As we near the end of 2019, we can reflect on what has been one of the toughest years in our history. The second half of the 2018/19 onion season was to say the least, a little challenging.
We imported more onions than we have done in a decade which put a huge strain on all aspects of the business. Financially, operationally and technically, we were under massive pressure to keep our customers shelves filled with good quality product. With the strong relationships we have with our customers, we were able to work together to ensure continuity of supply. We saw the season out and managed to keep all of our customers in onions.
This years crop was looking like being a bumper year with more onions than anyone knew what to do with, despite crops being under water during early summer with the wettest June on record. But rain has been the story of the later part of the harvest with the heavens opening in mid September and the rain not really stopping since. This has given rise to several quality issues. So another challenging year this season then.
We've grown our business this year in many areas, both with new customers and gaining more business from existing ones. Lidl have come on board and the Ocado own brand business started this year too which is growing nicely. In Goldwood, both Sainsbury's and Aldi prepared onion business are both going well.
We celebrated 40 years of onion packing as well as 30 years as a supplier to Waitrose and Partners. Both of which are incredible achievements in what is a highly competitive market.
We moved into our new canteen facilities at the end of January and started to use the new cold store space.
Goldwood had a third packing line installed, giving us much needed packing capacity. We also stripped out and replaced the ageing concrete floor in the waste shed as well as installing a new trial water treatment plant.
We've welcomed two new labour agencies across the business who seem to be settling in well. And talking of labour, we said farewell to some key members of staff. Two directors, David Hodgson and Peter Hogan both retired this year, leaving some large shoes to fill. And Christine Crowfoot retired after many years at the helm of the HR department.
It has been a fantastic year for certifications. Everyone on site got behind driving through the mammoth task of combining both Goldwood and MBC BRSC audits on top of a significant version change. To come out with a AA+ is a huge achievement. We also completed the Soil Association audit with no non conformance's and the Smeta audit with just the one.
We have achieved a lot this year and at times it has been a real struggle. However the positive attitude and drive from everyone at Moulton has seen us overcome adversity and finish the year strongly.
It just remains to with all of our employees, customers, suppliers and growers, a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.