Growing champions in the next generation of fruit-pickers

A new induction video for fruit-pickers aims to help growers across the UK reduce labour costs and improve safety practices.

The video was commissioned by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) to increase productivity and reduce accidents at work.

It shows simple but important techniques and safety tips for soft fruit pickers.

The ‘Becoming a Champion’ video has been translated into seven languages – including Ukrainian, Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Russian as well as English – to meet the needs of the diverse horticultural workforce.

The video can be used by growers as part of an induction package and shared with staff as they begin working with crops.

Experienced grower and productivity expert Chris Rose said: “Research has shown that a 20% saving in labour costs becomes achievable by developing champion performers.

“One of the key building blocks in achieving that performance and increased level of productivity is to provide workers with access to a simple induction programme.

“The Champion Pickers video demonstrates exactly what best practice means when harvesting valuable crops including strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, empowering workers to collectively deliver superb results.

We need to care for our labour and our workforce in the same way as we do our crops; starting colleagues off in the business with a solid induction gives them the nutrients to support long-term commercial growth.”

Access to affordable and quality labour is currently a serious challenge for UK horticulture, so developing and retaining staff is essential.

AHDB Horticulture knowledge exchange manager Scott Raffle added: “Starting out in a new job can be daunting for fruit pickers who may not only be new to the business, but also a new resident in the country.

“Once growers have attracted staff, it is important to inspire them to stay and do their best while they work.

“When workers first enter the business, they generally want to do well to impress their boss and set the building blocks for a potential pay rise or a promotion in the future.

“When they have that motivation, the Becoming a Champion video provides clarity on what delivering fruit-picking-best practice means in real terms.”

The Becoming a Champion Fruit Picker video, which is an update to earlier versions only available as a DVD, is now available online here.