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Andy Allen, asparagus supplier, Norfolk

Andy Allen’s asparagus, Portwood Asparagus, is sold throughout the UK from Scotland to the Channel Islands.

Asparagus supplier Andy Allen
Asparagus supplier Andy Allen

“It’s the flavour we’re known for,” says Andy.

“We grow it on medium loam soil over clay, so it grows slowly, meaning the flavour is more intense.” Through wholesalers, Andy has supplied asparagus to royal weddings, the BAFTAs, Queen’s tennis championship, Harrods and top London restaurants and hotels.

Andy began supplying local Morrisons stores after attending a Local Foodmakers event, starting with four stores, which has now grown to 15 across East Anglia.

He says: “Morrisons were incredibly proactive. I was impressed the retailer was keen to source direct and support local growers.

Produce managers were good at promoting the product by putting it at the front of store as well as in the vegetable aisle.

They listened to my comments and were proactive about them.” The increased number of stores and addition of selling online helped see sales of Portwood Asparagus increase by 76 per cent year on year.

About 130 seasonal pickers harvest his asparagus six days a week, with the picking season running from April until June 21.

From 101 hectares (250 acres), 250 tonnes of asparagus is produced, which is grown alongside 304ha (750 acres) of arable crops.

Asparagus takes three years to establish and, as a perennial crop, is in the ground for eight to 10 years.

Andy, who started growing asparagus on 1ha (2.5 acres) in 1987, says he would like to continue being part of the Local Foodmakers Programme going forward.

He says: “Morrisons pays me a fair price and pays on time. The retailer did what it said it would do.”

 

Farm facts

  • Norfolk asparagus grower W. Allen and Sons produces 250 tonnes/year
  • 304 hectares (750 acres) of arable, 101ha (250 acres) of asparagus
  • Started supplying four Morrisons stores in 2019, now supplies 15 stores in East Anglia
  • Sells into wholesale markets across UK and top venues and events
  • 130 seasonal pickers

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