Drysdale’s £1.6m plant sells sprouts to Brussels

AN EAST Lothian vegetable company supplying British supermarkets and exporting to Europe – including sprouts to Brussels – yesterday opened a new £1.6 million processing extension at its Cockburnspath, East Lothian, base.

R & K Drysdale claims the new sprout processing section will provide about 20 new jobs and could be worth £1 million annually to the local economy.

Richard Lochhead, Scottish rural affairs secretary, said when he carried out the official opening: “They are a good example of a Scottish company focused on customers’ needs – home and abroad – whilst providing a secure market for a large number of Scottish growers.”

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Drysdale has developed from a farm-based business to a company employing about 250 staff and a year-round national supplier of more than 28,000 tonnes of fresh Scottish vegetables to British supermarkets, plus exports to western Europe.

It is the largest supplier of shopping swedes in the UK, growing about 1,200 acres and supplying about 18,000 tonnes to supermarkets.

But it has also been innovative in changing sprouts from a bolt-on with other brassica crops to a major seller in their own right, helped by products such as “rinse and cook” and baby sprouts.

In the past three seasons the company has also become the largest leek grower in Scotland, aiming for 3,000 tonnes sold by next year.

As with swedes and sprouts, Drysdale control the crop from sowing to supermarket.

The company is also self-sufficient in water and waste water treatment, with an ultimate aim of making itself self sufficient in power.

The new facility to wash, peel and pack sprouts received a grant of £647, 647 from the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation Scheme.