12th January, 2013

Jeremy Benson and the National Trust partnership – a brief history

A family business based on a National Trust farm at Sherborne in the Cotswolds has been awarded a contract to supply fruit juice to the 230 National Trust restaurants at 180 tourist sites throughout the UK. As a National Trust tenant Bensons Totally Fruity were selected to be the first producer to supply their product nationwide and will see Bensons become a national name thanks to the National Trust.

Jeremy Benson, Managing Director, founded the company in 2002 after a trip to his father’s fruit farm in Lanchester, County Durham. Having tasted his father’s freshly pressed apple juice Jeremy decided to make his own and took the first batch along to a local music festival where it sold out on the first day. Since then the business has continued to thrive despite some difficult economic conditions and this year Bensons 15 team members, of which five are Sherborne residents, are gearing up to see 240,000 bottles of apple juice roll off the production line.  The specially designed National Trust labels featuring the traditional logo will appear on four different flavours of juice: apple and rhubarb, apple and elderflower, apple and raspberry and, apple.

As tenants of the National Trust for eight years Bensons juices could be found in about 80 restaurants and tea rooms around the country; however with the appointment of Harry Heeley as director of food and development the relationship between both parties has been strengthened. Harry informed Jeremy that he wanted to develop the core range of food and drink available across the National Trust sites.

Jeremy is the first National Trust tenant to work with the charity on a national basis. Jeremy commented “We have established a really strong relationship with the National Trust over the years and Harry has seen the popularity of our apple juice through the volume of sales. This is a really exciting project for Bensons and a real validation of what we do which is to produce a great tasting quality product made from delicious British apples grown on British farms.”

Jeremy is a third generation farmer and while he may no longer farm in the traditional sense of the word he believes passionately in supporting British farming which underpins the UK’s food and drink sector.  The Benson’s philosophy to use only the finest British apples contributes to keeping the orchard industry in the UK alive, particularly as 60% of them have disappeared since the 1950s. This deal with the National Trust will see an increase in the volume of apples supplied to Bensons so suppliers will also share the benefits.

However it’s not only suppliers to Bensons who will benefit from the deal. Local pigs living at Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park are also set to share in the success as the apple pulp, which is a natural by-product of the apple juice production and would normally go to waste, is used to feed them.  Supplying local farms with the pulp provides an organic method of disposal, illustrating one way that modern production methods can be practised in a sustainable and environmentally effective manner.