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Mint and mustard growers will preserve historic supply lines to Colman's in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 19:50 04 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:50 04 January 2018

Mint harvesting at Kirby Bedon. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Mint harvesting at Kirby Bedon. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Amid the disappointment of the Colman's factory closure and job losses, there was positive news for farmers whose historic supply line of mustard and mint will be preserved by a new partnership.

Colman's mustard seed after harvest. PHOTO; Matthew UsherColman's mustard seed after harvest. PHOTO; Matthew Usher

When the Carrow Works site closes at the end of 2019, owners Unilever said the milling and packing of Colman’s mustard powder and the processing of mint for mint sauce will continue in the Norwich area, in a new state-of-the-art facility – jointly funded with the 22 growers who supply the key ingredients.

The “long term partnership” includes the 18 mustard growers in the Fens of west Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire who have been supplying seed to Colman’s since 1814, and the consortium of four mint growers who gather 800 tonnes of the herb a year from within a 30-mile radius of Norwich.

Farmers in the consortium said they were proud of their long-standing links with the brand, and keen to find a solution to see it continue.

Unilever said the new milling and packing facility – whose location is yet to be confirmed – will create 25 jobs, retain the commitment to sourcing mustard and mint locally, and “protect the historic link between Colman’s and Norwich”.

David Martin, chief executive of the growers’ consortium, said: “We welcome the proposals for a new long-term partnership between Unilever and mustard and mint growers in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. Our farms have been supplying Colman’s for generations and have helped make it what it is today. We hope that the proposed agreement will secure that relationship for generations to come.

“This partnership will allow us to jointly develop a new state-of-the-art facility near Norwich for mustard milling and mint processing. We expect that the facility will create around 25 jobs in the local area and will open up new possibilities for the future. It will provide a cornerstone for the development of the wider food and farming industry around Norwich.

“Subject to Unilever’s consultation with its employees, we intend to work closely with the company in the coming months to conclude the agreement and establish the new facility, helping to secure our partnership and a long term future for mustard milling and mint processing in Norwich.”

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