Puffin Produce growing up strong with new equipment and new jobs

Posted on 18 Apr 2013 by Tim Brown

Welsh vegetable processor and packing company, Puffin Produce, has significantly increased capacity at its Withybush plant near Haverfordwest after a £850,000 investment introduced two new state of the art packing lines.

Puffin Produce is three-quarters of the way into an £8.4m investment programme that has enhanced key areas of its operation.

“We have replaced two out of the three packing lines in the factory with state-of-the-art equipment. That has doubled throughput from 40 to 80 bags per minute per line.” said Managing Director of Puffin Produce, Huw Thomas. “We’ve also added more than 8,000 tonnes of highly efficient potato storage and expanded the vegetable operation,”

These and other improvements have enabled Puffin Produce to take on new customers. It now supplies Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Sainsbury’s stores throughout Wales.

As a result of this enhanced business performance, Puffin has created 25 new jobs within the company and a similar number in the farming community.

Almost half of the total investment funding came from the EU Rural Development Program, (Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme) the Welsh Assembly’s Food and Marketing Development Division (FMDD). The remainder of the funding is based on a mixture of asset finance and long-term loans. “We have worked closely with Barclays to fund a 51% share of the total spend, and manage our cashflow throughout,” said Huw Thomas.

Marc Blockwell, Relationship Director at Barclays added: “Barclays has developed a great working relationship with Puffin Produce to delivering a finance solution to help facilitate this exciting expansion and major investment program. The company is also one of many Welsh businesses to benefit from the Barclays “cashback” scheme whereby a cash injection was given back to the customer to re-invest into the business. Barclays is committed to using our industry expertise and specialists to support such propositions, which enable Welsh businesses like Puffin Produce to compete and win contracts with major brands, creating local jobs and delivering real benefits to the local economy.”

Future plans include enhancements to the despatch area. An anaerobic digestion facility is also planned, using ‘outgrade’ potatoes to provide on-site heat and electricity.

“We have very loyal Welsh consumers who give regional sourcing a strong foundation,” said Huw Thomas. “In return, they know where their potatoes are coming from. And reducing the food miles between field and fork is good for the environment too.”

Stephen Crabb MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire added: “I am delighted to see Puffin Produce going from strength to strength. The recent injection of funds by Barclays will ensure this popular local business can invest in the most modern equipment and enable them to create more job opportunities locally.”

“Puffin Produce has a strong brand that has really put Pembrokeshire on the map in recent years. This further goods news reflects a positive outlook for jobs and business growth in our County. I look forward to visiting Puffin in the next few weeks and seeing for myself the latest step in their business expansion programme.”