National Potato Industry Award Winners!
By Austen Dack
We are pleased to announce that Chippy Chat and Isle of Ely Produce both based in Ely Cambs won big at the recent National Potato Awards 2021.
The awards were presented recently at a celebratory dinner at the Old Swan, Harrogate on the first night of BP2021 (one of Europe’s largest farming shows)
It was a great opportunity for everyone in the industry to meet up and enjoy the company of like-minded people from the potato industry, and the mood was even more upbeat than at the 2019 launch event, after seeing so many live events cancelled because of Covid-19 repercussions over the past 18 months.
The award we won was the potato marketing award for our work linking fish and chip shop owners and growers, and was collected by myself (Austen Dack) & Oliver Boutwood.
Isle of Ely Produce in Ely Cambridgeshire supply potatoes to multiple outlets including markets, restaurants and takeaways through wholesalers and merchants. One of their main marketplaces is the fish and chip sector where they place over 2 million bags of potatoes annually. They are situated in the rich Fenland soil area and market some of the biggest chipping potato farmers in the UK.
We set up a platform linking the whole supply chain. Teaching the chip shop owners best practice and giving farmers an idea of what it takes to run a fish and chip shop. The campaign is called ‘From Field to Frier’. From there Isle of Ely (led by John and Oliver Boutwood) invested into sponsorship of the National Fish and Chip Awards. Never before had there been a National Fish and Chip Award leveled at chipping potato knowledge. Winners had to show care in storage conditions, variety choice, seasons, stacking and of course frying the ultimate chip.
They then purchased a fish and chip publication Chippy Chat which was to be published by myself. This again would give potatoes (merchants, farmers, seed producers etc) a massive voice at the sharp end. Recent features include promotion of a new variety with 12 of the best shops across the UK (on behalf of Agrico). Further work includes projects with Meijer Solana and HZPC.
As part of the Field to Frier platform, we also have an annual open day. It gives the farming industry a chance to meet over 100 chip shop owners, and indeed welcome them to their fields, sheds and equipment. Showing them the investment needed just to get a crop into their shops is an important part of this. The host farmer also presents on the day at Isle of Ely’s farm via a £6,000 AV stage set. With our help they supply and present a powerpoint presentation about their farm practice.
To this event we also attract seed houses, farmers, suppliers to chip shops and more. Chippy Chat allows Isle of Ely Produce to educate a whole sector with ongoing issues such as climate change, suppressants, prices and more. It has created a whole new marketing platform between farmers, growers and shop owners.We also launched the annual Great Ely Potato Race where farmers and local businesses join up for the world’s only potato carrying street race!
Isle of Ely Director Oliver Boutwood said: “We are proud of our work across the industry and will continue to promote best practice and develop this platform further. To win a National Potato Award in front of our industry is very satisfying.”
Guests on the Isle of Ely Produce table who helped us celebrate on the evening included Sarah Lee (Al Lee Farming company) Richard Lee (PJ Lee & Sons), & Caroline Murphy (Wetherby Whaler).