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A view of Shearway.

Shearway Foods have been in business for the last 23 years supplying a range of high quality fruit and vegetable products. Originally, there were just traders in such products but in 1979 they acquired their own storage and packing facilities at Smarden Road, Headcorn. This meant they could ensure even better quality for their products. Having accepted self-sufficiency as part of their strategy, it was even more necessary to make sure of quality and be efficient. Thus, in recent months Shearway have quadrupled the size of their storage facilities and have constructed a larger-production unit, as well as adding new technical laboratories and development facilities.

The company have good track record in sourcing supplies from around the world but the race is always on to find something new to tempt the palates of both the retail buyers and consumers.

Three years hack the company deliberately changed tack and set out to develop new products alongside the more-established ranges of frozen fruits and vegetables, to attract custom across the board from a wide range of retail operators. At present, about two thirds of their output is in vegetables and remainder in fruit. Of this some 80-percent is in retail sales and their Own Shearway brand represents some 22 percent of their total business.

To trade up it was necessary to create new products, improve old ones and change the packaging. Their new product range with its new corporate style began with raspberries and Summer fruit, and metallised film was chosen because it conveyed a quality image and bad the all-important eye-appeal. In rum, the company found a good market emerging in the catering field and therefore they can now pack in either 500g or 1 kg packs. In the vegetable sector they already bad a good mainstream business but the premium market seemed the most likely area for growth. So now, besides items like frozen sweetcorn, mushrooms and garden peas, they can offer asparagus in three sizes, mange tout, haby corn cobs and one of their latest products is Sugar Snap peas.

Another area of interest is that of vegetable mixes and here the company has introduced a savoury element by bringing out the stir-fry range. This, in turn, has led to products that are ethnic in both concept and origin. All in all, these developments led to sales growing by more than 20 percent in 1992.

Last month saw the completion of a |pounds~3m. investment plan that has included the provision of a 6500sq ft purpose-built packing factory, and amenities block, quality assurance laboratory and development kitchens. There are four packing lines in the factory and the combined annual capacity, in terms of froze n fruit and vegetables, in more than 16,000 tomes. Keeping up with or ahead of the latest regulations has entailed paying great attention to hygiene and safety. The walls comprise insulated panels with surfaces that are easily cleaned to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness and there is much use of stainless steel, both for fittings and the actual production equipment. Cold storage capacity is now 4000 tomes in 24,000cu m and this store is equipped with drive-in racking.

To allow for the maximum flexibility in future plant layout, the new amenities block comprises a modular structure that can be easily moved to accommodate any future factory extension.

In the factory itself on the day we went, one could see a Masterweigh vibratory weigher feeding raspberries via a Pacmatic unit into punners. From this point they are lidded, passed across a Best Inspection checkweigher, labelled by a Graham roll labeller, passed through a metal detector and then hand cartoned. The cold storage arrangements comprise an interesting layout. Raw frozen products are transferred to the first floor cold store before travelling through and down the factory to return to the racked ground floor cold store. Frozen vegetable mixes are made with the aid of BP mixer, not unlike a traditional dough-mixer. In the 'raw' material cold score, products can be stored in Octainers or Palletainers to suit. The actual mixes are fed via a hopper on to the sorting belt before descending to a volumetric filler. We also saw mange tout being passed across another inspection belt before being filled into fully printed packs via a multi-head weigher. Whilst vegetable mixes can be purchased, Shearway mix theirs at Headcorn and they pass through the system, across a Cox and Plant inspection belt to an Autopack multi-head weigher. Meyer Vi-tech conveyors were much in evidence and to provide product and date coding, a hot-foil coding unit is installed on the appropriate form fill seal unit. Again, a metal detector is part of the line. A Cintex MicrSearch unit and live Square checkweigher were to be seen in the Ii ne before the labelling station.

After packing, all product is transferred immediately to the lower cold store through the Markus doors before distribution.

With its new products, new factory and new development facilities, Shearway Foods is poised to reap the rewards of the marketplace.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Shearway Foods
Publication:Food Trade Review
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:838
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