Pauleys was the first national fresh produce supplier in foodservice to be awarded Red Tractor certification and worked closely with the AFS to help develop the marque. The company continues to champion British produce and celebrate its growers.
Pauleys, the specialist fresh produce supplier under the umbrella of the Brakes Group, interacts with its suppliers, supports British farmers and, as a company is encouraging the move towards sustainable farming practice. It is not a new policy; in fact Pauleys was the first national fresh produce supplier in foodservice to be awarded Red Tractor certification and worked closely with the AFS to help develop it. Today, through Pauleys and Brakes, caterers can purchase a large range of Red Tractor accredited products including dairy, meat and produce. In 2009, 51 per cent of all Pauleys produce was of UK origin.
Steven Corras is technical manager at Pauleys where he has end-to-end responsibility on any technical aspect of Pauleys fresh produce covering safety, legality and quality of any product supplied to customers. He is passionate about the business he is in and says his colleagues feel the same: Our commitment doesnt stop within the four walls of Pauleys. We want to be involved outside the company: I am a member of the Produce Sector Board at Assured Produce (AP) and I have just been invited to sit on the technical advisory committee for SALSA (the Food Safety Certification Scheme for small to medium sized producers).
Both Corras and colleague Rachel Sewter, Pauleys Marketing Manager are emphatic about working closely with customers to manage their needs accordingly and put this into practice through Pauleys agricultural policy.
Steven will spend time explaining to new customers about traceability, and how it works via the code on the product label, which quickly and efficiently traces products both forward to the consumer and back to the supplier or source, says Sewter
Our aim is to make this clear from the beginning of our relationship, especially making them aware of what they will be given, adds Corras.
All suppliers are supplied with a GAP policy document which they have to adhere to strictly. It demands that products meet the highest standards of food safety and quality, are legally compliant, and are produced with due regard for the environment. The document also details Brakes Group and Pauleys requirements for control of microbial hazards and pesticide residues.
When it comes to sourcing product, 100 per cent is bought under contract. Our customers needs drive our sourcing and we only go to expert pre-approved growers to maintain quality and consistency in our fresh produce. For example, we wouldnt go to a Bramley apple grower and ask for potatoes. Our growers are experts which is why we use them.
Senior Purchasing Manager, Craig Buttress and Corras are both produce specialists. Having spent more than a decade working together, between them they have built up an impressive knowledge of fresh produce and forged relationships with the growers themselves. They know which growers to go to and have a good relationship with our suppliers because they know the business so well. On the
flip side, growers are happy to work for Pauleys, knowing its team understands the challenges involved in growing produce on a day-to-day basis, says Sewter.
However, another member of the team, Chris Congreve, who is Pauleys Supplier Auditor, is the one that spends much of his time with suppliers, visiting them on a daily basis to ensure Pauleys expectations are met. He makes sure the produce we are getting is up to our exacting standards. He also prepares crop reports which we then pass onto the customer, as well as pre- empting what is happening in the field and monitoring how the weather is affecting the crop, says Sewter. Congreve will also make sure the full crop is fully utilised if possible. If there is plenty of Class 1 carrots around then there will be some Class 2 for which he will try to find a home so there is no waste.
We also work with the grower to decide when to switch seasons. In fact we publish and distribute a yearly chart which is a good guide to seasonality and crop origins. However, we monitor the locale very closely. For instance, we may plan to switch seasons if, say, cauliflower heads are just not quite right because of the weather, but will be ready shortly. There is flexibility and we will choose the right time to harvest, says Corras.
Sewter says: I work very closely with the customer to provide marketing support. In the past few years we have seen an increase of interest in provenance and traceability and this plays a major part in our marketing strategy. Our Meet the Grower campaign allows us to run regular stories on our growers in our publications, Seasons magazine and Evergreen, which go out to our customer base. We have also introduced a Meet the Grower slot on Pauleys website which is proving very popular. It aims to show good agricultural practice in an interesting and engaging way.