The government Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, MP Mark Spencer, has visited Thanet Earth for a tour and to talk about the challenges faced by the industry.
The Minister met with Chris Butler the MD of Thanet Earth and Rob James, Technical Director. before being taken on an extensive tour of the site.
Thanet Earth generated its first crop of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers in 2009 and formed a partnership with Fareshare in 2013 to distribute surplus produce.
The business has grown, with six greenhouses on site and plans for a seventh. Its turnover exceeds £107million per year.
There is a workforce needed in excess of 800 people but the UK has been hit by shortages, partially due to Brexit.
The tour started with a visit to the packhouse so the Minister could see the investments made in automation. It was followed by visits with Pleun Van Malkenhorst, Growing Director for three glasshouses, to see the tomatoes, peppers and cucumber crops.
Chris Butler said: “It was important not only for us to show the Minister the work we are doing here at Thanet Earth, but also to have discussions about the challenges our industry is currently facing. These are in particular around managing energy costs, retaining a highly skilled seasonal workforce and future government support to help grow the sector.”
The Minister added: “I would like to thank Thanet Earth for the opportunity to visit their cutting-edge glasshouses and meet the people working hard to put food on our shelves.”
“Our domestic horticulture sector is crucial to the resilience of our food system and the wider economy which is why the government is working to support the sector through current challenges and help to seize the opportunities of innovation into the future.”
Thanet Earth produces around 30 million cucumbers, 24 million peppers and 400 million tomatoes per year.
Recent supply issues nationally of fresh fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers are said to be caused by climate change, the UK’s overreliance on imports during the winter, soaring energy costs and competitive pricing strategies at British supermarkets.