International food and drink group Princes has completed the first phase of a planned £80m investment in its Long Sutton site in Lincolnshire with the opening of a new pea plant at the facility.
To mark the completion of the plant and the start of this year’s pea harvesting season, the plant was officially opened on Monday by Rob James, Factory General Manager and Marc Heading of Gerald Heading & Sons, which supplies peas to the site. As the longest-serving local farmer currently working with the facility, Marc’s family has been growing peas around Chatteris, Cambridgeshire for over 50 years.
The investment is Princes biggest ever capital investment. Long Sutton is the firm’s largest food production site in the UK, producing a range of canned products including peas, pulses, beans, bean meals, fruits and canned ready meals.
The site is one of the largest employers in the area, and its operations support hundreds of regional jobs in businesses and industries that provide raw materials and services.
“This is a hugely significant milestone in our £80m investment programme at Long Sutton, and we are very pleased to have delivered the new pea plant both ahead of schedule and in time for the start of the busy pea season in Lincolnshire,” said Andy Hargraves, Programme Director at Princes. “Our development programme is providing state of the art equipment, better energy efficiency and increased production at the site, and is a major part of our commitment to UK manufacturing and providing long-term, high quality employment opportunities in the area.”
“It’s an honour to be involved in the opening of this impressive new pea plant at Long Sutton,” said Marc Heading. “We have been growing peas in the local area for over 50 years since my grandfather ran the business, and we are very proud to continue our relationship with the site as it enters the next stage of its growth and development.”
The core investment project at Long Sutton is worth over £63m and is set to continue over a two year period, during which the factory will remain fully operational. The project will involve the refurbishment and development of significant aspects of the site including a new raw material warehouse and handling facility, new ingredients processing kitchen and a flexible production line for canned ready meals.
A further £17m is also being invested in capital projects over the same period, including a replacement hydrostat cooker, a soft water plant and new anaerobic digester, which processes waste into biodegradable material, and the implementation of a new IT system. This represents a total investment in the site of £80m over the next 18 months.
Princes also recently completed a £4m investment in new staff welfare facilities, a canteen and improved office spaces for employees at the site.