Bird feed expansion in East Yorkshire driven by Covid uptake in care and ownership - petsitterbank

Bird feed expansion in East Yorkshire driven by Covid uptake in care and ownership

East Yorkshire bird food manufacturer Johnston & Jeff is flying high with an investment that will see it increase production by 60 per cent.

The company has installed a new blending plant at its Gilberdyke manufacturing site, as well as weighing equipment, in an investment totaling £384,000.

It builds on a £1 million factory expansion completed two years ago for one of the UK’s leading bird seed suppliers.

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Richard Johnston, the fourth generation managing director at the 142-year-old firm, said the investment had been driven by increasing demand for higher quality, more nutritious blends.

The coronavirus pandemic has played a role too, with 1.3 million UK households having acquired a bird in lockdown, as company was sought with more time to look after them.

“Feeding wild birds, and companion bird ownership, increased significantly during the pandemic,” he said. “This has been driven by a lot of factors. With many people either working from home or being furloughed, they had chance to reflect on what is important to them. Some it concluded is doing more to help nature and wildlife, others may have made the room and time for a pet they’ve always wanted. Some have done both.

“Whichever it is, it is wonderful to see all types of birds being so popular with the public again. They are beautiful creatures to watch and engage with, and new generations are just beginning to learn that.”

On the investment, supported with a £30,000 grant from Hull and East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Mr Johnson said: “The new blending plant will be used specifically for parrot and aviary blends to achieve better blending of ingredients that vary in size and shape, and to ensure a clean, thorough mix.

“This means we can dedicate our existing blending plant to making wild bird food, enabling us to increase running times and efficiency, while building on the product quality we’re renowned for.

“By adding in a second shift and some ancillary equipment, we will be able to realize an increase in production capacity of 60 per cent, helping us to grow market share in our core business areas.”

Steps are also being taken to increase product sustainability.

The business has introduced paper sacks for some of its most popular lines, and cardboard ‘eco-boxes’ for its dried mealworms, calciworms, and its special new bugs, grubs, and worms mix, significantly reducing the amount of plastic it uses as well as making its packaging more easily recyclable.

The LEP tapped into the Getting Building Fund programme, secured as part of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse backing.

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