With a new decade of challenges and opportunities ahead, the 30th Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association (CUPGRA) conference at Robinson College focused on building business resilience.
Small, family-run businesses are best placed to make the biggest mark on a changing climate, but they must start now.
This was according to Angus Davison, founder of global berry growers and importers Haygrove.
He told the conference: “There are 5.9 million private businesses in the UK who employ 60 per cent of working people. Family-owned, private businesses are the only ones who can make quick decisions, and they are often incentivised by multi-generations.”
Mr Davison proposed that businesses start taking a more holistic approach in measuring performance, accounting social, environmental and financial success, including carbon, water, waste and energy.
He said: “Of course we have got to make money, but is it a good year if you make money, but do not do well in carbon or people [management]? Which businesses will the best and brightest staff want to work for? What would the world be like if every business adopted triple bottom line accounting? I cannot see any other body which can move fast enough to solve the problem than private business.”
Mr Davison, who started Haygrove as a small field of strawberries in 1987 and has grown it to an operation with 500 hectares of berries around the world, added that his business in particular makes for an interesting case study.
“Our business is not perfect; it has got holes, but we are totally committed to change. We fly 2,500 tonnes [of berries] out of South Africa. We are investing in forestry in Uruguay and better control of Amazon burning through UN offset programmes. However, we are creating huge employment in South Africa which I do not want to stop because there is 27 per cent unemployment there.”