Ignition is representing Bamford-based commercial tomato grower, Sterling Suffolk, on an investment crowdfunding round in which it is hoping to attract local investors to support its innovative glasshouse technology which is cutting the environmental cost of growing tomatoes in the UK. It has partnered up with Abundance Investment, the UK’s leading ethical investment crowdfunding platform, to raise over £6 million to scale up its operations.
In the UK, we eat over 500,000 tonnes of fresh tomatoes each year, but only grow 20% of them here. We rely on imports all year round, and this imported fruit has a high environmental cost.
Sterling Suffolk is tackling this issue head on. Its highly efficient semi-closed glasshouses in Bamford, near Ipswich, are the first of their kind in the UK. They use 25% less energy per tonne of tomatoes than other conventional glasshouses, while capturing and reusing at least 75% of the CO2 generated from heating.
We founded Sterling Suffolk to use the latest technology to grow more sustainably the vast quantities of fruits that we consume in the UK. We passionately believe that our semi-closed glasshouse technology will have a significant part to play in how local and sustainable produce is grown in the UK, and we hope that local investors will join us on our journey.”
Richard Lewis, Managing Director, Sterling Suffolk
Sterling Suffolk was formed in 2014 to operate an advanced glasshouse supplying tomatoes for the UK market through a wholesaler to large retailers.
This is achieved by using advanced air exchange systems to precisely control the growing environment, with a highly efficient hydroponic growing system capable of using 100% recycled water. Beneficial insects and bacteria are used to control pests. The CO2 from the gas boiler is captured and used by the tomato plants for photosynthesis and also helps with pest control.
The business, advised by DUGUUD, is raising up to £6.75 million through Abundance to scale up its operation by building 2.8 hectares of new glasshouses, increasing its growing space by 50% to supply an additional 1,000 tonnes a year of tomatoes for the UK market.
The investment will earn an effective rate of return of 8% a year over the 11-year term via fully regulated, tradable bonds called Debentures and is eligible for inclusion in Abundance’s ISA and SIPP products. Minimum investment is just £5.
Finding scalable ways to cut the environmental cost of the foods we eat most often has to be a priority if we want to feed ourselves more sustainably in the transition to Net Zero. With its innovative eco-friendly production methods, Sterling Suffolk will help consumers buy British tomatoes knowing they are making the best choice they can for the environment too.”
Bruce Davis, Cofounder and Managing Director of Abundance Investment
The UK imports most of our tomatoes from gas-heated greenhouses in cool climates like the Netherlands or warmer climates further afield – such as Spain – which benefit from lower heating requirements but have other major environmental impacts, including transport and water usage.
Tomatoes picked abroad also need to ripen in transit and on shop shelves which directly affects nutritional content, flavour and wastage.
The investment can be held for its full 11-year term, or sold on to others via the Abundance Marketplace free of charge at any point during the term.
The Ignition Law team worked unsocial hours for us and were always there to answer last minute queries. It has been a pleasure working with them on this transaction”
David Scrivens, Finance Director Sterling Suffolk Ltd
For further information, please contact Helen Gerrard.
Risk Warning: As with any investment product there are risks. Part or all of your original invested capital may be at risk and any return on your investment depends on the success of the project invested in. You should be prepared to hold Abundance investments for their full term. Abundance investments may not be readily realisable (and their value can rise or fall). They may be secured or unsecured, and where they are secured this does not ensure repayment. Estimated rates of return can be variable and estimates are no guarantee of actual return. Specific risks will apply in relation to each product. Consider all risks before investing and read the Offer Document for each investment.