Tomatoes see the light as tech investment aids year-round growth

Thousands more home-grown tomatoes will be produced for UK consumers this winter after a huge investment in Flavourfresh Salads’ glasshouses.

East Yorkshire horticultural facilities specialist CambridgeHOK has installed an 8,000 sq m lighting facility for the Southport fresh produce operation.

It means customer orders can be met out of the natural growing season.

The eight week project at the Melrow site has seen a Philips system installed that automatically activates when the natural light required falls below the set level.

Flavourfresh launched in 1997 and is a privately-owned multi-award winning commercial business.

It specialises in growing tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, operating across four sites under more than 17 hectares of glass.

(Image: SCU)

Tim Haworth, commercial manager at CambridgeHOK, said: “We have been delighted to work with Flavourfresh on this project, given it is one of the leading British commercial growers and is a company completely dedicated to growing the highest quality produce.

“It is a business which is dedicated to continuously developing its growing systems and technologies and this sophisticated LED lighting system, which has around 1,000 LED lights in total, will deliver significant benefits.

“It is a sophisticated system which ensures the lights kick into action whenever they are needed, such as on a particularly gloomy day with limited sunlight.

“Most importantly, it will allow this particular site to become a year-round tomato growing facility, as tomato production had previously had to stop at this site during the winter months.

“This investment means they can now continue supplying their client, a leading UK retailer, between November and February with the highest quality, home-grown produce, rather than having to source it from overseas, with the current growing crop expected to be in the shops for Christmas.

“As we are a Philips horti-partner for LED lights, we have worked closely with Philips on many installations in glasshouses and as a result can now offer and ultra-efficient service, completing this project within eight weeks to ensure it was up and running on time for the customer, even in these challenging times.”

Tim Haworth, commercial manager at CambridgeHOK, with the completed project for Flavourfresh.
Tim Haworth, commercial manager at CambridgeHOK, with the completed project for Flavourfresh.

The project saw the Newport-headquartered team complete an upgrade of the electrical transformer, ahead of connecting the system to the onsite combined heat and power system, ensuring the most efficient energy performance.

Charmay Prout, managing director, said: “We chose CambridgeHOK as a partner to deliver our latest LED lighting project based on their technical expertise and their ability to deliver the project to the standard we required.

“From start to finish they maintained a flexible, ‘can-do’ approach completing the installation

successfully within our given timeframe. The level of support and professionalism was extremely credible and we are now looking forward to seeing the results in yield and quality from using the latest in LED technology.”

CambridgeHOK is also behind a huge expansion of Sir James Dyson’s tech-led farming operations in Lincolnshire.

Business Live – North West