M&S visit our farms in morocco
The M&S team is out visiting our growers in Morocco, to look at blueberries with supplier Berry World, which is always their first produce trip of the year. The first day of the visit was to one of the best blueberry growers in the world, which is a farm called Africa Blue. Africa Blue grows the Costa variety of blueberry, which has an amazing flavour and grows really large!
The farm has a yield of 30 tonnes per hectare on average, and with 500 hectares on the farm, you can see that an enormous number of delicious blueberries come from this region. For the next three months the best blueberries in the world will be on the shelves at M&S, so go and get yourself a treat!!
M&S technologist Andy Mitchell says, " Morocco has always been a country of challenge for me. In the four years I have been going there I have seen great change in the north. From small growers who were not operating good ethical practice to what is now a vibrant area with plenty of work and workers being paid bonuses for the volumes they pick. This offers greater opportunities and support for personal development, including the ability to learn to read and write. The social and economic climate of this region is improving all the time thanks to the investment of our farmers and our continuous quest for improvement and excellence. This is the part of the world I feel most proud of for the impact we are making by doing things the right way."
On day two, M&S and our suppliers visited Atlantic Blue to look at the supply base for the Rocio and Corona varieties. Yet again vast improvements were seen regarding the size of the fruit and also the expansion of production. Our farmers have really done us proud - we asked for more volume and they have worked really hard to provide it, meaning that we can supply one variety from three countries over six months. The relationship between our farmers and M&S is absolutely critical, and that is why these visits are so important. The expansion is significant and sets us in a leading place in our supply to M&S for the next five years.
The next big change in Morocco is that we have identified and cultivated blackberries that are sweet! There has been a bit of a supply gap where Dutch berries finish before South African berries start. To be able to fill this gap, we have produced Elvira, a huge and sweet berry. The picture shows that the growth is prolific and the secret to making it work is to create a 'tunnel' from the plants. The berries then hang down, making them easy to pick. This approach allows for plenty of air flow and gives the best leaves the most light.