Rosie’s ‘leftover’ brainwave

Best idea of the year? I think Rosie wins that prize. We were thinking about what to do with some leftovers. At Yeo Valley we occasionally have a few extra boxes of fruit when a trial has not gone to plan or our packaging has not perfectly matched the fruit we have bought.

Then Rosie, who works in procurement, said: “We could make a yogurt with it and call it Left-Yeovers.” Well, it started as an idea for our April fool on Facebook, but we loved it. So hey presto, a few months later we had Left-Yeovers Strawberry and Fig on the shelf.

We added a 10p donation for every pot sold to FareShare, which is the charity that makes sure left-over food at supermarkets is donated to homeless hostels and other good causes.

Everything at Yeo Valley is about promoting a sustainable, caring and environmentally friendly way of life

Rosie’s brainwave means we no longer have surplus fruit and we can highlight the issue of food waste. By being creative, leftovers can take on a whole new lease of life. And customers love the idea too.

This is how we work at Yeo Valley. If you’ve got a good idea, then shout it out and we’ll talk about it. There’s no corporate hierarchy. We are still just a family-run farm in the village of Blagdon in Somerset.

It also shows how much we care about doing things in the best way we can. Everything at Yeo Valley is about promoting a sustainable, caring and environmentally friendly way of life. A lot of brands say that, but we have 40 years of proving it is possible to do business differently.

We only buy organic fruit. We support small British growers. If you can supply more than one tonne of fruit a year, we’d jump at the chance to buy from you. We met a farmer called Anthony Snell who farms blackcurrants on 450 acres in Herefordshire.

Anthony is a pioneer in fostering birdlife in harmony with the farm. An RSPB survey recorded 49 species on his land, including three types of raptor, tawny owl, little grebe and great spotted woodpecker. His approach to the land is inspiring, which is why he’s our main man for blackcurrants.

Our milk comes from the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative. Our own British Friesian cows contribute to the scheme. The herds are fed on pesticide-free and GM-free diets. The farmers get a good price. It’s the best way to produce milk and why we charge a few pence more for our dairy products.

We are always looking for new ways to improve the way we run Yeo Valley. Our head office is heated by miscanthus, known as elephant grass. It’s a totally sustainable and zero-carbon fuel, and we grow it on our farm. It’s surprisingly economical too, which is why it’s becoming the main source of biofuel in Europe. We’ve got solar PV panels on our cow shed. The cows inside are kept in small herds so that the herdsman or woman knows them personally. This way, if a cow seems out of sorts, we’ll know. That’s why we are proud to support other British family farms who farm in this way.

People sometimes say we’re a really modern company, with our organic approach. The thing is we think we’re the most old fashioned. This is how farming always was – how the Mead family and other farmers in Somerset always did it. People, animals and taste come ahead of “Q3 margin maximisation”.

We like being the sort of company where Rosie in procurement can dream up our new product line and where raptors thrive in our blackcurrant bushes. We wouldn’t do it any other way. And we think that when consumers know what’s behind our brand, they’ll back us too.

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