All in a Day's Work

All in a Day's Work: Glebe Farm MD

By Philip Rayner

- Last updated on GMT

Philip Raynor, Glebe's Farm's managing director, tells Food Manufacture about his role
Philip Raynor, Glebe's Farm's managing director, tells Food Manufacture about his role

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In May's edition of All in a Day's Work, we hear from Glebe Farm's managing director Philip Rayner.


Philip Rayner



Job title

Owner & managing director

Company and location

Glebe Farm Foods, Huntingdon


MEng Engineering Cambridge, PHD Micro Engineering & Nanotechnology Cranfield

Favourite food/drink

Well it won’t surprise you to hear, it’s oats – and plenty of them! Porridge in the morning and oat cookies for a delicious treat.

What inspired you to enter F&B?

Having grown up on the farm, helping with harvest when young – even driving combines from 15, my sister Rebecca and I had the ambition to not only grow crops, but manufacture great tasting product from what we grow on our farms, promoting British and sustainable practices as well as connecting the farm directly to retailers and consumers.

Both of us are always innovating and trying new products which led (by a varied path) to becoming one of the first companies to make gluten-free products in 2006. So, when we worked out that we could create a gluten-free oat supply chain we fell straight on it and learnt about oat milling and created our own mill. By managing the full supply process from our farm to end customer, we ended up making the very first gluten-free oat supply chain for porridge and ingredients. For us it was also the perfect crop to grow here in Eastern England. We then set about spreading the good news that coeliacs can eat great cereals and bakery made from GF oats throughout Europe.

Making our PureOaty oat milk was another step in the right direction and learning a whole new set of skills and processes to master. Upon the creation of PureOaty, our already well-established gluten free processes enabled our product to gain the unique position of being the only Coeliac-UK certified oat drink on the UK market. Which, for the coeliac community, is a huge landmark.

Tell us about your role

As a hands-on owner and MD, I have an active role in the day-to-day running of the business – including working closely with our teams on operations, business development, technology, and innovation.

What does a typical day look like?

My mornings tend to be focused on operational needs and engineering projects across our production facility – a mix of projects for improving quality and productivity, innovation and keeping our environmental impact to a minimum.

We are constantly investing in ways to improve our product and how we operate sustainably, including using our oat residue to create steam for our biomass boilers and solar panels to completely power our operation. We also recently opened a state-of-the-art Tetra packing plant at our Cambridgeshire site, which has enabled us to bring all packing into one place to reduce our food miles to the absolute minimum. A key part of my day is therefore checking on these new processes, equipment, and techniques to ensure everything is running smoothly! 

In the afternoons I am more involved with our customers, relationship building and exploring business plans and opportunities – so every day is quite varied… Also, given that I live right next to our site, I’m sometimes the (reluctant) on-call boiler man!

How did you get to where you are today?

After 15 years in technology development and innovation, I had a strong drive to bring new life and skills to our young food manufacturing business. The long-term relationships we have built over many years with fellow farms and customers has allowed us to pave the way in creating a British farming supply chain unlike any that have existed previously. Carefully selected, our farmers all follow our stringent gluten-free processes and are located locally to our own farm to reduce food miles with neighbouring farmers. Our farming background helps us hugely because we understand all the aspects of farming and how to really work with people we know personally in a long term partnership.

When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?

Being a natural problem solver, getting stuck into whatever issue has arisen and creating a solution always cheers me up. There are no bad days, just problems that I haven’t solved yet!

What’s your favourite part about the food sector?

Being an independent British business that’s a pioneer in the world of gluten-free food manufacturing, we have the unique privilege of being able to follow our oats from field, to farm to mill and then to food and drink. Food is so all-encompassing and our gluten-free oat innovations have helped millions of people with wheat intolerance have healthier, better, and longer lives. Alongside this, supporting our fellow farmers and reducing climate damage – all are what we all enjoy beyond just ‘doing business’.

If you could change one thing about the F&B sector what would it be?

An increase in focus from the retailers on British sourcing. It is not only positive for impact on our climate, but in Britain we have world class farming and food manufacturing capabilities that we should celebrate and appreciate. The stress that farmers are under from the current commodity systems are showing hugely in the current farmer protests across Europe – No farmers, No food. We must support a sustainable way to produce food in business and environment right through to consumers.

What’s next for you/what’s the dream?

We have grown so much in the last year with investment in our facilities, processes, and people, with new aseptic Tetra packing plant and there is always more to do with using more gluten-free oats, granola, and oat milk both with our PureOaty brand, great brand partnerships in private label and new oat ingredients for FMCG manufacturers.

I am also working right now on our net zero plan and looking to put another 800kW of solar generation on our roof and a fourth biomass boiler on oat chaff to make steam for the new expansion. There’s certainly no sign of us slowing down!

Read our previous 'All in a Day's Work' columns here:

August 2023​ - Cargill

September 2023​ - Collective Dairy

October 2023​ - Fuel Hub

November 2023​ - Luker Chocolate

December 2023​ - Wenlock Spring

January 2024​ - Bio&Me

February 2024​ - Cabosse Naturals

All in a Day's Work is published on the first of the month or, if that falls on a weekend, the first working day of the month. 

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