Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

Prioritising the good: nuts

By Tom Cannon

Roughway Farm, Plaxtol, Kent

Roughway Farm is a mixed crop farm well known for its Kentish cobnuts, an historic variety of hazelnut, as well as cherries and greengages.

The wider challenges for cobnuts are market size and mechanisation. More work is required to build market sustainability and educate the public about the value of adding cobnuts to their diet. In particular, the value of eating nuts fresh from shell. Product innovation and developing value-added products is a key area for attracting new customers. This leads to further challenges which centre around a lack of shared and common processing facilities in the UK. Many countries have buoyant hazelnut sectors, with nut products commanding a premium, in part due to the health benefits of nut consumption. Developing multiple contract cracking and processing facilities is essential for the sector so that various producers and businesses can benefit and innovate. Speaking more broadly about farm diversification, a centralisation of facilities for a common purpose is lacking in the UK. Innovation of value-added often comes from a new consumer brand that in turn protects its production facilities for its exclusive use, whereas farm-led approaches overseas tend to enable and facilitate multiple businesses.