As a 6th generation farmer, Stephen has built the British Quinoa Company on the family farm that his grandparents started farming on, over 80 years ago. It took many field experiments to teach us how to successfully establish a crop, control weeds and harvest a high-quality product but with perseverance, we can now call ourselves Britain’s quinoa experts.
Back in 2006, Stephen read an article about the fantastic nutritional properties of quinoa and it got him thinking – wouldn’t it be great if we could produce British grown quinoa on the family farm? And so, the experiment began!
We conducted several (sadly unsuccessful) trials before our breakthrough came. In the initial trials, the seeds failed to germinate and couldn’t reach maturity in the cool UK climate. We tested other quinoa varieties and found the plants grew well, but the quality of the harvested seed was not suitable for consumption.
Our breakthrough came when we trialled some new quinoa varieties that had been bred for our European climate. The new varieties produced a high-quality quinoa sample with nice big white grains, and they successfully matured, allowing us to mechanically harvest the crop with our combine. We now hold the exclusive UK licence to these new quinoa varieties and have built our business up around them.
First UK Trials
We commenced our first trials of quinoa production in the UK, starting at our farm in Shropshire. This continued for the next few years investigating how to produce quinoa in the UK.
Exclusive license secured
We secured the exclusive UK license for a new range of quinoa varieties bred for the European climate, helping to secure our future.
The British Quinoa Company LTD Established
Following several years of on-farm trials, The British Quinoa Company Ltd was formally established.
Starting out & expanding
We grew our first fully commercial crop and harvested around 20 tonnes of quinoa, whilst investing in cutting edge equipment to get our product to the final quality we required
We were approached by Pret A Manger to supply British quinoa for their product range – and we jumped at the chance!
We increased our production to around 80 tonnes of quinoa, with the vast majority going into Pret’s stores
We were featured on Countryfile and won the Arable Innovator of the Year Award at the British Farming Awards
Growing the Business
We started to take on members of staff to help cope with our growing business, while production of our British quinoa production soared to 700mt per year.
A Year of Firsts
We launched our first British grown crop of red quinoa, as well as expanded into supplying multiple other seeds and grains to our customers.
Custom-Built Offices Completed
We completed our purpose built offices on our farm, to house our expanding business. Again staff numbers and quinoa production kept increasing.
We celebrated our 10th anniversary this year, as well as launching our new Musu® black barley and Piro® red wheat crops, which we pioneered in the UK.
We care for the environment
We aim to leave valuable habitats untouched while striving to create new areas for wildlife to thrive. We see a panoply of different insects living within the crop, drawn by the fleshy nature of the leaves. One of the key things we can do to assist biodiversity is to provide a wide range of habitats, and quinoa fits in nicely with other major agricultural crops such as wheat, barley and oilseed rape, helping to make the landscape just that little bit different.
Meet the Team
Stephen manages our increasing base of growers, new product development and is the primary sales contact.
Edward runs the farm on a day-to-day basis and takes an active interest in British Quinoa.
Pippa J Conlan
Business Support Manager
Pippa mainly handles all the account related work and supports the business as a whole and assists with orders when necessary.
Business Support Co-Ordinator
Jemma processes all orders from first customer contact through to final delivery, liaising with warehouses and hauliers. Plus other admin duties.
Working in the technical team, managing supplier assurance and dealing with day-to-day technical enquiries.
Who we work with
We’re proud to work in partnership with some of Britain’s leading food retailers