Export team deliver Eastern promise for York firm

A major Far East contract to supply frozen vegetables to global food giant Heinz in Japan is set to open more overseas markets for a North Yorkshire family business.

Frozen vegetables supplier, JE Hartley, Thorganby, near York, which is being advised by overseas trade specialist, Chamber International, is now working with international buyers at Heinz to secure more significant contracts with its overseas plants, including in South East Asia and the US.

The company’s contract with Heinz Japan is to provide frozen peas and mixed vegetables for products to be sold by retailers and used in the country’s food services sector including catering companies.

JE Hartley general manager, John Pick, says: “We are thrilled to win our first really large Far East contract with one of the world’s best-known food companies. We are hopeful that this will lead to additional arrangements with other Heinz overseas plants around the world and are excited about the future.

“We already supplied Heinz in the UK, and had a modest contract with the company in Italy, but this export contract is enabling us to step up investment in our factory, where we have spent £6m during the last five years. We are acquiring a new X-Ray machine which will enable us to achieve even higher levels of safety through more efficient screening and a new packaging machine which will increase our packaging options for clients, including longer-life zip seal bags.

“Chamber International has been very helpful, giving excellent advice and consistent support covering many different legal and regulatory aspects which were all new to us. They continue to be our first port of all for on going guidance as we seek to capitalise on this success.”

JE Hartley was founded in 1954 by Jack Hartley, whose son, William, is chairman and grandson, Tom, is managing director. The business, which has 60 staff and a £16m turnover, produces and sells a wide range of frozen vegetables including 9,000 tonnes of peas and 8,000 tonnes of root vegetables, such as carrots, swedes, potato, parsnips and sweet potatoes, annually.

The business, which has its own farm in Yorkshire and sources from 30 others in the UK as well as though 20 supplies across mainland Europe, produces and sells between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes of frozen vegetables every year.

JE Hartley’s other customers include further food processors such as Baxters, Weight Watchers and Covent Garden Soup Co. JE Hartley has a rigorous hygiene regime and aims to produce the safest frozen vegetables in the world. A large proportion of its products are used in baby foods. The company has some small overseas export contracts within the EU.

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, says: “Being able to win a major contract in the Far East due to the quality of an existing relationship is exactly the sort of acumen that British companies will require when Britain leaves the EU and aims to fulfil the Government’s pledge to become a true global trading nation. We are pleased to be supporting JE Hartley as it seeks to open more export opportunities in the same way.”

Chamber International helps hundreds of new and experienced exporters with a wide range of specialist services to make exporting easier and more cost effective each year and is exclusively partnered with London headquartered global testing organisation, Intertek, to assist with a wide range of issues including product conformity.