Sunny future for Mersey peanut imports

The Wirral is home to one of the largest centres for peanut imports in the country. They’re brought across the Atlantic from the US by the UK’s biggest independent peanut processor - Sun Valley Ltd. Operating since 1949 and with an annual turnover of £40m, Sun Valley is  responsible for 12 per cent of all peanut imports into the UK which it processes and sells under its own brand as well as into the private label and food ingredient sectors.

Given its location close to the Port of Liverpool, Sun Valley is keen to continue to strengthen its historical links with the Port, and has facilitated a visit to the Peel facilities with its industry body The Nut Association (TNA) on a fact finding mission to see how using the port could benefit the entire supply chain.

Peter Robinson, Sun Valley’s Head of Procurement explains why Liverpool is the port of choice not just because it is the closest in terms of location but because of the port’s health credentials and depth of experience with peanut supply.

As longstanding active members of the TNA, we’re keen to continue to develop our relationship with the Port of Liverpool, and we hope to see a major increase in the volumes of product we ship through the port.  

With the majority of US peanuts coming from the east coast, Liverpool is a key port for the industry and for the manufacturers based in the north in particular. Taking advantage of the transatlantic links with Liverpool makes better business sense – in terms of cost, efficiency and route to market.  

Since taking up my position with Sun Valley three years ago, I’ve been taking a close look at our supply chain and building our relationships with key stakeholders. Working more closely with the TNA and the Port of Liverpool has always been high on my agenda, as I know that with a stronger relationship, we can collaborate better both locally and internationally.

On a recent visit to the port, the TNA members were able to see the intricacies of quayside operations. It was also a great opportunity for the members to explain the challenges we face and the importance of ensuring we have an efficient, cost effective supply chain to support our sector. Partnership working is central to any successful supply chain relationship, so I was extremely keen to facilitate the dialogue between our industry and the Port so they can fully understand the members’ goals and work together on the best solutions.

There’s been a lot of investment into Liverpool in recent years, including the progressive L2 container terminal. We have a long history of supply to our business through the port of Liverpool and first-rate container capabilities are fantastic for industries like ours.By working with the Port of Liverpool, we can get our products onto shelves more efficiently by optimising our supply chain.  

The products we import are subject to regulatory Port Health checks and the frequency of these tests is set to change. What we look for in a strong supply chain partner is an understanding of the impacts this can have on end users and a willingness to work with our industry to make the process as efficient as possible, minimising any delays and costs.  

Speaking from a Sun Valley perspective, the investment into L2 and the increased capabilities of the port together with the greater willingness of the Port’s commercial and operational teams to reach out into industry and the greater ties we’ve built up over the last 3 years with the Port Health team will support  the business to grow, with the port acting as a trusted partner with a deep understanding of the nature of our products – allowing us to meet our aspirations.

Ultimately, we hope that members of the TNA will continue to see the value of the solutions on offer, future growth plans of the port, outcomes of recent investment and in particular the role of port health – which has a massive impact on our business.

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