Support from The Food and Drink iNet is helping Derbyshire company AB Produce Ltd to save hundreds of pounds every week ….by cutting down on waste.

The firm, which prepares potatoes and other vegetables for retail, wholesale, processing and food service, wanted to make efficiency savings by reducing the amount of vegetables it lost during washing and preparation.

The iNet provided £3,160 worth of Innovation, Advice and Guidance support which allowed the company to call in experts from The Food and Drink Forum and Food Processing Faraday. They mapped the firm’s processes, devised more efficient ways of operating, and now AB Produce has cut the amount of wastage by about 50%.

“It’s probably saving us several hundred pounds a week, so it’s significant,” explained Martin McQuaide, operations director at AB Produce, based at Measham, near Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Now the company is hoping for further support from the Food and Drink iNet to improve yield efficiency. It plans to look at ways of reducing the amount of skin taken off potatoes during peeling, to boost its yields.

“The Food and Drink iNet support has been very useful,” said Martin. “Obviously we have made efficiency savings but it’s also enabled a forum for our own workers to come up with ideas themselves.”

AB Produce, which employs about 170 people at its 70,000 sq ft purpose-built factory on Westminster Industrial Estate, prepares and packs vegetables in a range of different packaging formats, and supplies to customers nationwide.

It received £3,160 worth of Innovation, Advice and Guidance support from the iNet, which it matched with its own investment.

“I am very pleased to hear that the Food and Drink iNet support has enabled AB Produce to achieve waste efficiencies in its production processes, saving the firm money,” said Paul Sheppard, Food and Drink iNet advisor for Derbyshire. “This illustrates the benefit that companies can gain by tapping into the expertise that’s available when it comes to operating processes.”

The iNet helps food and drink firms engage expertise from academia, research institutions and specialist business advice for innovation projects to develop new ideas, new products, new processes and to help companies grow. 50% of the equivalent cash value of the support must be contributed by the company.

Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. One of four regional iNets, it has developed an effective network to link academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.

The Food and Drink iNet also aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes. It is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.

For more information visit