Growth in demand for plant-based drinks, now a £7.5bn market, has boosted the value of some alternatives to the wheat and barley crops that cover 65% of the UK croppable land area. Growers of these more unusual crops, from oats to onions to herbs, are coming together for the Agri-TechE webinar on Wednesday 17th June, titled ‘Novel and Alternative Crops – Improving the rotation and the bottom line’.
Speaker, Brin Hughes, of Bedford-based Richardson Milling, has seen demand for oats increase and is keen to help new growers avoid the pitfalls: “When looking at oat varieties, it’s a good idea to talk to your merchant to understand what the end user is looking for, rather than simply choosing the highest yielding variety.”
Herbs, legumes and novel crops
With unprecedented demand amongst consumers for plant-based products, such as pulses for alternative proteins, the market is seemingly poised for those farmers willing to make a change. And doing so can yield multiple benefits.
Soya, for example, is an excellent alternative source of protein. Bruce Knight, CEO of Legume Technology, will be discussing the soil-regenerating benefits this crop can bring to a rotation in the UK.
Meanwhile, herbs are important for flavour compounds but can also yield valuable biopharmaceuticals. David Bond, of Norfolk Mint Growers, is a strong proponent of crop diversity. He will be discussing mint, rosemary and coriander, and how to add value to a product by processing.
More exotic vegetables also offer potential. Edward Blanchard, of Three Musketeers LTD and Suffolk Produce, will be weighing up the successes his businesses have had with root vegetables, from sweet potatoes to onions and parsnips.
Rounding off the discussion, Dr Mike Salter, R&D Facilitator at AB Agri, will give an overview of food proteins and his thoughts on where they’ll come from in the future.
To give your thoughts and questions, click here to listen to the discussion at 3pm on Wednesday 17th June.