Perthshire potato grower invests £1m in 'intelligent' spud sorter to double throughput

A Perthshire farming business that serves up potatoes for UK and international clients has scooped a seven-figure investment to modernise its processes and double production rates.

Fimm Potatoes aims to capitalise on increasing demand during the Covid-19 lockdown with its new spud sorter.

Muthill-based Fimm Potatoes will use the £1 million funding facility from HSBC UK to purchase a “best-in-class” optical potato grader.

The multi-level, fully automatic spud sorter, which measures approximately 50 by 30 metres, includes innovative technology and “intelligent” controls which will help the producer to increase throughput by up to 100 per cent.

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Fimm, which produces table and seed potatoes for buyers across the UK, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, said the purchase will also free up time for its workforce, relieving its ten-strong team from repetitive manual labour and allowing them to focus on additional duties.

The company said this will help to develop technical skills and spur the business to continue to innovate and grow.

This comes after Abernethy-based potato supplier Branston last week announced a recruitment drive at its Perthshire factory, as the coronavirus lockdown pushes up demand for spuds.

Branston rolled out a range of temporary roles for positions including team leaders, machine operatives, forklift truck drivers and engineers.

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Fimm director Mike McDiarmid said: “We have a young and talented management team in Mitch Hayfield and James McDiarmid who are driving the business, continually looking at ways to improve efficiency on the farm. It is an important time for the sector and the new optical grader will modernise our equipment and help to safeguard the business.

“HSBC UK has a strong understanding of the agriculture landscape and they were very supportive of our short and long-term plans for growth and seeing the benefits our proposed developments will make to the business.”

John Robertson, agriculture director for East of Scotland at HSBC UK, added: “Fimm demonstrated a clear strategy for improving and growing its operations.

“We were delighted to help with the purchase of the new grader which will have a hugely positive impact on the business and its customers.”

The finance was allocated from HSBC UK’s national £14 billion SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) Fund, which aims to help businesses realise their ambitions for growth and navigate Brexit. HSBC has committed £650m of this to supporting SMEs in Scotland.

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