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W W W. F O O D A N D D R I N K N E W S . C O . U K

{ November / December 2020 }





November/December Food & Drink News

Editor’s Foreword

PUBLISHER Planet Media & Design Ltd Brooke’s Mill, Huddersfield HD4 7NR



CHIEF EDITOR David Barnett

SUB-EDITOR Rachael Whiteley

CONTACT US: FACEBOOK @food&drinkmagazine

INSTAGRAM @food&drinkmagazine

TWITTER @food_drink_news


It has, as everyone reading this is acutely aware, been an unprecedented year that has thrown up — at the very least — challenges for the food and hospitality industry, and at the worst has devastated many businesses. The last few months have also seen, however, evidence that the industry has risen to meet these challenges and developed new and innovative ways of working in order to tackle the pandemic; methods which have proved so effective they are being built into working life going forward. The crisis is not yet over, but we leave 2020 with a little more optimism that there is going to be an end to the situation and a return to some semblance of normality in the coming months. So let us all hope that 2021 is a better year for us all, and that the industry bounces back fighting fit.

David Barnett CHIEF EDITOR

Food & Drink News is published by Planet Media & Design Ltd. Company registered in England & Wales, number 09365661. All material is the copyright of Planet Media & Design Ltd. All rights reserved. Food & Drink News is the property of Planet Media & Design Ltd. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, whole or part, without the written permission of a Director of Planet Media & Design Ltd. Liability: while every care is taken in the preparation of this magazine, the publishers can not be held responsible for the accuracy of information herein, or any consequence arising from it. In the case of company or product reviews or comments, these have been based upon the true and honest opinion of the Editor at the time of going to press.

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Industry News }

LOMA SYSTEMS LAUNCH BARCODE SCANNER FOR IQ4 METAL DETECTOR SERIES ‘Check & Detect’ specialists, LOMA SYSTEMS®, has recently launched a handheld barcode scanner aimed at creating improvements in supply chain efficiency when used with the IQ4 Metal Detector Series. For lines with daily multiple product switches, operators normally have to select from a list of products via the Loma user interface screen to identify a new batch of products being presented. There is now a quicker and more accurate way to identify a product. Loma’s new barcode scanner for the IQ4 Series, a GRYPHON D4132-BK, can be used to scan the packaged product’s barcode. If the product has previously been set up, the system will recall all the product’s characteristics and immediately start detecting for metal contaminants.

Being IP52 rated and corded, the barcode scanner is available on the IQ4 Rectangular Search Head for both the IQ4 standard and RUN-WET® specification conveyorized metal detector series. For systems in the field, a service engineer/accredited Loma engineer should complete the installation. If a cradle/holster is required to hold the scanner, it should not be mounted to the IQ4 Search Head, as the metal-free zone should be respected.

Find out more at

WHITWORTHS SHAKES UP ITS OFFERING WITH THE LAUNCH OF ‘READY TO EAT’ PROTEIN BY NATURE RANGE Whitworths, whose purpose is to help everyone eat a little healthier every day, has launched a brand new bean, pulse and grains ‘ready to eat’ range, Protein By Nature. This is a real step change for the brand as it explores delivering on its purpose outside of its heritage in dried fruit and nuts. The Protein By Nature range is internationally inspired and ‘ready to eat’, made up of four ambient SKUs (RRP: £2.00/250g) that offer a variety of flavours from around the globe, including Brazilian Smoky Beans, Moroccan Grains, Indian Lentil Dhal and Mexican Spicy Grains. Each 250g pack contains 20g of plant protein (8g per 100g), through ingredients such as pinto beans, quinoa, lentils and wheatberries. Tasty and convenient, Protein By Nature is suitable for vegans, contains all nine essential amino acids, has no additives or flavourings and can be consumed as a main for one or side for two. The pouches can be prepared in two minutes and are low in sugar and saturated fat. Whitworths Commercial Director, Phil Gowland, comments: “With huge consumer


trends around natural protein and meat reduction we have seen a real opportunity to better utilise beans, pulses and grains to meet consumers’ needs. The Protein By Nature product is a nutrient powerhouse, being 100% natural, high in protein and fibre, low in salt and sugar, and rich in vitamins and minerals. It was clear from speaking to consumers that we needed to overcome three clear barriers: offer genuine ‘good for you’ products rather than a product masquerading as healthy, don’t compromise

November/December Food & Drink News

on taste – the biggest barrier to healthy eating, and keep it simple and convenient. Delivering products that do this is exactly what the Whitworths brand has been doing in snacking for the past few years, our wide recognition and unrivalled brand trust made this move an obvious one for us”. The products will be available in selected Morrisons stores from 2 November and selected Tesco stores from 9 November 2020.

{ Industry News }

FROZEN FOOD SUPPLIER KPFF LAUNCHES OOPS! RETAIL OPERATIONS FOCUSED ON REDUCING FOOD WASTE OOPS!, the new retail operation of frozen food supplier KPFF, has launched its first two stores in Preston and Bolton, and has plans to roll out a further 30 stores around the UK in 2021. OOPS! brings a new focus to the food industry by selling surplus food that would otherwise go to landfill when it is still perfectly edible. Food becomes surplus for simple reasons such as over-production, retailer and foodservice delists, labelling or packaging errors, underweights, goods having slight imperfections or a short shelf life. “We have to stop sending perfectly good food to waste simply because it has an imperfection on the packaging or there has been an error in the manufacturing process and it no longer complies with retailers’ specifications,” said Elaine Stevens, Technical Manager, OOPS! “OOPS! provides another option for manufacturers and retailers to stop their food waste going to landfill and help feed more people in crisis in our communities. Every item we buy, we give a new lease of life to. At OOPS! we fully understand food manufacturing, supply chain and retail processes, and the challenges within them. We have therefore developed and built an operation of our own that strips surplus retailer own-label, branded and foodservice products, repack and label them at our purpose-built site in Liverpool and then sell them direct to customers in our new stores at incredible prices.” OOPS! currently works with a whole host of manufacturers, including Midland Bacon, to reduce their food surplus. “We’re proud to be part of an expanding portfolio of manufacturing and retail partners that are truly committed to reducing landfill, helping more low-income households feed their families and delivering great food at the right price,” explains Chris Cox, CEO, Midland Bacon. “OOPS! offers a service that ensures all removal of our current packaging and any or all intellectual property rights prior to selling products whilst also disposing of all the packaging in accordance with the appropriate waste and retailer standards.”

What OOPS! is proposing is that many more manufacturers and the retailers in the UK start conversations and work together to explore other ways of reducing waste through increased redistribution. Noel Davis, CEO, OOPS! ends: “Now is the perfect time to act, as the impacts of COVID-19 and a second lockdown are felt across the country, more and more families

are struggling with access to affordable, nutritious food. We are here to help deliver sustainable solutions to this challenge – it is crucial that at every stage of the food chain we find ever more effective ways to collaborate. We are offering a long-term solution, not a short-term fix”.

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Industry News }

BERRYWORLD PARTNERS WITH FARESHARE OVER CHRISTMAS TO PROVIDE THE EQUIVALENT OF 20,000 MEALS THIS WINTER At BerryWorld we know that sustainability is a natural part of being a successful business. When earlier this year COVID-19 turned people’s lives upside down, BerryWorld UK saw an opportunity to support vulnerable families in the UK. Since then, BerryWorld UK and some of its British growers have diverted over 110 tonnes of under spec, but delicious fruit, with support from the Surplus with Purpose Fund. This fruit has so far contributed towards the equivalent of 261,100 healthy meals provided to those supported by FareShare in the UK. Jo Dyson, Head of Food at FareShare, said: “Working with BerryWorld, we’ve been able to help thousands of people to access quality, nutritious fresh fruit, which is always welcomed, enjoyed and important in helping to achieve a healthy diet. The support we have received from BerryWorld and their growers is important to our operation and our charity partners, and we look forward to continuing to work with

BerryWorld in the future”.

Sharing more of the goodness this Christmas This Christmas, BerryWorld are sharing even more goodness by making an additional financial contribution to charity; meaning the equivalent of 20,000 meals can be distributed to vulnerable people via FareShare.

Our goal is to provide fruit and donations equivalent to 300k meals in 2020. “The campaign will be launched early December on a selection of BerryWorld’s branded packs available through Ocado. We will be using QR technology on pack to raise awareness of FareShare’s great work in the UK,” explains Hannah Lumb, Senior Category Manager at BerryWorld UK. To amplify the impact of the campaign and encourage others to share the goodness, BerryWorld has also set up a JustGiving page to inspire further donations towards FareShare projects in the UK. “It has been a tough year for many families across the UK and because it is the season of goodwill, we hope this campaign will also encourage others to support FareShare’s work. More details on how to support this campaign can be found on,” explains Charlotte Knowles, Head of Marketing, BerryWorld Group.

OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD If you want to stand out, then you really need to get Outstanding… your one-stop shop for all branding, design and marketing needs no matter what area of the food and drink sector you operate in. Based in London, but with a global reach, Outstanding offers complete solutions that range from product design and branding to marketing, to even trademarking and organising campaigns to get into the supermarkets. Running a retail business or franchise and need a fresh, new look? No problem, as Outstanding also does complete shop-fitting from concept stage to final realisation — they’ve just completed a major project in Manchester for Chaiiwala® and have four more on the go. Formerly working from a studio in Birmingham, the Outstanding team is now based across the country following a re-


organisation of working practices during the Coronavirus pandemic, and is doing business all across the UK and beyond... with a project in Canada imminently to come online. It’s all about image for Outstanding,

November/December Food & Drink News

helping your business to find the right image, project the right image and maintain that image so that you stick in the heads and imaginations of your customers and clients. With their exhaustive list of talents and services also taking in design and print, photography and videography, website design and marketing campaigns both on and offline, Outstanding really is going all out to make itself indispensible to the food and drink industry. Their own success has been built on word-of-mouth up to now but they know that isn’t always enough for brands and companies, which is why they have a veritable arsenal of skills to deploy to put you, your product and your company right at the very top.

{ Industry News }

ECLIPSE MAGNETICS’ HOUSED EASY CLEAN GRID MAGNETIC SEPARATOR WITH HYGIENIC FINISH FOR HANNINGFIELD’S ATEX APPROVED APPLICATION Working for their client within the food industry, Essex-based powder handling, processing and containment machinery manufacturer, Hanningfield, installed an Eclipse Magnetics’ double-row housed grid to their Kwik-Sift centrifugal sifter as an extra line of defence when processing agglomerated powders. Sifting 100s of kilograms per hour, the Kwik-Sift captures common foreign bodies such as plastic, elastic bands and hair. The double-row housed grid was selected as a final security measure to remove the smaller particles of metal that the Kwik-Sift basket was unable to capture. A Kwik-Sift and integrated magnet are used to guarantee the entire process, and

potentially scrapped batch. Alex Ellis, Sales Manager at Hanningfield, said: “The Eclipse Magnetics housed grid was preferred due to its hygienic design, ease of integration with our equipment, our client’s need for ATEX compliance, and the ease of removal of any captured metal, where the internal magnetic grid bars can be removed; allowing the metal to simply fall off the product contact stainless steel bars”. The results of the installation offer proven effectiveness with the housed grid working reliably and efficiently, without holding up the product or impeding on throughput. usually employed before the material is processed to reduce the chance of a

AVARA FOODS LAUNCHES LOVE YOUR TURKEY LEFTOVERS CAMPAIGN Avara Foods, one of the UK’s largest turkey producers, is excited to launch the Love Your Turkey Leftovers campaign. This has been developed recognising some families this year may have a little more turkey left over than usual, with potentially smaller groups sitting down for Christmas dinner. Turkey is a delicious, affordable and versatile meat, and remains the UK’s favourite Christmas dinner centrepiece. Finishing up tasty turkey leftovers in the days following Christmas has long been a British tradition, but the Love Your Turkey Leftovers campaign aims to encourage people to consider some fresh new ideas. The campaign is promoting a series of 12 delicious, fun and easy-to-follow recipes people can try with store cupboard ingredients. Ranging from Christmas pizza with turkey and cranberries, to turkey and stuffing sausage rolls and turkey tacos, there’s something for everyone. Details of the campaign will be shared on product packaging, helping spread the word. The Love Your Turkey Leftovers website,, is live and its sister Instagram page,

@loveyourturkeyleftovers, will be encouraging people to share pictures of what they rustle up. While a light-hearted campaign, aimed at giving cooks some fun new ideas to try this festive season, the Love Your Turkey Leftovers message also has a serious side. Jacqueline Fennell, Head of New Product Development at Avara Foods, commented:

“We’re strong advocates of reducing food waste and recognise the festive season is one of those times hosts want to ensure there’s lots of choice for everyone, so often over-cater. The likelihood of this is increased this year with potentially fewer people visiting one another, so we’re pleased to share recipes to help combat wasting any turkey leftovers”.

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Industry News }

BCMPA MEMBERS PICK, PACK AND DESPATCH AROUND THE CLOCK TO ENSURE CHRISTMAS IS DELIVERED ON TIME The BCMPA, the Association for Contract Manufacturing, Packing, Fulfilment & Logistics, says lockdown 2.0 has further intensified the inexorable move towards online sales and deliveries made direct to consumer (DTC) in the food sector. With these latest restrictions on traditional retail shopping activities combining with the seasonal demand peaks of Black Friday and Christmas, the Association reports its members are experiencing significant growth in their packing, warehousing and logistics services for a wide variety of food and drink goods amongst others. The increase in online shopping was already on a fast-rising trajectory, but the coronavirus crisis has hugely impacted on this trend. Nearly three quarters of UK consumers announced, even before the second lockdown, that they would be avoiding shopping in-store this Christmas and a report by Barclays is predicting the busiest ever online retail season with sales

already running 50% higher than this time last year. For brand owners, the challenge has been to adapt to meet this increased demand and, importantly, mitigate any damage to their reputation through an inability to cope. To avoid the risk of being unable to service these heightened demands, particularly over the festive period, many companies are employing third party contract packers and fulfilment houses in order to ensure they have the necessary

skills and resources. The outsourcing of these elements helps to spread the load and provide sufficient infrastructure, staff and space to make deliveries possible. Rodney Steel, CEO of the BCMPA, said: “The pandemic has certainly sped up the change in consumer buying habits, driving demand away from the high street to online stores; at the same time, many brands have seen an opportunity to connect directly with customers, rather than relying on resellers. This change, however, often requires significant investment and infrastructure, which is where our members can help. “Whether it be creating the Christmas and limited-edition gift packs and hampers that form part of our festive celebrations or the picking, packing and despatching of food and drink orders from warehouse direct to homes, BCMPA members are able to provide a complete end-to-end service.”

EDDIE – EDIBLE INK PRINTER FOR EASY DIRECT-TO-FOOD PRINTING Eddie is the world’s first-andonly NSF- and GMP-certified edible ink desktop printer that prints full-colour photos, designs and text directly on to cookies, candy, white chocolate, biscuits, macarons, marshmallows and more. Printed food items can be up to 89mm wide and will be dry and ready for sale immediately after printing. Bakeries, candy makers, event planners and more are now able to produce personalised baked goods and confectionery within minutes. Eddie makes the printing process fast and easy. The machine prints up to 6 objects/minute, depending on the item size and actual print design. The included carousel tray can hold up to 12 food items


automatically and hands-free. From the beginning, Eddie was designed to meet or exceed all regulatory requirements for the specific purpose as an edible ink digital printer. The edible ink cartridge meets all FDA and EU standards for use as a food additive. The ink cartridge itself meets cGMP standards and the entire manufacturing and cartridge-filling processes are FDA-compliant and cGMPcertified.

and rotates them to the print position. Then the printer pulls in one item at a time, prints and sends them back to the carousel – all

November/December Food & Drink News

For more information call +49 611 92777-0, email or visit

{ Industry News }

TEMPORARY BARRIERS NOW A KEY TOOL IN COVID MANAGEMENT A recent government booklet which outlines best practice for companies on social distancing and Coronavirus safety has recommended temporary barriers as a key tool. These easily assembled, portable, lightweight products have become an invaluable asset to quickly, tidily and effectively enforce walkways, segregation,

temporary barrier leaders McCue/Banner Stakes, says: “Our temporary barriers are the first line of defence in the new battle against the virus in the workplace. The simple practicality of the barriers is proving vital for companies at the moment – but the products aren’t just ‘here today gone tomorrow’. They’re a vital part of any smart facility’s health and safety armoury – something that will last and be re-used time and again, and, ultimately, something that makes companies more efficient and productive”.

queue organisation and distancing wherever it is needed. UK Sales Manager Neil Cox from

To order McCue’s new range of temporary barriers, call now on 01908 365511

FOUR PILLARS LAUNCHES MODERN AUSTRALIAN GIN IN THE UK Australian gin-maker Four Pillars Gin – the 2019 IWSC International Gin Producer of the Year – has brought its Modern Australian Gin to the UK. Launching exclusively in Marks & Spencer, the ‘Aussie’ twist on a classic London dry gin style will be rolling out in more than 70 stores nationwide from this week, RRP £33.50. Modern Australian Gin is Four Pillars’ second gin to hit UK supermarket shelves in 2020, following the arrival of cult favourite Bloody Shiraz Gin in Waitrose last month. M&S will also stock the Shiraz grape-steeped gin, RRP £35.00. Stuart Gregor, co-founder of Four Pillars, said: “We’re stoked to have not one but two of our gins now in some of the UK’s best supermarkets. Our Modern Australian is our contemporary take on the classic – a bright and dry gin with a native twist. It’s delicious, it’s different and will make for a great G&T, or a perfect dry Martini”. David White, Marks & Spencer Spirits Buyer, added: “We’re thrilled to be exclusive

stockists for this unique gin. Many of our customers are discerning gin drinkers, and we can’t wait to hear what they think of these exciting new additions to our awardwinning spirits range”. Made in Four Pillars’ copper pot stills, it combines classic notes of juniper with native Australian and Asian botanicals, which include lemon myrtle, red and green Szechuan, quandong, macadamia nuts, fresh grapefruit peel and Rosie Glow apples. The

result is an Asian-inspired, Modern Australian gin with softness and spice. Four Pillars gained worldwide acclaim last year when it was crowned IWSC 2019 International Gin Producer of the Year. Earlier this month, it was once again shortlisted for the 2020 trophy – one of just four gin producers worldwide to do so.

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Industry News }

YPS PUT A LID ON IT! Trays are undoubtedly a great way to package food products. Whether plastic or foam, they are lightweight, durable and protective. But to really top them off and maximise their potential, the wrapping experts at Yorkshire Packaging Systems recommend sealing the deal with a high grade lidding film. Here’s why ‘LIDTEC’, developed by world-leading manufacturer Bollore and exclusively available in the UK from YPS, is the perfect choice for every tray… LIDTEC represents the ultimate glossy display window for trayed food goods, yet also preserves freshness, integrity and longevity. Retail packs of cheese slices, chicken pieces, meat fillets, vegetables and snacks all look better and stay fresher with this new dedicated top sealing solution. It provides a wrinkle-free, high transparency aesthetic that is perfect for the retail environment and a strong puncture resistant membrane to house food securely and prevent contamination. Impressively, LIDTEC also provides a precisely controlled shrinkage ratio. This offers a drum-tight fit to trays, holds food in

position and prevents slippage, all without distorting the tray’s shape (whether PET, PP, PE or foam). This also allows for a dramatic reduction in weight, density and rigidity requirements of trays, offering real potential to reduce the material volumes of trays for packers with ‘green’ concerns. The controlled shrinkage also makes LIDTEC perfect for retail shelf units where space is at a premium, as the trays can be stacked upright without compromising the appearance of their contents. Where shallower trays are used, retailers can benefit from the protrusion of the food afforded by LIDTEC to make the product portion look

even more substantial. Foods with a shorter shelf-life benefit from the company’s breathable LIDTEC specification as its oxygen permeability prevents stagnation and mould formation. Despite these properties, it shields food with a tough water-tight formulation that prevents leakage and contamination. Finally, anti-fog properties serve to prevent water droplets forming on the inside of the pack as the food breathes, retaining crystal clear clarity. LIDTEC is also available for MAP applications, such as foods with a longer shelf life like meat and convenience foods. Its barrier properties create totally hermetic seals to preserve the gaseous environment proven to extend shelf life and reduce food waste which is critical for the retail supply chain. With complimentary samples available now, why not give LIDTEC a tray? Bespoke printed variations also possible.

BORDER ‘TAKES THE BISCUIT’ TO ASDA THIS CHRISTMAS IN NEW SUPPLY DEAL Lanark based Border Biscuits is ‘taking the biscuit’ to Asda this Christmas, with the arrival of three products to over 70 of the retailer’s stores, just in time for the festive season. Established in 1984, Border Biscuits is the leading supplier of premium biscuits in Scotland and this year the company brings a new Luxury Biscuit Selection to shelves across the country, including two brand new Border Biscuits, the Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel and the Chocolatey Shortbread Rings. The new Luxury Biscuit Selection has joined two other Border Biscuits favourites which returned to Asda aisles for Christmas this year, in the form of the much-loved Dark Chocolate Gingers and the Classic Biscuit Selection. Nicola Cargill, National Account Manager for Border Biscuits, said:


“Our recipes start with good quality, wellsourced ingredients and are brought together using tried and tested mixing techniques. However, great ingredients and recipes are nothing without good people bringing them together.” “The launch of our latest biscuit selection in Asda just in time for Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to allow us to showcase our latest offering, as well as

November/December Food & Drink News

giving Asda customers the chance to try our delicious biscuits.” Heather Turnbull, Asda’s regional buying manager for Scotland added: “At Asda we are so passionate about supporting local companies and their produce. As a family-owned business, Border Biscuits has developed its recipes with passion and care to create a range of everyday treats that our customers love. “Border Biscuits has built on the popularity of the Classic Recipe Sharing Pack to create the Luxury Chocolate Biscuit Selection, making it the perfect indulgent treat to share with family and friends. We know our customers will enjoy them over the festive season!” Border Biscuits Luxury Chocolate Biscuit Selection, Dark Chocolate Gingers and the Classic Biscuit Selection are available in selected Asda stores in Scotland now.


Faster than insects Tianjin Guoshun Meat Food in China equips meat processing plant with 53 EFA-SRT-L ECO high-speed doors

Everything has to be clean when it comes to sausages. Not even the tiniest insect is allowed to wreak havoc in production at the new Tianjin Guoshun Meat Food plant. For this reason, the entrances to the production rooms have been equipped with EFAFLEX high-speed doors.

Tom Jia, Operating Manager of Tianjin Brown Technology Development, EFAFLEX’s long-standing Chinese partner, explains: “The owner of the factory attaches great importance to high-quality production equipment because the laws for food production are very strict here. Virtually all the plant equipment has been imported from Germany or Europe”. In the case of the 53 EFA-SRT-L ECO high-speed doors, the good reputation of the door specialist from Germany on the one hand, and the opening and closing speed of the doors as well as the high quality and durability on the other, were the deciding factors. In addition, the company also appreciates the superbly trained EFAFLEX technicians. The EFA-SRT ECO roll-up door impresses with its excellent value for money. Special structural preparations are not necessary due to the space-saving design, for example the roll-up door’s very slim side frames. As a result, the EFA-SRT®-ECO roll-up door can be used in more situations than any other. Elaborate guides on the sides of the door leaf prevent any undesired air exchange in the event of pressure differences. The EFAFLEX roll-up door’s standard door leaf is fully transparent and equipped with warning strips as standard. Coloured curtains are also available. The special versions against insects in the factory are

made of silicone-free, transversely stable fabric in rape yellow, RAL 1021. All doors and control cabinets were made entirely of stainless steel for production at Tianjin Guoshun Meat Food. Thanks to this equipment version, the doors are not only suitable for the industrial and logistics sector but can also be used superbly in the food processing sector. All 53 EFA-SRT-L ECO models are equipped with EFAEAS® crash protection at the owner’s request. The safety guard largely prevents expensive damage to the door leaf in the event of a collision. During a crash, the bottom door panel will be pressed out of its guides on both sides. Sensors signal this to the control and immediately stop the door movement. The door leaf and closing edge can then be reinstalled in just a few simple steps. The door is therefore ready for use again in no time at all. With the EFAFLEX roll-up door’s EAS version, the operator avoids unprofitable downtimes and ensures a perfect logistics flow. The roll-up door’s safety guard also reduces repair costs. The modern meat processing plant was built on an area of 25,000 square metres, employs 200 staff and is just an hour’s train ride from Beijing. The entire factory site covers an area of 48,000 square metres. The port of the city of Tianjin at the mouth of the Hai He is one of the largest foreign trade ports in the People’s Republic of China. The TEDA (Tianjin Economic and Technological Development Area) special economic zone has been established near Tianjin since 1984 and is open to foreign investors.

{ Scorpion Vision }

Reducing reliance on the human workforce in food production The spring and summer of 2020 has been, to put it mildly, a time of real change in the food production industry.


his author will not mention the ‘V’ word, which a quick Google search for the-word-not-to-besaid produces nearly 2 billion results – ‘About 1,870,000,000 results (0.57 seconds)’ to be nearly exact. Recognising that it has been a very tough year for many businesses, the news from the UK food production industry has been mixed, with a lot of challenges around the workers in the factories and warehouses who have had to adopt special precautions such as bubble teams, in an attempt to keep cross infection at bay. The meat processing industry is a sector that has especially suffered, with one chicken processing plant reporting 158 out of 400 staff being infected at one point in June 2020. The consequences for a business to lose the majority of its workforce literally overnight could be devastating, and it is this fact more than anything else that seems to have re-focused the industry on the essential need to automate their production processes. It is a well-documented fact that the UK manufacturing industry has historically been slower to invest in automation and robotics, when compared to businesses in other parts of Europe; this is especially so in the food production sector. Scorpion Vision as an automation company has seen an uptake in enquiries for food processing automation systems and reports a dramatic increase in enquiries

from the industry, from fish and vegetable processing to industrial bakery. Fresh produce and bakery are two very important sectors for Scorpion Vision. With the development of 3D machine vision systems using AI that can analyse the shape and inspect a product in near real time, the risk and upfront capital cost of such a venture has probably never been lower than it is right now. The company has a number of long-term references where automated fresh produce processing has been successfully applied minutes after it has been harvested. Prior to the deployment of these systems, large workforces were required to carry out the work. The images above are some examples of current systems in operation. With Christmas around the corner, the trimming of brussels sprouts by robots is of course a very topical subject!

Scorpion Vision offer free consultancy to those considering the implementation of a real-time processing system. For automated trimming, cutting, slicing and peeling call the sales engineers on 01590 679333 or visit to find out more.

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Chaiiwala }

Brewing up a global success — with a conscience Chaiiwala is on the brink of a global push to have their traditionally-made Indian chai drunk all over the world — which is not bad for a company that has its roots in a one-man street operation set up in 1927. Now headquartered in Leicester, Chaiiwala is a purveyor of chai, the delicious Indian tea, and with a clutch of franchises across the country they have found there is a definite appetite for this wonderful beverage. Chaiiwala has opened eight stores through this year affected by Covid — and is now setting its sights on expanding its franchising channels across the globe — and in a bold ‘coals to Newcastle’ move they are looking at setting up their first outlet in India. Chaiiwala boss Muhummed Ibrahim says that the decision to set up the company came on the back of the fact that Indian cuisine is the UK’s favourite takeaway food – so why not introduce consumers to the quintessential Indian drink, too? On the back of that, there has been an explosion in takeaway coffees over recent years, which was another trend that chai could be slotted into. But while Chaiiwala is becoming a major player in the takeaway hot drinks market, this is not ‘fast food’ for the sake of it... traditional brewing methods are being adhered to even as the company brings the beverage firmly into the 21st century retail landscape. Chai is traditionally brewed for 45 minutes before it reaches

the customer’s lips, and that is no exception with Chaiiwala’s range of chai-based drinks. It’s a far cry from when Muhummed’s grandfather – also called Muhummed — began plying his trade almost a century ago. “I wouldn’t even call it a company in those days. That was my granddad trying to make a living moving from the villages into the capital,” he says. But from those roots the current company was born with Muhummed — whose background is in pharmacy — setting up the business in 2015, with the opening of their first store in Leicester. By 2017 the company was opening franchising opportunities from the Midlands to London, and with the franchises there are now 500 employees, with a close-knit team of 25 at the Leicester head office masterminding the firm’s activities at home and abroad. Muhummed says of the foundation of the company, “We were sort of bouncing ideas about and looking around at opportunities for a business and that’s when me and my founding partners, who are both of my best friends and my cousins, thought, well, why not tap into that coffee market but with a different product, and go back to our roots.”

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Chaiiwala }

“And that’s where our journey started. If I’m being honest it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind because when we started it was the one shop and we thought maybe we’ll expand to two shops, but from day one we were busy and inundated with inquiries, and getting calls from all over the world, and that’s when we started to think it was going to work and that we could take the legacy of my grandfather forward.” Bringing chai to the UK was all about never compromising on quality — no matter what the cost to the company. Muhummed says, “If you have a proper Indian chai it’s essentially 45 minutes, and we were determined to do it properly. When we went to market we thought, right, it doesn’t matter how much we have to throw away, we will keep making it properly, so essentially we’re brewing it up in the back of the shop.” But the gamble paid off, says Muhummed, and the drink proved so popular that they are wasting less than 1% of what they make a day.


November/December Food & Drink News

Of the process, Muhummed says, “You’ve got the strainers, you’ve got the tea leaves on the board, you’ve got the sugar caramelising. You’ve got all of that going on and all those elements come together to make the traditional chai, butut what we’ve tried to do is marry up with today’s modern coffee culture and create that environment. “So we’re actually going with franchises back into India and Pakistan as well and people are sort of saying,

{ Chaiiwala }

well how are you doing that because that’s the home of chai? You know you can get a couple of cups on the streets for two rupees. “People over there might go out for coffee once every couple of days but they’ll have chai seven or eight times a day. And there’s a growing appetite with

Giro Food Limited has been an innovator in the ethnic food industry since its inception in 1969. We are pioneers in food service and have become trusted catering and wholesale suppliers specialising in food from all over the world. Our distribution division operates a large fleet of vehicles nationwide.

the middle classes who have money who want to be associated with the west so they want to spend their disposable income in coffee shops… but drink chai. “We were going to have our first store in India this year but with the impact of COVID we’re now going to land towards the end of next year.” This year will see the 35th store open in the UK, and six are ready to go in Canada as soon as COVID restrictions allow training and opening to begin. Expansion plans include a further 40 stores through 2021 in the UK. The company is also looking to expand into the Middle East and North America. It’s an amazing feat that Muhummed’s grandfather would be amazed to see. But not only is Chaiiwala going for global domination, they’re doing it with a conscience too. Sustainability is a big deal for the company, and through their Chaiiwala Foundation they aim to give back to tea-producing communities around the world, helping to empower and champion the people who are at the heart of the massive tea industry. They also practise ethical sourcing of ingredients and endeavour to support local suppliers as much as possible. Muhummed says: “I’m a grounded person and so are both my partners and while we’ve not come from great wealth or anything we’ve always been comfortable and we’re grateful for everything we’ve ever had. But the one thing that we always want to do is be at the forefront of helping other people as well. “The Chaiiwala Foundation is at the core of our system and our belief, it’s very close to us because you know we’ve been very fortunate and I’ve always believed that if you get wealth it isn’t going to decrease if you give it away… it’ll only increase because it makes you work harder.” November/December Food & Drink News


{ R&L Holt }

Sustainability and innovation the name of the game at top tomato growers Based in the Vale of Evesham, R&L Holt is a family business originally started in 1979 by Rick and Laura Holt. Second generation, Roly and Fliss, have been involved for many years. Tomatoes have been grown commercially in glasshouses since the early 1980s. It started with the purchase of Sandylands Nurseries in 1979 which was a typical market gardening site with a mixture of small wooden glasshouses and outdoor field crops. During the 1980s three glasshouses were built (Tom, Dick and Harry) and another (Fred) later in 1999. In 2004 they built a six-acre block at Hornsfield Nurseries and in 2009 Springhill Nurseries was constructed and first planted in 2010. The total glasshouse acreage of the three sites is 22 acres. During 2013 they replaced Tom, Dick and Harry with a state-of-the art modern block suitable for allyear round production. All crops are grown hydroponically using Nutrient Film Technique. Originally, crops were grown on the ground with a profiled slope, but in 2004 the company designed the ‘NFT hanging gutter.’ Now all of the crops are grown on hanging gutters which is a better climate for the plants and easier working height. They have developed this system further in the last 10 years to maximise the growing potential of the crops. Energy is something that is constantly reviewed to


November/December Food & Drink News

be more efficient and sustainable, and the company currently uses combined heat and power (CHP), steam and hot water biomass boilers, roof mounted solar (PV) and biogas from an anaerobic digester facility (heat and CO2). Both top and side screens are used to reduce energy demand in the crops and both LED interlighting and top-lighting is used for all-year round production.

{ R&L Holt }

New to 2019/20 is a new site at Throckmorton, called ‘La Serra.’ This 8ha site is designed for all-year round production with LED lighting and gas CHP. Situated next to a solar farm and an anaerobic digester this flagship site has a great sustainable energy model suitable for growing in the 21st century! R&L Holt are proud to have used their experience from the last 40 years to help design and manage the site. Over the last 20 years they have worked closely with Evesham Vale Growers who focus on packing and marketing their tomatoes. Following knowledge gained by growing partners, R & L Holt, Sandylands project in 2014 (where they installed a hybrid lighting set-up with Signify Gen 1 LED Inter-lighting and HPS top-lighting) the next step taken at the La Serra site to optimise lighting further and efficiency. This has resulted in the decision to choose Signify’s new Top Compact LED module together with HPS and Gen 3 inter-lighting. Powering the lights are three Janbacher CHP engines installed by Gruppo AB. For those who know the tomato industry, the Holts have continued to use the NFT system for irrigation for 40 years now. This project clearly shows EVG’s further commitment to British tomato production. On a site where they already have a solar farm and an anaerobic digester the

glasshouse seems to fit the jigsaw nicely. Commenting on this investment Andrew Bille, Director of EVG and member of the TGA Board, says, “It’s a great and exciting project that puts us on the map for all-year round British production”. Uniconfort manufactures and install biomass plants up to 30MWth and cogeneration systems up to 5MWe. Every project starts focusing on the Customer need and the plant is designed with Uniconfort established technology. The biomass boilers produce steam, hot water, superheated water or thermal oil, using biomass from wood, from agricultural and food processing or from other processing derived fuel. Uniconfort has already installed more than 2,900 boilers all over the world suitable for heating systems, districts heating, industrial processes and cogeneration systems. In the UK, the project for R&L Holt began from the Customer needs: to install one of the most efficient and sustainable energy production systems for their glasshouse. The biomass plant installed by Uniconfort produces hot water and electricity by using waste wood recovered from the local area. With this investment the customer can reduce his operative cost and can produce his product with an environmentally friendly impact. Sustainability is key at R&L Holt. From the materials used to grow the crops to the re-usable crates the fruit is packed in, it is important to the company that sustainable products are used. As well as the biomass boilers they employ thermal screens to keep heat inside the glasshouse and also to help shade the crops during bright weather. LED lighting uses up to 40% less electricity than conventional lighting and reduces the requirement to import power and therefore not rely on the National Grid supply.

November/December Food & Drink News



November/December Food & Drink News

{ Stag Bakeries }

Tradition at its core, but the future in its sights In the north-west of Scotland, on the island of Stornoway, for more than 130 years one bakery has been providing traditional Scottish fare, using local ingredients and recipes, and utilising time-honoured methods.

Stag Bakeries is famous for its water biscuits, oatcakes and cheese straws, as well as the more traditional morning goods. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have one eye on the future. Daniel Smith, of Stag Bakeries, says: “Our whole ethos ties back to the foundations of the company. We wanted to produce a product range that has a very trusted provenance and is seen to be completely authentic. “A big thing for us as a company is that we speak to our roots, and our core products have been with us for a long time now, but we are constantly always finding ways to improve what we do. So we try and pair that tradition with a great sense of innovation as well.” Stag works in two markets — providing the local communities around them with daily goods and manufacturing products to go ‘across the water’ — to retailers and customers in mainland Scotland and the rest of the UK. Their services proved especially vital during the pandemic and although the islands weren’t as badly affected as a lot of more densely-populated mainland areas, there were obviously still disruptions and Stag worked hard to keep the local communities served, running a mobile van to get to more remote rural areas.

Stag’s USP is bringing together its blend of provenance, heritage and craft baking methods in the competitive baked goods industry, and utilising those family values which started the company in 1885. The bakery in Stornoway has been a trusted part of the Hebridean landscape since the 19th century, and, says Daniel, they still uphold the values that the company was built on — a pride in the work and a cast-iron commitment to customer satisfaction. He adds: “Add a healthy measure of creativity and you have a range of award-winning products for every occasion”. For the future, Stag will continue to innovate and add new lines alongside their traditional, much-loved core products. Their recently-instituted Christmas line, including hampers showcasing the Stag products, are proving especially popular. They are also looking at selling their products further afield, by taking tentative steps into the export market, and hoping to bring those lovingly-created traditional Scottish products to a global stage.

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Ugo }

Passionate about pasta… for nearly a hundred years It’s fair to say that for the people at the Ugo Foods Group, pasta is an obsession, and has been for nearly 100 years. This fourth generation family-owned company, based in Hertfordshire, is the largest and longest-established fresh pasta and noodle company in the UK. Although Ugo Foods has a fascinating history, dating back to 1921, when the young Luigi Ugo, aged 14, left his home in Tortona, Italy, for the bright lights of London and went on to give Londoners their first taste of fresh pasta, there is much to be said for the company as it stands today. Not only has Ugo Foods pioneered various firsts for the UK, including introducing gnocchi, organic, wholewheat and fresh gluten-free pasta, but it is now a fourth-generation family business, employing over 160 people. The success is thanks to the Ugos continuing to pride themselves on the innovative methods and ethos that Luigi brought, with their relentless focus on quality. Sophia Cooke, CEO of the Ugo Foods Group, was brought in to be Ugo’s Commercial Director in 2017 and following her success in the role, was promoted to CEO in 2019. Although not an Ugo by blood, Sophia ensures the company still remains ‘one big family’ and she is evangelical about the products and the brand. “Our continued success comes from sticking to our core values,” says Sophia. “We are always true to


November/December Food & Drink News

ourselves and to our products. We will never compromise. If you want the best quality, then you come to us.” Ugo has an enviable list of clients, from both retail, direct to consumer and foodservice, including leading brands such as Waitrose and Wagamama. Ugo works tirelessly with clients to find solutions for their customer needs, whilst still balancing commercials but never compromising quality. Sophia ensures that Ugo’s growth is not going to be at the expense of their own rigorous quality standards. “We are selective about what we do and produce, and

{ Ugo }

we have nurtured our supplier relationships over the years, to source responsibly at the highest standards.” As well as manufacturing for clients, Ugo Foods Group also has a flagship brand of their own, Dell’Ugo, which offers a wide range of premium fresh pasta dishes, including vegan, gluten and allergy-free products; this brand really demonstrates Ugo’s knowledge and passion to innovate. Sold in several major retailers and recently through their own directto-consumers website, Ugo Foods has plans to continue to expand Dell Ugo’s presence as brand awareness continues to grow, with plans to branch out into other categories in the near future. The reason Ugo Group has so much belief in their own brand, is because the products embody Ugo’s values. Ugo knows that their customer is looking for an easy meal that doesn’t compromise on their own values when it comes to health, nutrition, quality and taste. Fresh pasta is ready in minutes, and is a healthy alternative to ready meals or frozen, oven-cooked meals, that many people reach for during the working week. Ugo also knows that their customers are looking for food from brands they trust, which have the knowledge and skills to produce quality food, and use natural and sustainable ingredients. So, to continue making the best fresh pasta, without compromising, it’s important to have the knowledge on

what makes for ‘the highest quality’. Ugo uses some of the best ingredients that can be found, including the finest semolina sourced from the wheat fields around Altamura in Puglia, known for producing the highest quality durum wheat in the world. For years Ugo has been working exclusively with this family miller whose expertise dates back to 1877. And better yet, the fresh egg pasta is made only using British free-range eggs laid by hens on a varied and nutrient-rich diet. Whilst Ugo ensures the pasta itself is tip-top, the complementing ingredients also must meet the mark. Ugo sources their fresh Genovese Basil D.O.P., for their pesto. This is exclusively grown in a small area of Liguria, Italy and is renowned for its unique perfume, small oval leaves and delicate colour. They also source British Cromer crab caught off the Norfolk coast, as the chalk-rich nutrient waters make this crab flavoursome and tender. All in all, the spirit of Luigi Ugo’s entrepreneurship and drive for the highest quality is adhered to strictly, almost a hundred years later. A core ethos with which the company is now built around is about things being ‘Better For You’, which covers a multitude of aspects of what Ugo does: their food, of course, but also their commitment to their staff, clients and customers, and how they are tackling sustainability issues; with projects to improve their packaging and waste. With more exciting things to come in the near future, including NPD launches for both clients and Dell’Ugo and also a few new own-brand ventures, set to launch in 2021, Sophia says: “Obviously 2020 has been a difficult year for many companies, and a lot of places have had to put things on hold, but we are looking to the future and we have some really exciting plans, in terms of new products, investment and sustainability. “For me, our success has been all thanks to the fabulous team we have here, and how we have all supported each other to get through the last year. This gives me tremendous confidence that we will continue to grow and be successful.”

November/December Food & Drink News



November/December Food & Drink News

{ Tree of Life }

Tree of Life branching out but staying true to their healthy roots Tree of Life is the UK’s largest privately owned wholesale distributor of healthy, natural and organic products, supplying many businesses of all sizes for over 20 years. They supply more than 1,200 independent retailers and are a key supply partner to many retailers in more than 30 countries around the world. Their ranges include superfoods, healthy drinks, vitamins, minerals and supplements, as well as beauty, personal care, and pet and household products. Tree of Life was the founding business of the Health Made Easy Group Ltd which has over the past few years grown through acquisition. These include:

in September 2018.

Peppersmith Peppersmith was born in 2010, on the back of a desire to make a healthier mint and chewing gum range. Today, the products can be found in numerous retail outlets offering the customer a healthy alternative to the major brands. The Peppersmith brand joined the group in August 2018.

Higher Nature The Health Store Wholesale Ltd In 1932, health food stores were still a relatively new idea and finding supplies could be both difficult and expensive. So to centralise buying and help each other to get the best terms and prices, 50 stores from as far afield as Aberdeen and Devon got together to set up Health Stores (Wholesale) Limited as a cooperative. Today, much has changed, and The Health Store has evolved into a state-of-the-art organisation supplying customers all over the UK, Ireland, Europe and as far away as Hong Kong. The Health Store joined the group

In 1994, trailblazing nutritionists Celia and Brian Wright started creating and selling therapeutic supplements from their home in the Sussex countryside. They used only the best ingredients and formulas were developed based on the latest scientific research. Sadly, Celia died in 2009 but her legacy and dedication to wellness remains at the heart of the business. The Higher Nature brand joined the Health Made Easy Group in December 2017. Like most businesses today, the pandemic has had significant impacts on the business from an operational

November/December Food & Drink News


{ Tree of Life }

perspective. Overnight demand increased dramatically from all customers, putting immense strain on all departments. The teams worked admirably during this time to ensure they did not let their customers down, and meet as much demand as possible. Key areas of challenge related to all products in the baking sector as the country went baking mad, following the scramble for toilet rolls. Lessons were learned, however, from the crisis, which puts all Health Made Easy companies in a good position to embrace 2021. They are now in planning mode to ensure they can manage the outcome of Brexit: deal or no deal. A spokeswoman said, “The pandemic made us review all our ways of working to ensure we maximised efficiencies to ensure we could manage the additional demands on the business. Therefore we will continue to operate in this way as it has benefits for both our customers and staff”. That isn’t to say there haven’t been new developments at the company. The spokesman added: “We have invested more in the Tree of Life brand with a significant number of new product launches with the latest one being Tree of Life Oat Drinks in three different variants. “Our drinks contain a higher than average percentage of oats, which gives a distinctive flavour, whilst our natural extraction process ensures the beneficial soluble fibres (beta-glucans) are retained. The other trend we are seeing is increased demand in vegan products as more people want to follow a plant-based diet so we continue to introduce new products to support this trend. “Higher Nature has stepped up its NPD in the last 12 months, launching 25 new products including two significant ranges. Daily Nutrients is a unique concept of daily supplement packs that target modern-day lifestyle needs such as energy, sleep and relaxation.” “We noticed a gap in the market,” says Sharon Golbey,

Head of Mmarketing and Direct Sales. “Our packs cleverly provide a handy daily tear-off strip containing a trio of supplements, removing the need for multiple bottles of tablets or capsules and offering an easy onthe-go solution.” Digital Defence is a groundbreaking range of next generation skincare from Higher Nature with 100% protection against damaging blue light emitted from digital devices such as mobile phones, laptops and TV screens. All of the group companies will continue to build upon the growth they saw pre-pandemic. This includes Tree of Life where the turnover was growing well before the crisis, and the pandemic has exacerbated this. This growth pre-pandemic was driven by customer acquisition and greater customer engagement to sell in the significant number of new ranges they bring into the businesses on a monthly basis. Under a new group structure there have been changes to people’s roles, with the major change being in the day-to-day management of the business, Tree of Life and The Health Store operating as the distribution wing and Higher Nature and Peppersmith as the brand division. The main plans on the table for the coming year relate to growing the pre-pack production facility at The Health Store, and continuing to service their existing customers with new and exciting products and services. In five years’ time, Tree of Life would like to be seen as the leading provider of healthy foods across all sectors, with ranging differentiation to ensure they meet the needs of the differing sectors. As ever, their motto is to “Make Health Easy”, and they use their specialist market knowledge to provide support tools to help their customers’ businesses grow alongside their own.


November/December Food & Drink News

{ Forward Features List }








November/December Food & Drink News