2. YOUNG PERSON OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by HENDERSON BROWN RECRUITMENT
Recognising outstanding performance by fresh produce industry professionals aged 30 or under.
1. Adam Lockwood (Lockwood Salads)
Starting his career as a tractor driver with no prior experience in horticulture, Adam Lockwood began working for LJ Betts while studying at university. He quickly worked his way up to assistant farm manager, helping to grow the business substantially over several years.
After developing a specialist interest in babyleaf salad, his next role as farm manager for Emmett Italia, establishing a new farm in a foreign country, gave him the courage to take the leap and set up his own farm business in 2018.
Lockwood Salads was founded and funded entirely on Adam’s own, at the tender age of just 29. Based on the Warwickshire/Leicestershire border, buildings are leased and land is rented within an established rotation.
The business produces 12 tonnes of baby spinach, red chard, bulls blood, rocket, cress and baby red lettuce each week, which is supplied to Lidl through JW European, and also packed into branded Lockwood Salads bags.
Built on ‘quality over quantity’, branded bags are sold to wholesalers, markets and caterers throughout the country, already proving exceptionally popular with demand struggling to be met.
Adam manages all aspects of the business, from practical growing and agronomy, to creating a packing facility and building a reputable brand, to finding and managing sales.
Adam deserves a huge amount of recognition for his determination, diligence and extremely hardworking attitude. He is an excellent role model for new entrants to the industry, proving the impossible can be done, and to a very high standard at that.
2. Gail Shrubsall (Berry Gardens)
We are nominating Gail Shrubsall as throughout her career at Berry Gardens she has demonstrated a comprehensive approach, understanding and appreciating the challenges growers face, whilst working closely with customers to ensure the best-quality soft and stone fruit available in store.
In her role as technical account manager, Gail is pivotal, ensuring Berry Gardens fruit meets the requirements of the major supermarkets – in the fast-changing climate that is produce Gail naturally takes a pragmatic approach to balance the needs of the customer and growers.
Gail enjoys the buzz of soft fruit – no two days are the same and she thrives on making measured, clear decisions within tight timescales. Due to her proactive, candid and professional approach Gail has earned the respect of her peers, customers and growers. As she works with the largest supermarket in the UK this means her decisions directly affect a large volume of fruit available in store – something she takes great pride in.
Over the last two years Gail has improved the quality offer from our grower base and customer complaints have reduced significantly; this is directly attributable to Gail’s focus on quality. Gail is also active in the wider grower community and a regular attendee of the Under 40s Group (recently rebranded as NextGen Fruit Group). In fact Gail was recently recognised by the group for her thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm!
3. Olly Watts (RB Organic)
Olly has been with the company for a year. In that time has made a huge contribution to the organic vegetable category. He launched the NEAT brand with two retailers this year and sales are growing strongly.
Olly has fit in well with the team and has brought new innovative ideas for new products and product improvements. He has built strong relationships with our customers and has added new thinking to the category management approach.
4. Vandita Agarwal (Fresh Food Co EU)
After completing her masters in digital marketing from Dublin Business School, Vandita Agarwal joined Fresh Food Co EU as social media manager. By using various new digital marketing techniques for the promotion of Fresh Food Co EU’s product lines, her strategy was able to drive demand through the fresh produce supply chain, as well as provide nutritional information about fruits and vegetables.
In order to help the new company establish credibility with its potential suppliers and customers, Vandita ensured that Fresh Food Co EU had a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter as well as regular posts and visuals aimed at generating interest from prospective clients and growers.
Vandita developed and implemented an automated email marketing system that allows sales and marketing teams to communicate and share market information on a daily basis.
By solely relying on digital marketing Vandita’s strategy increased engagement from prospective clients by helping them understand taste and influencing behaviour towards speciality food items.
To gain a clear understanding of customer demands and perceptions, Vandita implemented an analytics and reporting system that allowed sales and marketing teams to understand the interests of potential clients and servicing their demands.
Often described as agile and concise, Vandita ensures that company’s online presence receives regular updates.
Vandita seeks to further improve Fresh Food Co EU’s marketing efforts through the creation of an eCommerce platform based on a business-to-consumer marketing model. The platform is currently in its final development stages and nearing completion.