Perthshire strawberry grower Leadketty Farm turned to Gray & Adams to ensure that local customers can enjoy the fruits of its labours to the full.
The Corrigall family, who have been stewards of the farm in Dunning for the past 80 years, have invested in a new blast chiller which they are using to keep strawberries in the best possible condition.
Capable of pulling down the temperature of freshly-picked fruit from 20ºC to less than 4ºC in just one hour, the heavily insulated machine was built to order at Gray & Adams’ production facility in Dunfermline.
It features a WW Cooling Solutions refrigeration system with a cooling capacity of 18kW, a floor-mounted evaporator with low TD (difference between air and evaporating temperatures) to limit product dehydration, and a self-contained compressor condensing unit. The chiller can accommodate two pallets and is robustly built to withstand impacts from fork-lifts during loading and unloading.
Best-known as the UK’s leading manufacturer of temperature-controlled transport solutions, Gray & Adams also offers an extensive range of static refrigerated equipment, including blast freezers, cold stores and game larders. All are designed to comply fully with UK food storage legislation.
Harold Corrigall and his son Stephen manage 16 hectares of strawberries in the beautiful Ochil Hills, and employ more than 100 pickers during the summer season, which is now drawing to a close. Their farm, which also grows raspberries, is part of the Red Tractor food assurance scheme.
An established supplier to several major supermarkets, Leadketty is a shareholder with two other farmers in a large blast chiller which can accommodate dozens of pallets. However, this is located 26 miles away, in Blairgowrie.
“That has posed a problem, as far as local customers are concerned,” explains Stephen Corrigall. “There was no point in taking all the way to Blairgowrie fruit that we’d be selling to wholesalers who supply Glasgow and the Central Belt, then bringing it back again the following day. Likewise, though, we were having quality issues with the product we were keeping here, for supply direct from the farm.”
Leadketty Farm produces up to 250 tonnes of fruit each year. Despite the fact that 90% goes to Blairgowrie for onward distribution nationwide, the 10% which is withheld nevertheless represents a substantial volume.
Mr Corrigall continues: “We have a refrigeration unit at Leadketty but that needs 24 hours to reach the required temperature, which is no good to customers who want their fruit to be as fresh as possible. Besides, the key to ensuring optimum product quality is to get the temperature down very rapidly.”
The Corrigalls realised the solution was a small blast chiller able to offer the cooling performance they needed. “We contacted Gray & Adams and were very impressed by the reponse. They went into great detail to ensure they fully understood our business and requirements, before designing and building a machine which is meeting those needs perfectly.”
He adds: “Our new chiller represents a substantial investment but we have not passed on any of the cost by increasing our prices. What’s most important to us is that we are now providing a superior product and have happier customers. For these reasons alone, it has been money very well spent.”