Let it grow: The real frozen success story

Established in 1954, Place UK have a solid reputation as one of Britain’s leading fruit growers, IQF suppliers and food processing plants. The company was founded by John Place, who supplied fresh fruit to the canning and jam-making industries. Two decades later, the business, begun as R & JM Place, was really transformed. The company installed a freezer tunnel to combat competitively priced fresh fruit imports from Eastern Europe; this gave the company a distinct advantage in that it was not bound by the seasonal cycle of British fruit – high quality homegrown produce could be frozen, and supplied throughout the year.

With 60 years of experience, Place UK is run by Tim Place and is now recognised as one of the UK’s leading growers and processors of high quality, soft fruits for major British supermarkets including M&S, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Lidl.

With Place UK’s unique and diverse offer, all areas of the retail, food service, processing and manufacturing industries benefit from their one-stop-shop approach.

Place supply Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) British and imported fruit to a wide variety of manufacturers and wholesalers, and has moved into IQF pasta, pulses and rice, as well as developing frozen fruit purees and fruit mixes for the ever-popular smoothie drinks.

Commercial manager Debbie Smith says, “Our clients are large and small manufacturers, food service suppliers and, indirectly, retailers. The sectors covered are desserts and bakery, frozen fruit and smoothie mixes, ready meals and soups. In terms of recent developments, we are able to make pellets for smoothie inclusions (e.g. coconut milk and passion fruit) and recently launched a new vegan smoothie mix for M&S which utilizes those pellets. We are keen to chat to any businesses that have specific needs or bespoke requirements. We’re always open to discussing ideas with customers and are constantly working on new ways of offering a wider range of products and services to buyers”.

The company is constantly coming up with new ideas and experimenting using different produce – they are launching 16 new lines into retail in 2019 – and whilst 90% of their business is domestic, they do export to France, Scandinavia, the Republic of Ireland, and Turkey.

Branching out into retail packing in 2013 has paid dividends; Place UK has an annual turnover of £30 million, which is on the increase. They employ around 100 full time staff along with 500 seasonal workers at their 480 hectare Norfolk farm.

With a new cold store recently built on site, and plans to install new equipment in their packing area this year, things are moving briskly along. Recent investment exceeds £1 million. Debbie says, “We have aspirations to continue our current growth phase into the next five years. Since 2010, our turnover has more than trebled, long may it continue!”


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