CLIENT: CASTLETON FRUIT FARM
Castleton Fruit Farm is run and owned by father and son, Murray and Ross Mitchell. They run 620 acres of arable and fruit production near Laurencekirk, North East Scotland, in an area known as the Howe of the Mearns. Located between Dundee and Aberdeen, this award-winning family run business are part of Berry Gardens Growers group. Castleton are one of the most northerly berry growers supplying multiple retailers, in a season spanning May to October.
In order to drive the business forward and remain fully compliant with Berry Gardens’ global standards of auditing, quality control and traceability, the management team identified the need for easier access to the produce information it already held – albeit within their paper systems.
The team thought that there was a need for greater transparency, from farm to retailer, coupled with the idea of identifying and removing waste and unnecessary costs from their production process.
Castleton’s brief to us was to provide a quality control and traceability solution that would meet – and go beyond – the standards required by Berry Gardens. The system needed to be clean and simple without compromising the attention to detail that they already enjoyed with their legacy paper methods.
Castleton were keen to enjoy the benefits of Consus’ cloud-hosted solution while not incurring punitive user licence costs.
The berry industry, like any other element of the produce industry, has its own unique challenges. With berries you have a short shelf life and the quality of berries can change over hours whereas, with other crops, it may be days or weeks. Monitoring the quality of berries requires a system that is real time and is dedicated to monitoring all the different and fast-moving changes that can occur with fruit. You cannot just install a generic off the shelf, fits-all solution.
This is why at Consus Fresh Solutions, we have utilised our knowledge and experience of 35 years in the fresh produce industry to build a unique system that solves the fresh produce industry’s specific needs and requirements. Fresh produce entered into the Consus system is captured in great detail and efficiently.
Bar codes are used throughout the software and each movement of stock, from receipt to dispatch, is captured using hand-held rugged mobile devices. Quality Assurance and Positive Release data is captured on the move and is linked to the pick and dispatch process, ensuring that only the fresh produce that meets the highest standards, demanded by the supermarkets, are dispatched.
Castleton are using all elements of Consus’ system, including product specifications, label checks and shelf life monitoring models. Castleton also use our facility checks and auditing programme, so that they can monitor facilities such as cold stores and employee restroom facilities to ensure that their audit process is perfectly matched to the ever increasing protocols demanded by BRC and the retailers.
THE CONSUS BENEFIT
Having a fully integrated system that delivers real-time systems information at your fingertips is a vital tool for any business, not least the fresh produce industry.
Consus delivers a value for money system without passing on any cloud-hosting costs to our clients. Castleton Farms now enjoys the benefits of a fully-hosted Microsoft Azure solution without paying any user licences. We only licence Consus based on the amount of physical production lines, which come as ‘packs’ of lines from one line upwards. So Castleton Farms can now create as many users on the Consus system without having to worry about the cost of doing so.
Company owner and director Ross Mitchell commented:
“We are dedicated to ensuring that only the top quality fruit reaches our customers and as such we are constantly striving for improvement so that we can guarantee a consistent high quality. We recognised the need to improve on our paper system. Our paper system was fine and worked well, but it was very labour intensive and could not yield instant access to information.
“Consus was installed at the start of the season and has now virtually eliminated paper from our production environment. The system allows us to manage our stock real time and gives us the confidence that only the product of the highest quality will be loaded onto our vehicles thanks to the Consus RAG systems. Using the Consus traceability system means that in a couple of clicks we can easily track a pallet that was dispatched to a customer, back to its original source.”