Identifying the need to improve quality to retain market share

Monday, 12th August 2019

Our market is continually changing. We are forever being squeezed on price and yet our costs continue to increase year on year. We are now just under 50 hectares, and have become a major supplier in the direct sales market. We are very aware that we need to improve quality to retain our market share. Competition is getting greater all the time.

We have identified the necessity to reduce waste (rose rejects) and refine all procedures in both the growing of the roses and the processing of them once harvested. We have reviewed and rewritten all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in both the field and the pack house.

We have carried out a two month trial in 2 hectares with a different modus operandi, having reviewed the time taken for all crop maintenance tasks. All ladies have had to be retrained and carefully worked out timetables have been put in place. The results have been very encouraging. We have timed all tasks again and with the new timetable, there is more time for crop maintenance. This is having a positive impact on plant and stem quality and it is reducing variability in production. Less peaks and troughs and a more even production pattern even throughout changes in weather.

There will be several knock on effects of reducing this variability. The two most important being less pressure in the pack houses and improved accuracy of forecasts for our buyers.

The next stage is to roll out the trial in to more greenhouses and ultimately across the farms. This is underway now.

Once the field is running smoothly, the operation of the pack houses will be reviewed. We have already introduced a few new systems to reduce damage caused to the roses through handling, but we know there is more work to be done.

There will be difficulties along the way. None of us particularly like change, hence the reason for implementing change slowly, in a couple of greenhouses at a time. All staff have to be properly supported and trained. This will be on going. We are excited and positive about our work.

To enable us to do this, we have employed Carla Ulyate who has over 20 years experience in post harvest and refining work procedures on farms. We knew we needed someone from the outside to come and assist us and identify areas of weakness.