CASE STUDY: PURN HOUSE FARM
We welcome Purn House Farm to the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub
Purn House Farm, is on the northern reaches of the Somerset Levels nestled at the foot of Purn Hill, they specialise in the processing of fruit pomace. Processing a multitude of fruit pomaces through their specialised dryers and cleaners every year. They are proud to offer innovative solutions to fruit pressing waste. Their focus is on valorising previously wasted fruit pomace, maintaining it's essential place in the food chain and keeping it out of the waste bin.
A&R House (BCL) (trading name) buys and re-processes large quantities of food manufacturing ‘co-products’ and, having dried them, and removing the seed where necessary, micronizes them to create a fine flour, suitable for re-insertion into confectionery, chocolate and bakery items. This is used as a low-sugar, high-fibre alternative.
To create a simulation of various heat exchangers, and to design the flow and processes for a food -drying plant. The capture of waste heat is an opportunity to make this important proposed facility to reduce waste heat as far as possible. Any residual heat is proposed to be exported via a District Heating System under a local council initiative at a new housing estate.
The idea is a part of the design of a new plant - but one which they are not able to afford to do at this stage.
We recently caught up with Alistair House, Director at Purn House Farm to find out a little more about the business and their plans going forward:
I am an Incorporated Engineer, and first degree in Agricultural Technology (Cranfield Institute), and as a director of the above firm, I am responsible for the design of the new plant.
What were the reasons and purpose for setting up your business?
The business buys and reprocesses the fruit pomaces and recycles the wastes into human food ingredients. This followed a diversification from drying agricultural crops, and then it flourished when we landed a contract with the UK’s largest blackcurrant grower.
How did you start putting your idea into action?
The business formed in 2014, but grew since a collaboration with Nestlé, funded by InnovateUK, in response to the Public Health England drive for reduced sugars by 2020.
How did you let people and potential clients/customers know what you were doing and market your organisation?
We are trying to form a commercial deal with Nestlé and then we will roll out our other products with other major manufacturers (some of whom we already know, or supply, such as, Mondelez, L’Oréal, Unilever. We do also use a website, but as we are B2B, then connections are often made through meetings and seminars with groups such as FoodWasteNet, or University collaborations, of which we have several.
What are your long-term goals for Purn House Farm and the aims for the future?
We would like to grow our business into a larger organisation, in such a way that we can build resilience, spread overheads, and grow the team so that more training and development can be done in-house, providing stable organic, secure growth.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up their own sustainable business?
It needn’t be for sustainability’s’ sake, but sustainability and optimising resource use should be intrinsic in every project.
Don’t assume that something that you thought was waste, necessarily has no value - a great many people might already be using somebody else’s waste as a very useful material, for example, an arable farmer’s straw crop is very useful for bedding down dairy farmers cattle. This is not waste - in some years it can be worth more than the grain itself!
How do you hope the STBAH programme will help you to develop your business/strategy and what are you hoping to gain from the STBAH programme ?
We are quite certain that as our business develops and grows, it will need further skills, information and strategies, not all of which it currently possesses. Some of these improvements will be acquired by training, some by new staff, some with development of strategies and policies that are already in motion, but have not yet gained full- speed. It is hoped that a mixture of our requirements will be met by the STBAH scheme.
Would you recommend the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub Programme business support to others and why?
Yes, as it is not only the immediate benefits that you might be seeking, but deeper than that, there might be cross-over ideas that come out of meeting others with more experience, or more detailed knowledge, which you might encounter.
Find more out about Purn House Farm, visit their website by clicking the button below:
For further information about the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub and how to receive free support for your business or innovative low carbon idea visit the website here.