Case Study – The BQP Model, A Great Success

Alison Johnson, of BQP first mooted the idea of developing an integrated supply chain to feed their organic pig herd at a “Considering Conversion” hosted by the Soil Association back in 2005.  After a couple of uncertain starts her ambition came to fruition in 2009.

A group of Organic Arable members came together to agree to supply approximately 2000 tonnes of organic wheat, barley and beans into the BOCM mill at Burston.  In 2010 this has more than doubled to between 4500 – 5000 tonnes with the group becoming the majority supplier of these organic products into Burston mill for BQP.

For BQP the aim is to localise their supply chain by having their organic cereals and pulses produced as locally to Burston mill as possible for two reasons.  Firstly, this is a significant reduction in the food miles of their pig feed which is what their customers wish to see and secondly they have full and complete traceability over their supplies knowing the farms on which the grain is produced.  This gives them the opportunity to influence crop variety for nutritional benefit.

From the producer’s perspective he or she is working to supply a known local market with a low haulage rate to an end user who is keen to work with them.  The majority of organic feed mills are located in the South West of England resulting in high haulage rates for producers particularly for crops other than wheat.  BQP are happy to be flexible in their rationing and not simply to take the crops which best suit the least cost ration formulation but to maximise the crops available from the organic rotation.

This group first came together in July 2009 to discuss the potential to supply BQP.  The most important decision made was that the group wished to work together and that the opportunity to supply BQP was a good one.  It was also agreed at that point that a pricing formula should be agreed that was not solely based upon the “market price” but was influenced by the producers’ cost of production and the retail value of organic pork products.  Whilst a coherent group was formed not everyone invited to the meeting wished to be involved but a group of 9 businesses was formed.
The hard work started in spring of 2010 as this formula was finalised.  The initial task was for the group of farmers to share information. A unique pricing formula has been produced which targets to reduce the volatility of prices both for the arable farmer, the producer and the end user, the retailer. A more stable market will help drive sales and increase the confidence of those in the organic supply chain to invest for the future.

Why is this project better?

  • It has been a collaborative project with the buyer and producers coming together to help achieve each other’s aims
  • The producers have been influential in developing the pricing model.  They have some control in the process and aren’t simply price takers
  • It is localising the supply chain
  • The buyer has an understanding that organic systems have limited output and is prepared to tailor their requirements to suit the production of an organic rotation