Diversification in the British farming industry

POSTED: 24th September 2015
IN: Business news

Aldermore discusses how entering a brave new world is helping British farm businesses thrive.

It is estimated that around half of all UK farms currently use some form of diversified activity in their business, bringing in an average of £10,400 in additional revenue per farm.

Aside from the additional revenue, there are a variety of other benefits that farmers can enjoy from diversifying, such as greater stability and security of their business for the future. By undertaking differing strands to their business, farmers are at less at risk of detrimental financial impact if one of their revenue streams undergoes poor seasonal performance.

Farm owners may also consider further utilising existing resources to maximise their return on investment. These resources could include land, equipment, out buildings and other property, man power and specialist skill sets. Diversification can create a new, more efficient and profitable way to utilise these already existing assets.

How are British farms diversifying?

Diversification in the farming industry can vary hugely. For some farms, it is as simple as finding alternative markets for their existing livestock or produce, while others may and do go down a slightly more alternative route.

Last year, vegetable grower, Philip Maddocks, decided to take advantage of the recent health trend of juicing, by investing in a state-of-the-art juicing facility on his Shropshire arable farm.

“As British growers, we have a respect and understanding of the produce we grow, ensuring customers get the best quality product at all times” Philip commented, “and we have complete control over the whole process from fresh produce to bottle”.

Less than a year since launching, Philip’s company, B-Fresh, is already producing 3,000 bottles each week, which are being sold both online and in shops across the country.

David Fry lived on the shores of the Dart Estuary and was able to find an unusual diversification opportunity on his door step.

“Farmers are always being advised to diversify, and as we had no traditional buildings to convert into cottages we focused on the major asset on our doorstep – the river”, David commented.

After obtaining planning consent and with the help of a rural development grant, David was able to build a boating storage yard, as well as a track and slipway. The venture turned out to be a success, and David has plans to expand with a new building, adding:  “We’re growing at 34% a year and have exceeded £500,000 turnover now. With the new building I’m hoping to grow that closer to £1m in the future.”

Charles Hudson, a farmer from Worcestershire, had his diversification idea after seeing leftover confetti littering the road outside a church. From there came the idea for The Real Flower Petal Confetti Company, Charles’ new venture which sells biodegradable confetti, made out of petals.

This year, The Real Flower Petal Confetti Company had a turnover of more than £250,000, growing it’s biggest ever area of 10 hectares. Charles has an impressive list of customers, including Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, Jessica Ennis and Andy Hill, and Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles all using his product at their weddings.

Charles doesn’t believe this is the end of his diversification journey either, adding: “You’ve got to keep being imaginative, looking for added value, looking for new ideas. I always want to find new things – I’m excited by enterprise, innovation and ideas.”

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