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Harper Forum report: Clarke Willis, Anglia Farmers

Posted 23 February 2016

Clarke Willis, CEO Anglia Farmers

Clarke Willis, CEO Anglia Farmers

Report by student Tom Whittaker

Last Week we welcomed Clarke Willis, CEO of Anglia Farmers, who have sponsored the Harper Forum for a number of years.

Mr Willis’s talk ‘The role agricultural purchasing groups play for farmers’, was a good opportunity to learn about the difficulties farmers are facing currently and how being part of a buying group can help to overcome some of these challenges.

Clarke Willis was educated at Harper Adams and the London Business School, and held senior roles with numerous large companies, before becoming Group Chief Executive at Anglia Farmers in 2003.

The future of the input supply chain will see fewer active farmers, fewer suppliers, a tighter supply chain and more volatile markets. The main challenge that agricultural businesses face is the need to develop strategies and management practices to enable them to flourish in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace.

His talk identified that the UK accounts for a small amount of both the agrochemical and fertiliser market (just 1% and 2% of global market), demonstrating the importance of being part of a cooperative, as if you buy a larger quantity, you get a better price. Although British farmers are not well known for collaborating, it was interesting to see that 48 of the top 100 UK cooperatives are agricultural and have a combined turnover of £4.2 billion.

Anglia Farmers has evolved from a buying group to a fully integrated front and back office, buying everything from fuel to tyres to managing electricity meters, all of which is saving farmers’ money. AF is funded by an annual membership and service charge and only deal with inputs, aiming to be the best purchaser for Agri-Food business in the UK. 

AF has also begun co-operating with others, working with companies such as Waitrose and Tesco for their dedicated livestock supply chains.

After hearing the talk, it was obvious to me that more farmers should become part of a buying group in order to take advantage of the cost savings.

At the next forum on March 3, we will be welcoming Bob Stevenson, one of the most highly-respected pig experts in the country. He qualified in 1966 and is still a practising vet, he has also been President of the Pig Veterinary Society, and is Consultant to the British Pig Association and President of the Pedigree Welsh Pig Society.

We will also be selling raffle tickets for the chance to win tickets to the Royal Welsh Show and the Royal Highland Show, raising money for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

Starting at 7PM, it will be held in the Regional Food Academy and all staff and students are welcome!

 

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