Bird food manufacturer flying high as it ramps up capacity

An investment by bird food manufacturer, Johnston & Jeff, will see the business increase production by 60%.

The company has installed a new blending plant at its manufacturing site in Gilberdyke, East Yorkshire, as well as a gross bag weigher, costing a total of £384,000.

This project was supported with £30,000 from the Hull and East Yorkshire LEP’s Growing Hull & East Yorkshire grant scheme.

Growing Hull & East Yorkshire is funded by the LEP’s Getting Building Fund programme, secured as part of the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse.

Johnston & Jeff is a UK bird seed supplier, providing blends and individual feeds for the wild bird market, as well as for companion birds such as parrots and aviary species.

The blending plant, which will be used to make parrot and aviary bird food, builds on a £1m factory expansion completed two years ago which coincided with the company’s 140th anniversary.

Richard Johnston, managing director and fourth generation member of the Johnston family, said the investment had been driven by increasing demand in the wild bird market for higher quality, more nutritious blends.

But he added the pandemic had played a role too, as many people bought companion birds during lockdown for company, and because they had the time to look after them.

Johnston said: “Feeding wild birds, and companion bird ownership, increased significantly during the pandemic. This has been driven by a lot of factors.

“With many people either working from home or being furloughed, they have had chance to reflect on what is important to them.

“Some concluded it is doing more to help nature and wildlife, others may have made the room and time for a pet they’ve always wanted. Some have done both.

“Which ever it is, it is wonderful to see all types of birds being so popular with the public again.”

He said the new blending plant would enable the business to increase production across the board, of both wild bird food and food for pet birds.

“It will be used specifically for parrot and aviary blends to achieve better blending of ingredients that vary in size and shape, and to ensure a clean, thorough mix.

“This means we can dedicate our existing blending plant to making wild bird food, enabling us to increase running times and efficiency, while building on the product quality we’re renowned for.

“By adding in a second shift and some ancillary equipment, we will be able to realise an increase in production capacity of 60%, helping us to grow market share in our core business areas.”