Join Us!

Click here for the many benefits of Guild membership and to find out how to join.


Perkins Global Innovation Scholarship

Jane Craigie
01466 780078
Jane Craigie

Perkins - The Heart of Every Great Machine

 Perkins Global Innovation Scholarship

Deadline for applications: 26 January 2018

The Perkins Global Innovation Scholarship supports international travel and professional development opportunities for members of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists.

Perkins Engines Co Ltd has supported annual travel scholarships to study and report on farming innovation in Brazil (2016) and China (2017), giving the winner the opportunity to gain a very good understanding of agriculture in the country they visit and its wider region.

The 2018 destination is India and we are inviting applications to travel to this amazing country.

The award will be worth up to £5,000 towards travel and accommodation and the winner will be expected to join an organised itinerary at the start of the trip with Perkins, but will then be free to undertake their own travel and activities.

Thanks to some additional funds, there were two winners of the 2016 scholarship – Olivia Midgely from Farmers Guardian travelled to Brazil and Jez Fredenburgh from Farmers Weekly travelled to China. Freelance Aly Balsom won the 2017 award and will visit Argentina in 2018.

The objectives of the award are as follows:

1. To support the professional development of the winner;

2. To ensure strong social media, blog and post-trip media coverage of the winner’s findings;

3. To enhance links and networking between the British Guild and journalists/communicators in the host country.

The expectations from the winner will be as follows:

1. A blog is kept during the trip;

2. Social media activity before, during and after the trip;

3. Inclusion of good photography and/or video from the trip;

4. Maximum post-trip media coverage;

5. A short post-trip ‘reflections’ report;

6. A presentation about your trip at a BGAJ event.

To apply

Applications are being sought for the 2018 award to India, the closing date is 26 January 2018. To apply, please submit the following:

1. A written application on why you want to attend, what you hope to get out of this trip and why we should pick you! – preferably including a video ‘pitch’;

2. An outline of media and social media coverage you will commit to;

3. Agreement that you will commit to post-trip coverage and a post-trip report and presentation.

4. NB Award winners are not allowed to enter a subsequent year.

For guidance and additional information, please contact Jane Craigie at

Completed applications should be submitted to Guild secretary Nikki Robertson at

Trip open to three paying delegates

The trip will also be open to up to three paying delegates who can join the initial four days. They must be BGAJ Members who will cover their own costs for the duration of the trip.



Every food-exporting nation on earth wants a slice of China – and it’s no surprise, writes Jez Fredenburgh, winner of the 2017 Perkins Global Innovation Scholarship.

Guild Member Jez – who is deputy business editor at Farmers Weekly – spent three weeks in China finding thanks to winning the scholarship.

The Chinese market offers UK farmers, producers and food manufacturers tremendous opportunities, she writes, although it can be hard to break into.

China is the world’s largest consumer market for food and drink and is forecast to be the world’s biggest food importer next year.

Travelling round the country’s mega-cities and speaking to people old and young, rich and poor, it’s clear that Chinese people have a strong and rich food history and culture.

But it is also apparent that as the country becomes more open and connected and its people more wealthy, educated and well-travelled, their food and drink tastes are changing.

With a flourishing e-commerce industry, this is happening at a rapid pace and is opening up opportunities for less traditional foods, such as dairy products, beer, wheat and potatoes - all of which the UK excels at.

Meanwhile, its ever-swelling population of 1.4bn people, wants to eat more meat – and the Chinese ‘nose to tail’ approach means low value products in the UK, such as pig’s trotters and chicken’s feet, are high value there.

In addition, concerns about food safety and the overuse of agro-chemicals in domestically-produced food, means that many middle class consumers look to imported food as a guarantee of quality.

All of this presents opportunity for UK producers.

But China is a hard nut to crack - it is a highly complex and varied set of markets, not one big homogenous one.

Doing business there not only requires super-human patience to navigate the regulations, but a long-term commitment to develop business relationships - or ‘guanxi’.

The Pudong area of Shanghai (pictured above) was rice paddies 20 years ago.

Now middle and upper class consumers can be seen eating English cream teas on hotel roof tops, following the success of British cultural exports Downton Abbey and Bake Off. Demand for cream has increased as a result.

At the SIAL trade show in Shanghai, there was fierce competition in terms of cheese.

China - Jez Fredenburgh - Cheese 2017

This lime and chilli cheddar, from Somerdale and Barbers in Somerset, has been developed especially for the Chinese market and is used in a growing number of burger chains around China.

Chinese people are curious about trying new things and tend to start with milder cheeses like brie and cheddar and work up to stilton.

Craft beer is a booming market, presenting opportunities for malting barley growers to supply Chinese brewers, or British companies exporting to China.

Briton David Westwood set up Westwood Ales in 2013 in Shanghai using English malt and hops. He says UK politicians need to spent more time pushing UK food and drink in China.

There is also opportunity for high quality UK milling wheat - particularly uks soft biscuit wheat, says AHDB. Mills in southern China are keen and UK growers need to grow more.

China - Jez Fredenburgh - Farmer 2017

Organic vegetable and pig farmer, Mr Li, is tapping into growing demand for ‘clean’, environmentally friendly food by delivering vegetable and meat boxes to the city.

A surprise lunch cooked by Mr Li’s wife highlighted three things: Even if you have very little in China, good quality, fresh food is paramount; hospitality to strangers is unquestioning; and the nose-to-tail approach to meat means nothing is wasted.

We ate pigs' ears (chewy), tails (awkward!), nose (soft and fatty).

Following a serious food scandal involving milk, many middle-class Chinese consumers now buy imported UHT milk. There is huge demand for food that is considered safe in China - something which British farmers can capitalise on.

China - Jez Fredenburgh - Supermarket

Scarlet, a buyer at high-end supermarket City Shop in Shanghai, said Chinese people love British culture and they like to buy into it through food. British companies and farmers should get out to China to understand the market better and make contacts, she said.

Spending time with local people in Chengdu highlighted the importance of knowing your market and not making assumptions. Many older people prefer to buy all food from ther local market. They say imported food is a waste of money and not fresh.

China - Jez Fredenburgh - Zhongken

China has many large state-owned farming companies. I met Zhongken, a new company owned by China’s large dairy company, which is developing an e-commerce platform to meet the growing demand of Chongqing’s population.

The city has 33m people in its administrative area.

Chinese people hate waste and really like texture in their food - hence the taste for fifth quarter products, such as chicken’s feet, pigs’ ears/ noses/ tails. 

Sending fifth quarter pig products is helping add £7-8 to every UK pig carcass, according to AHDB, so it a very worthwhile way of balancing things out and ensuring more value goes back to farmers.


Guild Member Olivia Midgley embarked on a two week trip to explore agricultural innovation in Brazil as the inaugural winner of the Perkins Global Innovation Scholarship in 2016.

Olivia Midgley, head of News and Business Analysis at Farmers Guardian, visited a number of farms and agricultural businesses during her trip.

The tour included a visit to the Fazenda Jacarezinho beef cattle ranch in Bahia, where agri consultant Chris Ward introduced her to farm manager Barbara Barros (pictured above).

Olivia says: “The Perkins Global Innovation Scholarship gave me the opportunity to travel around Brazil and visit some of the brightest people working in the country's booming agricultural sector.

“Not only have I returned from the trip with a notebook full of stories and features, but I have also met some great friends who I know I'll stay in contact with and hopefully visit again in the near future.

“I'd urge all guild members to apply for the scholarship, it was an unforgettable experience.”

Olivia started her visit with a trip to Perkins’ world-class manufacturing plant in Curitiba, Brazil.

The facility has been operational since 2003 and produces Perkins 1100 Series range of mechanical and electronic engines to meet customers’ needs across the Americas region.

Olivia was welcomed to Curitiba by facility manager Wilson Loterio, manufacturing and technical manager Rodrigo Chibior and regional marketing manager for Latin America, Rafael de Souza.

After spending time with the team and learning more about Perkins’ history in Brazil, Olivia was given a tour of the manufacturing facility.

Throughout the tour Olivia was shown the globally consistent manufacturing processes which are implemented at every Perkins facility.

Olivia also learnt more about the agricultural, electric power and construction customers Perkins works with in Latin America and how the facility aligns with its customers’ requirements for local content to be used on the engines.

Perkins regional marketing manager Rafael de Souza said: “The visit was a great opportunity to show Olivia how we actively support our agricultural customers in Brazil and across Latin America.

“From technology integration workshops to applications and installations advice, and guidance on the latest MAR-1 emissions standards in Brazil, our customers are the forefront of everything we do.”

Website by Website Development Ltd