Denaby Enterprise – Pre-Pack Potatoes Popular Innovation (pictures)

March 1957

South Yorkshire Times March 9, 1957

South Yorkshire Enterprise
Pre-Pack Potatoes a Popular Innovation

A firm started at Denaby in 1918 in a modest way, and now recognised as one of the largest wholesale fruit and vegetable dealers in Yorkshire have maintained their progressive policy by pre-packing dry clean potatoes, a line which is becoming increasingly popular with South Yorkshire housewives.

The firm is J and J H Peters Ltd, of Printing Office Street, Doncaster, who have branches at Denaby, Scunthorpe and Wisbech.

On Friday, a “South Yorkshire Times” reporter and photographer visited the firm’s nurseries at the Notts village of Mattersey, where the prepacking plant is situated.

£2000 Plant

A staff of nine man the modern machine which cost over £2000. The hundredweight bags of potatoes are fed onto a conveyor belt which takes the potatoes into the dry brush. This is a revolving circular drum with cocoa matting on the inside. In the centre of this are a series of brushes revolving in the opposite direction, so that the dirt is brushed off the potatoes.

From here, the potatoes are taken by another conveyor to a washer where revolving rubber spikes put an X “polish” on the potatoes. The potatoes then move on to the dressing table which slowly turns over so that the operator can pick out any suitable potatoes. They then pass on to the for automatic way heads when the potatoes are packed into transparent polythene bags.

A long another conveyor belt, the polythene bags are packed into three ply paper sacks which are loaded by an elevator on to waiting lorries ready for distribution to South Yorkshire shops.

Mr JH Peters, managing director, told me the main assets of prepack potatoes were that the housewife could buy clean potatoes (usually there is a certain amount of dirt on them and they are just tipped into a shopping bag) and she could be sure that all the weight was potato weight and not inclusive of some dirt, the fact that every potato was almost 100% quality, and the convenience and handedness of the pack.

2 million bags

the plant deals with some 16 tons of potatoes on a normal eight hour shift. When it first started in November it averaged 3000 bags a week, and at present the production is over 20,000 bags of potatoes weekly.

The firm had placed orders for some 2 million polythene bags of varying sizes to meet future demands. Because of the success of the venture, they have purchased a building in Mattersey village, and, on results this year, hope to extend the prepacking plant to this building, and eventually to develop a new site at the nurseries.

At the close of the main crop potatoes season, the firm will carry on with prepacking of new potatoes and machinery has been purchased for the prepacking of salads for the summer. They also prepack onions and apples and about prepack carrots at a later date.

The firm and 3 acres of heated glasshouses that Mattersley. In here I saw 70,000 lettuce plants, 10,000 tomato plants and 25,000 cauliflowers, all being grown for the South Yorkshire market.

The firm have gone a long way since Mr James Peters started in business at Denaby just across from Conisbrough station. Mr Peters was joined by his son, Mr JH Peters in 1935, and the firm now employs 106 people, are for subsidiary companies and 37 lorries.

Mr Peters, senior, is at present living in Cornwall, where he still maintains business contacts.