Stephen Taylor and wife Jackie have owned and run Winterwood Farms since 1978 and now son Terry manages all the day to day business at the Company’s main site at Winterwood Farm, Maidstone, Kent. From small beginnings of 1ha, the company now has 17 farms in 4 countries (South Africa, Poland, France and UK), and has traditionally specialised in the niche markets of ‘minor’ berries e.g. Gooseberries as well as soft fruits such as currants. The Company only deals with soft fruit, deciding to specialize in one are to focus expertise in one place. At one time Blueberries was categorised as a minor berry but now it is the biggest fruit handled and grown. The company was one of the first to grow raspberries and blackberries in polytunnels, starting in 1978. The company employs around 300 people at its Winterwood Farm site and relies on its dedicated staff for its continued expansion. The integration of all aspects of the business allows staff to move seamlessly between field and packhouse, permitting instant response by the packhouse to changed or late orders. Also, the farm is able to respond quickly to weather changes or fluctuations in the order levels of the various fruits being harvested.
The Winterwood packhouse is the largest dedicated soft fruit packhouse in the world, packing around 60m packs of soft fruit in 2017 (over 20,000 tonnes). It is the largest supplier of soft fruit to the UK supermarkets from one site and serves customers such as Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Co-op.
Winterwood sources fruit from worldwide growers across many countries, enabling the continuity of supply required of an AYR business, both for its customers and also its employees. Winterwood is a key member of a UK Producer Organisation (PO) called ‘The Farm Fresh PO Ltd’ and the packhouse also packs the fruit from the farms of other PO members such as Polana and Hayle Farm. The PO has a turnover of over £100m and includes the largest Strawberry grower and the largest Raspberry grower and the largest Blueberry grower in the UK, as well as previous ‘Grower Of The Year’ winners.
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