Reids of Caithness has made a £1m investment in a new production site, with plans to more than double staff numbers.The third-generation business, located in the Scottish Highlands, is set to move part of its ever-expanding production into a unit at Ormlie Industrial Estate in Thurso at the end of September.The company currently hires 40 members of staff at its Riverside Place headquarters, and it is set to employ a further 80 personnel at the new location. It will also be investing in new equipment to ensure the factory runs efficiently.Gary Reid, co-owner of Reids of Caithness, told British Baker: “In order for the snail to grow bigger, it has to shed its shell. We needed to look at an alternative location and found this site last year. We were so impressed with the premises, we could already see it being a bakery.“It has the capacity for 120 people and it already has good segregation for aspects such as a raw meat line facility. With new equipment and lines coming into the business, we’re looking to produce more efficiently and maximise on the space that we have got.”In addition, Reids of Caithness has started the production of its first line of freshly made pizza products at its existing premises. Using a stone-decked oven as part of a unit on the side of the existing bakery, the firm has created an Italian-inspired range freshly made and baked. It will be initially sold in Reids of Caithness’ retail units.The business is continuing to reach overseas markets, most recently designing a new tin biscuit product for China, in shortbread and sweet biscuit varieties. It is due to be launched in August this year. “Exports have taken off for us and we are doing well in China,” said Reid. “We’ve had lots of interest for many places, as we are close to doing a deal with Portugal, and the Japanese market is looking promising.”
When the flowering process starts, the blooms will be susceptible to late frosts. Temperatures 28 degrees and lower can cause serious damage to peach blossoms and greatly reduce the crop. “We have varieties with chilling requirements ranging from 400 hours up to 1,000 hours,” Taylor said. “We’re at about 900 hours at Fort Valley now. That probably takes care of 95 percent of our varieties.” Blueberries will still bloom when chill hours are low, Krewer said. But the blooming will be strung out over a longer time. That makes it even more vulnerable to late freezes and makes it harder to control insects like thrips and gall midges. “We like to see 750 hours or more for most varieties, and we’ve got that now,” Krewer said. “The ‘great chill’ put the low-chill varieties back into dormancy and satisfied the higher-chill varieties’ requirements. It was like a miracle. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.” One of Two Nervous Times The shivery days were a blessing to peach growers, too, said UGA horticulturist Kathryn Taylor. Getting enough chill hours allows peach trees to produce plenty of blossoms and, ultimately, a bountiful harvest of sweet Georgia peaches. Winter Just in Time For Morris and other growers, the hard winter came just in time. “Three weeks ago the situation looked grim,” said Gerard Krewer, a small fruits specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In south Georgia, where about 10 percent of the Georgia crop is grown, Brooks County has now had 670 chill hours. “That will take care of the latest varieties,” Taylor said. Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS Peach growers needed the cold weather badly, coming off a year with very few chill hours, which raised their production costs. “Last year we were way behind,” Taylor said. “We never got enough chill hours.” Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS Peaches Helped, Too “We had been behind in chill hours since mid-December,” Taylor said. “We’re still behind the 45-year average. But for most varieties, we have enough chill hours now to meet the minimum requirements.” Donnie Morris doesn’t describe the frigid weather of late January and early February the way many Georgians would. “I don’t know any other way to say it: it’s just wonderful,” Morris said. ‘It Was Like a Miracle’ “Now the buds are dormant and are just sitting there ‘counting’ heat units,” Taylor said. “When they get enough heat units, they’ll begin to swell and then start blooming.” Peaches are more demanding than blueberries when it comes to chill hours. Coming up just 100 hours short can cause a major crop failure in many varieties. “Before the ‘great chill,’ the weather had been so mild,” Krewer said. “The low-chill varieties of Southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberries were on the verge of an extremely early bloom. They would have been in great danger of freeze damage.” Growers would like to get the 100 hours or so the highest-chilling varieties need. “But even if we get no more chill hours,” Taylor said, “most of our growers will be happy campers.” Photo: Kathryn Taylor “The more compact blooming time you have when the chill hour requirements are met usually improves pollination, since more varieties are blooming at the same time,” he said. “Our growers will be holding their breath until mid-April looking at frost events,” Taylor said. Almost all of the state’s 4,400 acres of blueberries are in south Georgia. But from mid-January through the first week of February, though, the chill hours in the area mounted fast. Blueberries, peaches and other fruits need a certain number of chill hours, or hours below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, between Oct. 1 and Feb. 15. In the heart of blueberry country, Alma, Ga., had 790 chill hours as of Feb. 6. For Morris’ more than 200 acres of blueberries near Baxley, Ga., the almost constant cold was exactly what they needed. “We need about 700 chill hours,” he said, “and that’s about what we have now.” This winter’s cold weather has gotten growers past one of two nervous times in the peach growing season. The cold winter gives blueberry growers a brighter outlook for the $9 million Georgia crop. Georgia peach growers’ chances for a strong crop have been boosted by the winter chill. In a good year, the state’s peach crop brings farmers about $35 million.
The Korean Free Trade Commission (KFTC) has given Maersk Line the green light for the acquisition of German counterpart Hamburg Süd.However, following the review, the regulatory authority has imposed corrective measures which will have to be met in order for the deal to be closed.These include an order for the withdrawal of Hamburg Süd’s ships from the vessel-sharing agreement currently in place on the Far East-central America/Carribean Trade Route.Maersk Line said that it had agreed to the corrective measures as part of the ongoing dialogue with KFTC.“Maersk Line commits to withdraw Hamburg Süd from a vessel sharing agreement currently active on the Far East Asia – Central America/Caribbean trade route. On the Far East Asia – West Coast of South America trade route, Maersk Line commits to not extend Hamburg Süd’s membership of a currently active vessel sharing agreement. Hamburg Süd will remain active on the abovementioned trade routes in the future. The committed changes will become effective after closing of the acquisition,” Maersk Line said in a statement to World Maritime News.Danish container carrier added that the regulatory approval process remains on track and that it expects to close the transaction on November 30, 2017.The approval from Korea follows that issued by China earlier this month, and the deal remains to be officially cleared in one more jurisdiction.Similar concessions were agreed with the Chinese regulatory body, including Maersk Line’s commitment not to extend Hamburg Süd’s membership of a vessel sharing agreement currently active on the Far East Asia – West Coast of South America trade route, and a commitment to terminate Hamburg Süd’s membership of a VSA on the Far East Asia – East Coast of South America trade route on the earliest date permitted.Maersk Line further agreed within five years of closing, not to enter into vessel sharing agreements with its main competitors.Danish container giant said it would acquire Hamburg Süd for USD 4.3 billion on a cash and debt-free basis, which it plans to fully finance through an already secured syndicated loan facility.Once the acquisition is completed, Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd will have a total container capacity of around 3.9 million TEU and an 18.7% global capacity share. The combined fleet will consist of 743 container vessels.World Maritime News Staff