Suffolk tomato producer bought out after gas prices forced closure
4th April 2022
Sterling Suffolk, the county’s largest tomato producer, was forced to cease production last month, just three years after selling its first fruit, due to soaring gas prices.
Production at Sterling Suffolk is reportedly set to resume as soon as possible, once plants have been sourced, after finance company Amberside ALP took over operations at the site.
Sterling Suffolk operated a vast greenhouse stretching between the Suffolk villages of Bramford and Blakenham. The initial £10 million site covered 5.4ha and work on a £6m 2.7ha expansion began last summer.
Last month it was revealed that no plants had arrived and the company was not doing its usual recruitment for seasonal workers, as it had been forced to cease production due to gas prices, which began rising in autumn last year and worsened since the invasion of Ukraine.
Amberside ALP director David Scrivens told the East Anglian Daily Times that former staff from the site will be re-hired and former Sterling Suffolk managing director will return on a temporary basis to assist with the changeover.
The new management is looking for more sustainable and cost-effective energy solutions, EADT reports. Options include biomass boilers, or using excess CO2 gas produced from a nearby energy-from-waste facility to power the greenhouse.
New owners will initially focus on selling tomatoes for the local market before expanding to larger retailers and supermarkets.