The farm had been run by the Corrigall family in Dunning for over 80 years but ‘a challenging period’ has resulted in its closure

Perthshire-based grower Leadketty Farm has ceased berry production, citing a lack of support from the supermarkets and rising costs.

The business last week said it was “with deep sadness and heavy hearts” that it had made the “heartbreaking decision to stop production and cease growing our beautiful berries”.

“It has been a challenging period for us, as the cost of production is continuously increasing, resulting in a number of factors putting enormous pressure on our business,” said the Corrigall family, who have run the Dunning-based strawberry and raspberry farm for 80 years.

“As the supermarkets have failed to support us, offering low returns and a lack of support, this has made our business unsustainable,” it said.

British Berry Growers, the industry body responsible for the vast majority of the British berry sector, expressed sadness at its closure and warned Leadketty Farm would not be the last to close.

“We are seeing quite a number now of producers starting to stop producing strawberries. I am sure there will be others,” said Nick Marston, chairman of British Berry Growers.

“The reason is that there just isn’t a sustainable margin in production at the moment,” he added, pointing to significant rises in the living wage and other input costs that had not “been reflected in any significant increase in net returns to growers, which has resulted in many businesses becoming financially unstable”.

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Data published by Andersons Midland Farm Business Consulting for the BBG last year revealed that for strawberries the cost of production had increased by 18.1p per 400g pack since 2021. However, retail shelf prices had risen by 27p per pack over this period – an increase of 14.8%.

Marston said the current grim situation faced by many growers was “purely down to the retailers”. He warned that there were many businesses with poor profitability levels that would struggle to stay afloat. 

“At the end of the day, we were not oversupplied for strawberries last year, there was just about the right amount to meet demand,” explained Marston. “So the last thing in the world the supermarkets ought to want is to see a contraction in production, because their customers love strawberries and it’s one of the bestselling products in store in the summer.”

The Corrigall family thanked its staff, customers and friends for their support over the years.

The news comes as major apple grower Bardsley announced plans to do an “orderly wind down” of production in January, following several years of significant losses and amid similar concerns over low returns across the topfruit category.

Farmers across the country have also been warning of protests, as seen across the continent in recent weeks. Some 3,000 attended a meeting in Carmarthen in Wales last week amid a growing crisis across the sector – driven by plummeting profitability, soaring costs and increasingly onerous bureaucracy. 

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