Sunday, 23 September 2018

 

Albert Bartlett, the UK’s leading supplier of fresh potatoes, is to launch chilled potato products with major UK retailers and food service customers.

Albert Bartlett plans to become the world leader in potato processing and the new plant will create up to 50 new jobs at the company headquarters in Airdrie when it opens this September.

Having already established a world-class operation focused on the preparation and distribution of fresh potato products, the company moved into the frozen potato market in 2015 with its plant in Norfolk and now has the opportunity to continue this diversification with a move into the chilled arena.

The potatoes are supplied by the company’s own dedicated group of 85 growers, which stretches from Land’s End to the north of Scotland and has been developed over the last 55 years. The grower group in Scotland makes up the bulk (80%) of the company supply.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government awarded Albert Bartlett a Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation grant of GBP4m. The award contributed to the total investment in the new factory and development kitchen, which will allow the company to introduce new chilled potato products.

Supported also by investment from HSBC, the move represents a major development for the potato producer, which processes a fifth of the fresh potatoes sold in the UK and has operations across the UK and internationally.

Mark Murray, managing director of Albert Bartlett’s added value business commented: “We are grateful for this grant from the Scottish Government, which is essential in allowing the company to diversify into the growing convenience and chilled potato market. Our development into this exciting new area will create 35 new jobs and safeguard 50 more here in Airdrie, in addition to providing security for our partners working in the entire supply chain, not least our dedicated group of potato growers.  When the plant is operational, it will process 50,000 tons of potatoes per year, around 90% of which will be grown in Scotland.”

Contracts with Supermarkets

Albert Bartlett has already won a three-year contract with one of the big four supermarkets – the name of which is still confidential - for its prepared range and the new Airdrie factory will have the capability of producing 35,000 tons, or 74 million 400g packs, for sale across the UK each year from September. This equates to approximately one third of the current total prepared market. In addition to buttery mash, the plant is likely to produce other dishes such as cheesy mash, root veg mash and Colcannon.

Ronnie Bartlett, chair of the company founded by his grandfather Albert in 1948, said: “Airdrie is at the heart of what we do, and when our new production facility starts operating in September we will be able to meet growing demand for convenient, prepared dishes and deliver a bit of magic for our customer. We are indebted to both The Scottish Government and HSBC for their support in this new venture, which takes us into the third phase of the ongoing development of Albert Bartlett.”

A new development kitchen at Airdrie was opened on the last day of May by Andrew Fairlie -  chef and Patron of Scotland’s only two Michelin starred restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel.   The kitchen will allow recipe testing and development for the whole business, not least for the new chilled facility.  Our photo shows Ronnie Bartlett, Sally Bee and Andrew Fairlie.

Andrew Fairlie said: “I have been a brand ambassador for Albert Bartlett for over 20 years and to witness the progression of the company over that time has been a fantastic journey for me. I am delighted with this new development kitchen, which marks stage three of the company’s growth. Having watched the groundwork being laid by Ronnie I know he doesn’t do things by half. If he didn’t think he could up the standard on chilled potato products he wouldn’t be doing it. This is really exciting news for retailers and for customers. I am sure that with its new range of chilled potato products Albert Bartlett will take the market by storm.”  

Albert Bartlett Bought the Plant from Heinz

The potato factory in Norfolk, which was under threat of closure by international food firm Heinz with the loss of about 200 jobs, was bought in 2015 by Albert Bartlett.

Heinz announced the closure in December 2014 after failing to find a buyer for the factory as a going concern. Airdrie-based Albert Bartlett confirmed it had bought the site and said it would release a statement later.

Heinz also said it had worked closely with local employment organizations and North Norfolk District Council to ensure the workforce had opportunities for further employment.

Related articles: 

Strong Growth for Frozen Food Division of Albert Bartlett Potatoes 

Albert Bartlett buys potato processing site in Norfolk 

Albert Bartlett Receives GBP4m Government Grant to Expand Capacity



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