The New Forest Fruit Company is a soft fruit growing business specialising in strawberries, asparagus and other small soft fruit. We grow, pack and distribute all our fruit to the leading UK supermarkets. Because of our privileged growing location and with the use of modern growing systems including a range of varieties, we have a very long picking season from March until the end of November.
All our crops are grown under protection; glasshouses for the first and last months of the season and polytunnels for the main season. Crop protection provides much better continuity of supply and better working conditions for our staff during inclement weather. 100% of our strawberries are also grown on a ‘table top’ system so that they are picked without the backbreaking bending often traditionally associated with picking. We are never happy to rest on our laurels, we took the step of further embracing table top systems by introducing 1 hectare of the NGS system in early 2021, this system increases the number of plants per hectare without the need for increasing the size of the polytunnels. This is achieved through a rotational crop support system whereby the rows of plants are shifted from side by side to be above/below one another while a task is carried out and then returned to the original position.
Use of new technology is incredibly important in all that we do, first exemplified by moving away from soil grown strawberries to substrate grown in the very early stages of this evolution. Use of wet probe technology to monitor the substrate moisture and EC levels, to the use of temperature, humidity sensors in the field to open and close doors automatically. The list goes on, but we are continually looking to technology to improve quality going forward.
From the automatic blast/rapid chillers designed to remove field heat quickly, to the twin lane, high throughput packing lines with traffic light systems for punnet weight and, finally, modern, efficient coldstores, our packhouse ensures quality is maintained and the supermarket customer is delighted with their purchase.
Alongside the packing operation itself, we have made a significant investment in the form of transitioning to a quality management system which will mean an end to paper record keeping. Data will be captured more quickly and be even more accessible for reports, auditing and customer feedback. Good for the business and another little step towards reducing waste & our carbon footprint.