The final countdown is on for an Angus farmer to supply more than 40 million Brussels sprouts which will grace Christmas tables across the country.
With just a week to go until the nation sits down for its annual feast, Peter Stirling has both the honour and pressure of being the exclusive prepared sprout supplier to M&S.
He and his staff are now working round the clock to make sure the vital ingredient is on all of the stores’ shelves on time.
Peter owns the 400-acre Seahills Farm, a few miles from Arbroath. He has been supplying M&S for the last 19 years and at Christmas time his 100-strong team harvest 25% more sprouts than the rest of the year.
Peter said: “We work day and night for a 12-day period leading up to Christmas to process and package the sprouts for customers up and down the UK.
“It can get very hectic but sprouts are one of the heroes of the traditional Christmas dinner.
“My team and I are humbled M&S customers across the country get to enjoy our product on one of the biggest days of the year.”
Peter says the specimens he and his team produce offer a milder and sweeter tasting product than standard sprouts.
And he says the farm’s location, next to the sea, offers a distinctive growing environment which results in healthier and blemish free sprouts, with double the shelf life of other varieties.
Katie Squire, product developer from M&S, said: “Producing a good sprout isn’t easy.
“It takes the perfect combination of healthy, nutrient-rich soil, water, a perfect climate, protection against pests and diseases as well as skilled labour to grow and harvest it when it is at its best.
“As well as Peter’s attention to quality, sustainability is at the heart of everything Peter and his team does.
“All plant waste material is spread back on to the land as a green fertiliser and wind power is something he’s looking at doing in future to reduce his reliance on fossil fuels.”
As well as ready prepared sprouts, Peter also supplies M&S stores with sprout trees and exclusive flower sprouts – a combination of kale and sprouts.