Farming News - Birds Eye embark on 8 week pea harvest

Birds Eye embark on 8 week pea harvest

17 Jul 2013
Frontdesk / Machinery


Pea Viners working 24 hours to bring in the cropThe Great British pea harvest is now officially underway with fieldsman working around the clock for the next eight weeks.  Thousands of garden peas and petits pois are due to be picked by leading pea producer Birds Eye as part of a military-style operation to ensure that the much loved veg goes from picked to frozen in less than two and a half hours.  

A national institution, Brits eat a staggering 150 million kilos of garden peas and petits pois every year. Last year, Birds Eye sold 233,724,881,710 peas – enough to fill 42 Olympic sized swimming pools. The UK is the largest producer of peas for freezing in Europe, growing around 35,000 hectares of vining peas each year – the equivalent of 70,000 football pitches.

This year's harvest is expected to see a return to better conditions following the devastating downpours that impacted harvest last summer.  It is estimated that the washout hit UK pea production by as much as 45 per cent.

Birds Eye Head of Agriculture, James Young says: "Harvest time is a really intense and exciting time for us and our co-operative of farmers; working around the clock to ensure that our peas go from picked to frozen in less than two and a half hours is certainly no easy feat.
"Pea vines are particularly susceptible to bad weather and we certainly suffered as a result of this last year. We're feeling more confident about the 2013 harvest, but there are still challenges to rise above so every minute over the coming months will be critical."

Ahead of harvest, dedicated Birds Eye fieldsmen walk the fields everyday caring and nurturing for the crop to ensure that the peas are only picked when they reach the point of perfection. Once a field is set for harvesting the team of farmers are ready at a moment's notice to begin work and where necessary toil throughout the night and day to ensure the peas are picked at their point of perfection.

In the weeks leading up to harvest, the peas undergo vigorous testing with daily samples sent for analysis in a hi-tech, quirkily named ‘Tenderometer'. This clever machine helps to calculate the exact point when a pea field is ready for harvesting by testing samples from the field and detecting the right texture to give that perfect pop. The peas are then analysed by a special crack team of experts who judge each of the samples for their colour, size and flavour to ensure that only the highest quality peas make the grade. Furthermore, Birds Eye grow exclusive select varieties of pea seeds that help towards that perfect taste.

After being picked, Birds Eye peas travel a short distance from the field to the factory and within just two and a half hours from being picked they undergo a unique fast-freeze process to freeze the peas to the perfect temperature to lock in a full flavour, vitamin C and other nutrients. Just one serving of freshly frozen garden peas and petits pois contains as much vitamin C as two large apples, more fibre than a slice of wholemeal bread and more vitamin B1 than a pint of whole milk.

Birds Eye Peas Senior Brand Manager, Matthew Blackmore says: "We know a thing or two about growing peas, after all we‘ve been growing them for over 65 years. The harvest season is a really exciting time for our team of fieldsmen who walk our pea fields every day making sure they are just right and to be certain, they even taste them every morning. If they aren't small, sweet and juicy they just don't make the cut. To keep them just so, we freeze our peas within only two and a half hours from the moment they're picked. We hope you can taste all this love, care and devotion in every mouthful"