The 20th U40s Fruit Growers’ Conference will be held in Leipzig, Germany, at the beginning of February 2009.
The biennial event takes young UK growers out of their day-to-day environment and gives them a rare chance to attend seminars and visit growers in an overseas production region. It hopes to attract 150 delegates for its 20th outing.
Sarah Calcutt, new business development manager at Norman Collett, is chairman of the organisation committee. “Principally, the event is about developing contacts and friendships within the industry, and it is also an opportunity to travel and see business practices and technologies in another country,” she said. Also on the committee are: Karen Whiting of Berry Gardens, who is in charge of sponsorship; Ashley Wensak of Phoenix Trading, in charge of transport and logistics; JJ Clarke and Paul Day of JA Clarke & Sons; Paul Keuntenius of Berry Gardens; and James Deering of Clockhouse Farm.
Leipzig has been selected because it is the home of Raifhausen Agil, a huge vertically integrated co-operative for German growers, and Beckers Bester, one of Europe’s foremost juicing units, which counts Marks & Spencer and Innocent among its customers.
The themes of the conference are low carbon footprint, environment-friendly and low-input farming, and innovations in all three. Both Raifhausen and Beckers Bester are involved in their local communities with wide-ranging green initiatives. Raifhausen also has a very young board, which is appropriate; the youngest member is just 22. It has already put together a very interesting programme for delegates, involving its scientific, NPD and marketing teams.
The committee is in discussions with Bayer CropScience, a stalwart supporter of the event, which has trial sites in the Leipzig area. Other sponsors already discussing support are Omex, the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, Certis, Pro-Tech Marketing Ltd and Norman Collett Ltd.