Producing and distributing food – guidance

Introduction to producer organisations for growers

Find out what a producer organisation (PO) is and the benefits of joining one.

A producer organisation (PO) is made up of growers who want to improve their position in the marketplace.

How a PO works

Although a PO is made up of individual grower members, the PO is a single enterprise, which is run democratically by all members.

Generally, grower members of a PO must market 100% of their crops through the PO, although there may be some exceptions allowed to this.

Crops covered

A list of the crops covered by the scheme is given in Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme Guidance. However, the list is not exhaustive so always check.

Association of Producer Organisations (APO)

An APO is an umbrella organisation that acts on behalf of two or more recognised POs. It must be a separate legal entity or a clearly defined part of a legal entity.

All recognition criteria for POs and APOs are covered in Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme Guidance.

Aims and benefits of a PO

Growers joining a PO should be able to:

  • achieve a better position in the marketplace
  • reduce their costs
  • increase the overall viability of all members and achieve a more sustainable balance in the supply chain

Setting up a PO

A PO must be officially recognised by the member state where the majority of the PO’s members are based, or where the majority of its produce will be for sale.

Recognition of a PO is based on the legislation of the member state where the PO will be based and the following European Commission regulations:

PO recognition criteria

A PO must have:

  • at least 5 individual grower members all of whom are separate legal entities
  • an annual turnover of €1 million marketable production; POs specifically recognised for mushrooms or nuts must have a minimum marketable production of €250,000
  • a democratic structure that gives members an equal say in the PO’s management and operation (giving one member, one vote)

Funding of PO programmes

A PO must set up an operational fund to finance its operational programmes.

Members of the PO or the PO itself finance the operational fund, which may qualify for EU financial assistance, under the EU Fruit and Vegetable Regime.

Acceptance criteria for EU funding

Operational programmes must run for between 3 to 5 years and must contain two or more environmental actions, or at least 10% of the expenditure should cover environmental actions.

The programme must also meet at least 2 of the objectives set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 1308/2013.

The PO must:

  • ensure that production is planned and adjusted to demand, particularly in terms of quality and quantity
  • focus on supplying to market the products produced by its members
  • optimise production costs and stabilise producer prices
  • boost the commercial value of products
  • promote its products, whether in a fresh or processed form
  • take environmental measures and use methods of production that respect the environment, including organic farming
  • crisis prevention and management

The PO must provide detailed documentary evidence that shows how members will benefit from the programme.

Other evidence required includes:

  • details of all costs involved
  • location of the investment
  • biological control techniques

Amount of funding for an PO

As a general rule, the EU financial assistance is limited to 50% of the total operational fund.

How to become a PO

Growers wishing to form a PO must be assessed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), if based in England or Wales, or the relevant Devolved Administration in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The RPA or relevant Devolved Administration will check that the PO meets the criteria for becoming a PO.

Contact RPA

PO Box 300
Sheffield
S95 1AA

Current POs in the UK

The POs currently active in the UK are listed below:

  • ABB Marketing
  • Anglian Pea Growers
  • Angus Growers
  • Asplins, The
  • Aylsham Growers
  • Berry Garden Growers
  • East of Scotland Growers
  • FarmFresh PO
  • Fen Peas
  • Fresh Growers
  • Fruit Growers Alliance
  • Fruition PO
  • G’s Growers
  • Green Pea Company, The
  • Greenshoots
  • Growco
  • Holbeach Marsh
  • Mid Kent Growers
  • Mockbeggar
  • Northway Mushrooms
  • Plantsman PO
  • Scottish Borders Produce
  • SGT (Society of Growers of Topfruit)
  • Snaith Salads
  • South Devon Organic Producers
  • South Eastern Produce
  • Speciality Produce
  • Stemgold Peas
  • Suffolk Produce
  • Swaythorpe Growers
  • Waveney Mushrooms
  • Westgrowers
  • Wye Fruit