Thursday, 29 November 2012

Menu Planner - Seasonal Update Winter 2012-2013

The team here at Westlands are always looking to keep our loyal customers and especially those chefs planning menus, informed about seasonal changes in our offering and how our crops are performing.

This blog has been created to confirm the products that have now left us for the period, those being introduced and information regarding supply of a few of the more tricky lines, as we come into the Winter period.  Hopefully it will help you to plan any last minute menus and avoid any disappointment!

Availabilities can change depending on both order patterns as well as changes in crop growing conditions.  The following information is our best forecast, and we will continue to update to ensure that we keep you informed.

In Summary:

Westlands Micro Leaf Collection:

  • Lemon Balm, Thyme and Tarragon - are now at the end of season, but will be available again in Spring 2013.
  • Purple Basil - is delisted for Winter, but available again in Spring 2013.
  • New for Winter 2012 is Purple/Red Radish.
  • Amaranth, Coriander, Green and Thai Basil - are generally good,  however these products do experience seasonal variations in growth patterns during the Winter months.  We will keep you updated of any short gaps that maybe seen in supply.


Westlands Inspired Collection:

  • Butterfly Sorrel - is now finished until May 2013.
  • Buckler Sorrel - is finished, but will reappear in Spring 2013.
  • Sorrel Flowers - are now out of season until June 2013.
  • Radish Flowers and Radish Tadpoles - are now finished.
  • Lemon Verbena - difficult supply period; however we may have some available on special request.  Please do ask.


Westlands Taste of the Sea Collection:

  • Sea Aster - is now finished until the new crop in Spring 2013.
  • Sea Beet - has started and we have good volumes.
  • Okahijiki - finished until the new crop in Spring 2013.
  • Sea Purslane and Ice Lettuce - this is a difficult supply period for both; however they may be available on special request.  Please do ask.
If you are unsure on availabilities of any Westlands products, please do ask your usual supplier or feel free to Tweet us @WestlandsWow.

We have also created a handy Menu Planner Guide for you to download and share with your teams.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Westlands Amaranth Update

We are delighted, but still cautious, about how well the Westlands Amaranth crop is developing, due to the extra work we detailed in our previous blog Westlands Seasonal Update - Amaranth.

This week we have seen the benches producing the crop at the size we expect, but in lower quantities.  Westlands have been able to send out small volumes to our supply base this week and we are expecting to do the same, in the same small quantities for most of next week.

How can our Customers help us?

Please only order what you actually need, as this means we only harvest what is needed and will ensure that we can keep up with your orders.  By not over ordering now, will mean more crop at the most important later stage of Christmas!

We are expecting the volumes to increase, steadily, over the next 10 days.  Thank you so much to all of our Customers who have born with us, thank you to those who shared and Tweeted our Seasonal Update.  Using the knowledge we have gained this year will allow us to improve the position for all of our customers next year.

Please be assured that we are working hard to ensure full supply of Westlands Amaranth for your important Christmas menu weeks, but, as ever in the wonderful world of Fresh Produce, we are not promising anything!

Many thanks on behalf of the whole team at WestlandsWow.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Westlands Seasonal Update - Amaranth

In our blog Westlands Inspired by Seasons, we spoke about the challenges that we, as growers, face in any one growing year.  Trying to predict how a crop will perform and react to the change in seasons is almost a science in itself.  What the team at Westlands are constantly trying to do is ensure a consistent quality crop for our discerning customers. 

The growing team at Westlands love to rise to a challenge and we are at the point in the year when the Amaranth crop typically slows in its growth cycle.  The exact timing of this varies from year-to-year but it does mean that the crop doesn't perform in the consistent way it has done over the summer months, after all it loves long hot sunny days!
  • Amaranth is bright red in colour, with a mild beet flavour, and is widely used to add a splash of electric red to the plate.
Amaranth Crop Issues

The following are typical issues facing any grower of Amaranth and we'd like to take the time to explain what our growing team are experiencing right now:
  • Amaranth experiences seasonal variations that present more issues between the months of November and January.  One of the most difficult time periods for the Amaranth crop is going into shorter, duller days in the Autumn.
  • The Amaranth crop is taking approximately 2 weeks longer to get to "harvestable height".
The two images below show the crop at the correct size versus the size we are getting now; there is about 2 week's growth difference, between what we were getting 3 weeks ago to now.
Amaranth Crop at Harvestable Size
Amaranth Crop as it is at the moment
Westlands Solutions

The following represents a combination of knowledge, experience and sheer determination by the Team at Westlands to use their best efforts to try and remedy this natural occurrence.

In order to try and prevent the slowdown in growth of Amaranth and to support our supplies to you the customer, the growing team at Westlands have risen to the challenge and this is what we are actively doing to get ahead on volumes:
  • Westlands have additional benches of Amaranth sown, more than any previous season.  Westlands are also supporting the growth process by trying new methods to get crop growing.  This is the first time we have done this, but is a direct result of us trying to learn by doing something different.
Additional Amaranth Germination in Westlands Glass House
  • Westlands have increased the sowing area for Amaranth by adding (doubling) additional bays.  This means we have more bays for growing Westlands Amaranth than we ever have in previous seasons.
Westlands Amaranth Increase Sowing Area
Like any new solution in fresh produce growing, particularly a naturally occurring seasonal one, it does take some time for the crop to respond.

The team at Westlands anticipate being up to better availabilities on our Amaranth crop within a fortnight.  Hopefully, if all goes well, we will be into full supply by December but we will keep you updated with regular posts on both our Facebook and Twitter (@WestlandsWow) pages.

Westlands Alternative Products

Thankfully, with the skill of not only the growing and operations team but the variety and depth of our ranges we grow, Westlands are able to recommend alternative products from our collections via our knowledgeable and experience technical and marketing team.

So, in the meantime, whilst we are experiencing a dip in yields and while we wait (patiently) for our new increased plantings of Westlands Amaranth to come on stream the following are some practical solutions for you, our customers:
  • Other "red" Westlands products from our Micro Leaf collection that can be used instead of or as a substitution for Amaranth are:
Westlands Red Mustard Leaf
Westlands Red Pak Choi
Westlands Red Radish Leaf
Westlands Red Vein Sorrel
These four "red" alternatives are available now from your distributors and are in good supplies.  You can access our Westlands Micro Leaf flyer in a PDF format from either our website or via this link Micro Leaf Collection.

The team at Westlands would like to thank you for your fresh produce understanding and patience whilst we await the arrival of Westlands Amaranth.