One of Birmingham’s largest food businesses is playing a fundamental role in improving the health and diets of nearly 700,000 school children across the Midlands, London and the Home Counties.
Minor, Weir & Willis (MWW), which employs more than 240 people at its dedicated packaging and distribution facility in Perry Barr, has been a key driving force in the Department of Health’s English School Fruit and Vegetable scheme that gives a piece of fruit each day to all four to six year-old children in LEA maintained primary schools.
The firm, which started in 1963, has been involved with the project since it was first rolled out in the West Midlands in April 2002
Since then MWW has delivered more than 150 million bags of fresh produce to nearly 10,000 classrooms across the country, using its industry experience to deliver a number of innovations to the programme.
The scheme initially featured 4 products each week, but during the duration of the contract this range has been extended to include rocha pears, tomatoes, organic carrots and prepared fruit.
MWW has also worked closely with domestic farmers to grow sugar snap peas in England for the first time.
Sant Mehta, Managing Director of MWW, was delighted at how the contract has developed:
“The English Schools Fruit and Vegetables Scheme has really grown in popularity and proven to be an excellent way of getting young children to eat more quality fruit and vegetables and begin to understand about the importance of a healthy diet.
“We have worked closely with the Government, schools and teachers to continually evolve the way we supply the fruit and regular school surveys demonstrate high levels of satisfaction with reliability of delivery, quality and variety of fruit.”
He continued: “I am also pleased that we have been able to add the MWW stamp to the contract. Using our network of suppliers in the UK and overseas, we have successfully added more variety.
“This not only introduces children to a greater variety of non-traditional fruit and vegetables, but also helps in the education process as they learn which countries they are grown in and the journey from the field to the classroom.”
Minor, Weir & Willis has grown into one of the UK’s leading handlers of fresh produce, sourcing over 100 products from more than 40 countries, including an ever-expanding network of domestic growers.
UK sales are more than £100m per annum and the company also boasts significant operating sites in Holland and Spain with a pan-European customer base.
The English Schools Fruit and Vegetables scheme contract is run from 3 sites in Birmingham, Peterborough and Chesham.
In the Midlands alone, MWW delivers to over 2,000 schools and more than 300,000 key stage one pupils.
“Our involvement in the English Schools Fruit and Vegetable scheme has also had a major spin off benefit to regional companies in our supply chain, boosting existing relationships with growers and, furthermore, helping to create new partnerships with farmers looking at alternative revenue streams,” continued Sant.
He concluded: “We are keen to work with the Department of Health and NHS Supply Chain on the future evolution of the initiative and believe our industry expertise and commitment to quality and fair supply will be essential in moving it forward.”
To celebrate its ten year involvement, Minor, Weir & Willis is planning a range of activities aimed at promoting healthy eating with children and recognising the strength of local and national produce growers.
This will start with the launch of a dedicated website (www.kidsfruit.org), which will give young children access to activities and educational games around the issue of healthy eating and fruit and vegetables.
For further information, please contact 0121 331 2704 or visit www.mww.co.uk