Chambers bolsters partner grower network to strengthen year-round berry offering

October 2018: Chambers, one of the UK’s leading independent berry growers, announces a significant expansion of the grower network that enables the business to deliver a year-round field to fork berry offering to its customers – which includes listings in many of the major multiples.

The business currently home produces berries and stone fruit across 14 locations in the UK but outside of the domestic growing season, berries are sourced from collaborative growers around the world to ensure a seamless 52-week supply (Chambers supplies over 90% of own fruit production direct to the customer). This grower network has now risen to 17 countries, representing a 100% increase on the previous year and includes Mexico, Guatemala, South America, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Romania, Serbia, Poland, Ukraine and some of the newer regions that have witnessed investment such as Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Chambers specialises in raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, cherry and more recently blueberry production and has worked tirelessly over the last 4 years to identify overseas partner growers who share the company’s commitment to outstanding quality and innovation.

Commenting on the strengthened network of partner growers, Managing Director Tim Chambers said, “Chambers was first established in 1950 and has grown from a family business to become one of the largest independent cane growers in the UK, with a production area spanning 400 hectares (1000 acres) and propagating 1.5m plants per annum (for production in the UK and selected European sites). Whilst the business has expanded, our founding principles – which focus on quality, provenance, traceability and supplying the freshest berries direct from the farm – remain true. The extended network of growers means that we are well-placed to service the needs of the UK, as well as overseas market, with exports showing a 218% year on year increase. Our ability to ship out our product on the same day as it is picked (or in the case of product arriving from our partner growers, on the same day as arrival to the UK port) means that our produce enjoys a longer shelf life, represents lower food miles and fits with our customer’s desire to reduce their carbon footprint. Balance this with the fact that our lean supply chain means a reduction in costs and the Chambers proposition represents an attractive offer, especially since according to industry sources, berry sales have risen by 132% in the UK over the last 10 years and the category is predicted to be worth almost £2bn by 2020 (source: Kantar).”

Chambers’ earns top spot with award-winning raspberries at the National Fruit Show 2018

November 2018: Chambers, one of the UK’s leading independent berry growers celebrated success at this year’s National Fruit Show – which has been showcasing the best of British fruit for over 80 years – with its outstanding raspberry entries.

Competing against the UK’s best producers who literally represent the cream of the crop, Chambers won first and third prize for its Ovation and Grandeur entries respectively. Both varieties are grown by Chambers via the Plant Sciences Inc breeding programme.

Ovation, a primocane double-cropping raspberry (that provides a high yield over an extended season) has been grown by Chambers since 2016. It scored the maximum marks possible for size / uniformity of size; shape and freedom from disease and also scored highly for its eating quality and colour / uniformity of colour.

Grandeur – one of the first primocane raspberry varieties that heralded the new bench mark for the shelf-life expectations of a raspberry – has been grown by Chambers for seven years. The company’s entry scored highly for uniformity of colour, uniformity of size, eating quality and freedom from pest and disease.

Chambers signed up to an international Rubus Breeding Consortium Agreement in Autumn 2015, which sees existing genetic resources at East Malling Services – the commercial division of East Malling Research – being used to produce a new generation of improved ‘traditional’ raspberry varieties as well as a number of new varieties for the professional and amateur markets. Tim Chambers is Chairman of the Consortium.

Commenting on the wins, managing director Tim Chambers said, “As a business we have always strived to be at the forefront of innovation, trialling new varieties and supporting the latest breeding programmes to ensure that we offer our customers the very best quality fruit, not just in terms of superior taste and texture, but also in relation to presentation and shelf-life. As a specialist raspberry grower in the UK and abroad, we are of course delighted to have won two prestigious awards at this year’s National Fruit Show.”

Chambers expands management team to support company growth

November 2018: Chambers, one of the UK’s leading independent berry growers, announces a number of appointments in line with the company’s expansion plans for 2019.

Vicky Rye joins the company as Group Financial Director. Vicky was previously Financial Director at Capespan and is a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountant, with 16 years’ experience of the fresh produce industry. Vicky’s role will be to oversee the financial operations of Chambers Farms and Chambers Imports. Supported by a team of five, Vicky’s key remit is to provide timely and accurate financial information to the senior management board and to play a role in further shaping the growth of the Chambers business.

Andrée King has been appointed as Operations Manager, a brand-new role within Chambers. Andree previously ran a farm for 15 years which diversified to include a farm shop / children’s playcentre. Andrée has an HND in Agriculture and brings extensive Quality Assurance / industry compliance experience. Andrée will be pivotal in putting in place all the key operational requirements for an exciting new sub-brand that Chambers will be launching in early 2019.

George Beedell takes up the role of Commercial Manager, working alongside Commercial Director, James Miller. George is a graduate of Newcastle University (Agriculture and Business Management) and also successfully completed a two-year Management Development Service course designed to attract high calibre recruits with management potential into the fresh food, produce, horticulture and arable supply chain. He has previously worked for Dole and more recently, Capespan, the latter role as a Procurement Manager for Top Fruit. George will be responsible for generating new listings for Chambers and will oversee the day-to-day handling of specific key accounts.