Speaker line-up for open Producer Organisation meeting

Roy Lyttle

Roy Lyttle

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The Ulster Farmers’ Union has responded positively to requests from the horticulture industry to widen understanding of the potential benefits of cooperation and working together between members of the supply chain.

Since an initial Producer Organisation (PO) Information Meeting held by UFU in 2013 the industry has grown and saw merit in these innovative structures. To facilitate understanding of PO’s the Ulster Farmers’ Union is now working in partnership with DARD to organise an Information Meeting for all fruit and vegetable growers, packers and processors.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 3, in the Lecture Theatre at CAFRE, Greenmount Campus, Antrim.

The event will begin at 6.30pm with food and registration. UFU Chief Executive, Wesley Aston will formally open the event at 7pm sharp. Chairman for the evening will be Professor Eric Long, Acting Head of Development Services, DARD. The event aims to provide attendees with an opportunity to find out more about the operation of Producer Organisations from industry experts.

POs operate widely throughout the EU helping grower members to improve their position in the marketplace, reduce production costs, increase viability of individual members and achieve more sustainable supply chains. Highly regarded speakers will discuss their experiences of the management and operation of POs and the benefits to their sectors of working within a PO structure.

Speakers include, Secretary General of the Dutch Producers Association (DPA), Ad Klassen, who will give a presentation on the operation of POs in the Netherlands. The DPA represents the interests of 12 POs and influences policy at national and European level. Some 85% of Dutch growers of fruit, vegetables and mushrooms are members of one of the DPA POs.

G’s Growers Co-operative will also be represented. G’s is an independent Producer Organisation comprising of more than 20 grower members in the UK and Spain. Ben Iles, Product Manager from G’s, is set to brief attendees on how a collaborative approach has helped to deliver considerable benefits for both growers and processors.

Elaine Shaw, CEO at Northway Mushrooms PO, is set to give a talk at the meeting. With over 15 years experience, Elaine will share some of Northway’s members successes as a result of the help, support, advice and marketing support from the PO detailing how growers have expanded as a result of working together. Her detailed knowledge of the mushroom industry will ensure attendees gain a real insight into how participation in a PO has benefitted producers and helped them overcome significant industry challenges.

Sacha Workman, who is an Advisory Group Member on the Belfast Food Network, will also speak at the event. She will advise the growers about an event “Feeding the City” scheduled to take place later this year in St. George’s Market.

UFU Vegetable Committee Chairman, Roy Lyttle said: “This open Producer Organisation Information Meeting should definitely be a date marked in your diary. With a fantastic line up of both local and international speakers it promises to be a highly informative evening. I would encourage all involved in the fruit and vegetable supply chain, including growers, packers and processers to come along and listen to the presentations, take part in the question and answer sessions and participate in breakout workshops.”