Branston Gets Ready For Mashing

Published online: Jun 02, 2024 Articles
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Branston has announced it is opening a mashed potato facility to produce and supply leading UK supermarkets with the prepared family favourite.

A new venture for the company, which currently handles 350,000 tonnes of potatoes for fresh and prepared products, the mashed potato facility will expand Branston’s capabilities and enhance its long-term sustainability. It is due to be operational by spring 2024 and will be led by Wayne Mansfield, mash production manager.

He said, “We’ve seen demand for prepared potatoes growing over the years and mash was one product that we weren’t able to produce in-house. It needs highly specialised equipment to produce the quality and consistency as well as the right potatoes. With our potato expertise and access to the best varieties it was a natural decision for Branston to invest in a mash facility.

“We got the go-ahead last October, and after much planning and investigation into sourcing the best possible kit, construction began in March this year. We’re aiming for commissioning in December, ready for technical validation of the product range early in 2024. The build is well under way, and we’re installing state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the process is as efficient as possible, transforming fresh potatoes into chilled mash in under two hours.

“I’ve been in the food industry for 25 years and leading this project for Branston is a fantastic opportunity, to see it from build right through to production. We’ve carefully sourced machinery for the latest innovations available creating a highly automated yet flexible process, all of which supports full crop utilisation and efficiency.”

There will be two main lines in the factory producing 14 different products, ranging from standard ready to eat mash to artisan root vegetable recipes and topped jacket potatoes. With steam peeling and cooking along with a 2km spiral chiller, the facility is expected to output 23 million packs of mashed potato in the first year alone.

Jim Windle, Group Managing Director of Branston, said, “This new facility has been in our plans for some time and now we’re just a matter of months away from starting to produce samples – it is fantastic to see it approach fruition.

“Previously, we sent peeled potatoes away to a third-party facility to be mashed, however, to improve efficiency and sustainability, it made sense to develop a solution in-house where we know we can get the best out of every potato and use the right varieties for the right products. This will not only improve the consumer product, but also make the supply chain more sustainable. We are also very excited to be bringing 90 incremental new job opportunities to Branston and the surrounding Lincoln area. These roles will be specialised due to the technical nature of the production line and will include engineers, machine technicians, line operatives, section managers and a host of other positions.”