“Established in 1986, Red Deer Herbs Ltd has concentrated on processing herbs and related crops to the highest quality standards for the UK food industry.” Red Deer Herbs 2015
Starting off our new year with a bang, our new chairwoman, Rachel Gilder, organised a trip for Upton Upon Severn Young Farmers to visit Red Deer Herbs. After getting sufficiently lost in the outskirts of Pershore, trying to find a postcode the SatNav was adamant did not exist, we arrived at the new factory. Standing proud in the middle of an industrial estate, the ora of the factories white lights illuminate the building, highlighting its detailed structure and vastness.
As we walked into the canteen area a group of 17 young farmers sat eager to explore unknown, behind the seemingly unassuming entrance doors to the factory floor. After waiting for the last member to arrive, who seemed to do the most scenic route to the destination as possible, we signed a health and safety form and were sectioned off into a very (very!) small room to dress up in clothing that resembled the uniform of a ‘Minion’ and a mad scientist. Some of the boys even had to wear blue beard snoods! In addition the the fetching white coats and blue elf shoes, we looked most attractive with bright yellow hair nets. We then all crowded round the knee operated sinks to learn how to correctly wash our hands, then we were ready to go.
Bob and Margaret Herbert led the tour while describing where their business had come from and how it now operates. To start the tour Bob and Marret decided to test how ‘hardy’ we all were by taking us into the cold store, which was essentially a giant fridge. From Basil to Lime Leaves, Red Deer Herbs distributes herbs to some of the biggest names in the food industry, including Pret a Manger, Costa and M&S. Infact Red Deer Herbs distributes up to 60 tonnes of Parsley every month! (That’s an awful lot of greens!) Bob and Margaret have built a reputation of the highest quality and service for their clients believing that ‘looking after the customer is your top priority’ as well as constantly adapting their products to ‘ensure the products are what the customer wants’.
Moving deeper through the factory we entered a large space which opened up into a washing area which removes bacteria and other unwanted matter from the fresh herbs through a series of shakers, rollers and baths. The firm has also designed and patented a machine that uses radical technology (no the science thing, not the description used by a dad trying to be cool!) to ensure the highest possible hygiene and quality standard.
The tour then took us to a viewing area where we could see through to ‘high care’. This area of the factory cannot be entered by visitors due to the controlled airflow of the area, where the herbs are prepared, chopped to specific requirements and packed. The large variety of customer specifications means that Red Deer Herbs have to be adaptable to ensure they stay ahead of their competitors. Once packed, the herbs are then labeled and sent through to distribution and dispatched direct to the client.
Looping back to the canteen area we then went head to head with each other in a mystery herb naming competition which resulted in two of the members coming joint first naming 11 out of the 15 mystery herbs correctly!
During our time at Red Deer Herbs we saw a couple that had not only built a business from a small 3 acre farm outside of Upton Upon Severn into an empire, but will not settle for their current accomplishments, continuing to push forwards, smashing boundaries and creating ground breaking technologies. The commitment of both Bob and Margaret, and their 66 staff, is inspiring and the quality of the product is a direct result of the time, effort and love put in from start to finish. During their move from the family farm to the new facility Red Deer did not loose a single member of staff, which is simply incredible and really shows what type of environment Bob and Margaret create as employers.
Just before we left, after being relatively quiet for a majority of the evening, Bob finished our time at Red Deer Herbs by telling all of the Young Farmers, that ‘everything is possible.’ After this evening, I think we all believe him too.
We would like to thank Red Deer Herbs and Bob and Margaret for giving up their Wednesday night to give us an incredible insight into not just Herbs but the food industry. We wish you the best in your future ventures and do hope that you get to work a little less that the 364 days you worked last year!