festive season and his personal favourite – the ‘fresh ‘n’ go’
re-sealable kiwi pouches.

The tour also gave an exclusive look at the work-in-progress areas which included the new fruit-checking technology.  This will photograph each fruit as well as checking its ripeness to offer an innovative new picking system guaranteeing the best possible product for the customer.

Needless to say the journalists were very impressed with the efficiency and quality of work shown by the entire team and left with plenty of material for their magazines. So far The Grocer and Fresh Produce Journal have published stories about the Teynham extension and the current projects happening at Fowler Welch both online and in printed magazines.

Special thanks go to Mike, Gavin and their teams for arranging the day and allowing the media to see for themselves the work that goes on within Fowler Welch and ISS.