FoodChain Issue 150 June 2019

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FoodChain Issue 150


JUNE 2019

The business of food and drink

Catering to its customers High-quality beef supplier Pickstock Telford developed its capabilities and now its fully integrated system is attracting attention from the foodservice and catering sectors

Industry News Estrella Damm reveals its Food & Drinks Trends Report l

Ones to watch Consumer trends in the second half of 2019 include the dawn of the doughnut


British brand YAAR launches first chilled Quark bars

l Dr Oetker completes ÂŁ30m capital investment programme

Safe and sealed The impact that food safety has had on milk packaging all across the world

FoodChain ISSUE 150 L JUNE 2019


Catering to its customers

Editor’s Welcome

High-quality beef supplier Pickstock Telford developed its capabilities and now its fully integrated system is attracting attention from the foodservice and catering sectors

Industry News L Estrella Damm reveals its Food & Drinks Trends Report

Ones to watch Consumer trends in the second half of 2019 include the dawn of the doughnut

L British

brand YAAR launches first chilled Quark bars

L Dr

Oetker completes £30m capital investment programme

Safe and sealed The impact that food safety has had on milk packaging all across the world

Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes

Full coverage Subscribe for free by visiting:

Staff Writer Vladi Nikolov Art Editor Fleur Daniels Advertising Design Fiona Jolliffe Sales Mark Cawston Theresa McDonald Gary Silk Sam Surrell Web Sales Exclusive Features Darren Jolliffe Independent Sales Dave King Operations Director Philip Monument Operations Manager Natalie Griffiths Editorial Researcher Wendy Russell Office Manager Advertising Administrator Tracy Chynoweth Social Media Jo-Ann Jeffery


elcome to the latest issue of FoodChain – are you reading this in the digital or print format? The fact that we still print in hard copy is a matter of pride to me as I do believe there’s nothing as satisfying as

holding that magazine in your hand, especially if you’ve contributed to it! Is that old-fashioned in this high-tech time? Moving onto our content this month – we do cover a lot of ground! From storage to cider and from waste reduction to trends in bakery, our features should hopefully cover something that benefits your business. Further lessons can be learned from our profiles, as we speak to experts in their field about what makes

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their companies successful and their plans for the future. You will also notice our opportunity for you to subscribe to the digital version of

FoodChain Magazine

FoodChain on page 66. It’s free to receive and each month you will receive a link to the magazine. I am always looking for feedback on what you’d like to see in the magazine, so please do subscribe and take a look at our content, and drop me a


line if there’s something you would like me to cover, or if you would like your own company featured! I’d love to include you.

Schofield Publishing Cringleford Business Centre, 10 Intwood Road, Cringleford, Norwich, NR4 6AU, U.K. T: +44 (0)1603 274130

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Please note: The opinions expressed by contributors and advertisers within this publication do not necessarily coincide with those of the editor and publisher. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information published is accurate, and correct at time of writing, but no legal responsibility for loss occasioned by the use of such information can be accepted by the publisher. All rights reserved. The contents of the magazine are strictly copyright, the property of Schofield Publishing, and may not be copied, stored in a retrieval system, or reproduced without the prior written permission of the publisher.


Contents 16 4 10 8 Features Warehousing Chain reaction


In this Q&A, UKWA CEO Peter Ward talks to Stephen Lawrence of iSec about the challenges faced by the food and drink sector

Waste Resource revolution


Technology is often seen as a threat, but in fact the right IT solutions can create huge opportunities if implemented properly


Trends The next frontier?


Canary Wharf has launched a sustainability campaign to address the issue of single use plastics, encouraging people to use reusable alternatives

As demand from consumers for more plant-based and meat-free foods continues to increase, manufacturers are creating more innovative products

Health & safety Showing the love

Beverages On the up


Food Tech Matters 2019


On 25-26 June the food tech community gets together for two days of panels, challenges, insight and to make valuable connections

Bakery trends Ones to watch


There are a number of consumer trends we can expect in 2019 – including increasing vegan options and the dawn of the doughnut

Exports Success story


In the last year alone, Welsh food and drink exports have gone up by 20 per cent, and it is important that businesses in this sector across Wales focus on raising their profile


The UK market for cider is buoyant, but customers are looking for innovation and individuality and producers need to respond

By investing in workplace health and safety your business can transform its working culture in ways that will empower and motivate staff


Disruptive technologies Getting personal

Supply chain Uncovering opportunities


Food and beverage manufacturers need to get started on creating a connected supply chain – Jeremy Hammant explains why

Dairy Safe and sealed


The impact that food safety has had on milk packaging worldwide and the importance of tamper evident seals



Up-to-date products and announcements from the food and beverage sector

Taste Test

The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drinks


36 41



48 Profiles

Innovations & developments within some of the world’s finest companies

Burts Chips




Holland & Barrett




Shell Shack


Belvoir Fruit Farms


Dodo Pizza


H&S Restaurants


Food & Moments Group


Fuller, Smith & Turner












Hand Picked Hotels


Thomas Tunnock


Pizza GoGo


Vale of Mowbray


Bidfood Baltics


The Ziegenfelder Company


Pickstock Telford


The Egg Free Cake box



Chain reaction The food and drinks supply chain has been under the spotlight recently and the sector is facing a testing time going forwards 4


he debate sparked by the possible impact of Brexit on food and drink supply chains prompted a surge in demand for warehouse space across the UK. However, long before the ‘B’ word was on everyone’s lips, UKWA was warning of a critical shortage of warehousing

space and in a detailed report – ‘Feeding London 2030: Meeting the logistical challenge’ – the association highlighted the mounting threats to urban distribution in the food and beverage sector. At the recent UKWA Feeding Cities Summit, UKWA CEO, Peter Ward, interviewed Stephen Lawrence, CEO of


iSec and asked him about some of the challenges facing the sector. PW: Can you outline for us what is currently happening in the food logistics chain in terms of goods coming into the UK through sea ports and air ports? SL: Dover handles 17 per cent of the

UK’s entire trade in goods, worth up to an estimated £122 billion last year. As Europe’s busiest ferry port, there remains no substitutable capacity elsewhere in the UK to handle these trade volumes. Currently, product is shipped from manufacturers into port or by

air, depending on product and next destination, goods are then cleared through veterinary and customs controlled and either stored at the port or transported for processing to a factory or inland storage facility until required for further processing/ consolidation, or to be shipped directly 5

to a retail distribution centre or to a foodservice distributor. Although the food supply chain is constantly evolving to become more efficient, the existing routes to market for both retail and foodservice do mean that costs are involved in terms of double handling, road miles and time taken for the goods to reach their final destination, thereby reducing shelf life.

PW: Is the current infrastructure capable of handling today’s and future volumes? SL: In simple terms, no, the changes in population and consumer requirements combined with the lack of high quality, well located and fit for purpose type of warehousing available in the UK is a big problem. According to the IGD, £46.2 billion worth of food is currently imported with £220 billion spent on food overall. The UK food and grocery market is forecast to grow by 15 per cent between now and 2022, so it is essential to constantly


Volumes are continuing to grow and I believe that within ten years London Gateway will be more significant than Felixstowe. More importantly, I see it becoming the main port for food imports

review, evaluate demand and make plans to accommodate future volumes. One example in the temperature controlled area is the acquisition of Yearsley by Lineage Logistics (an American company), which now makes them number one in the temperaturecontrolled storage sector with 520,000 pallet spaces and depots nationwide. As prices increase throughout the food industry, such as feed prices, transportation costs, energy rates and legislation, manufacturers will need to find alternative ways to reduce

costs as their customers - retailers and foodservice operators - will not accept price increases. The only way to achieve this is to reduce the number of ‘touches’ to a product as it passes along the supply chain. This means that the existing supply chain and its infrastructure will need to change and change quite drastically. In my opinion, the industry must review the existing infrastructure, looking at new and innovative ways to supply food to retail, manufacturing and foodservice in the future rather than follow existing routes to market. Supply chains must be as effective and efficient as possible, taking into account new technologies and making much more use of automation end-to-end. PW: How have you seen the supply chain changing in logistics, specifically for food and particularly for London? SL: There have been changes but these are generally tweaks to the existing

Warehousing structure. Going forward I believe we will see major change driven by market forces and increasing consumer demands. Supply chains for supermarkets were established in the 80s/90s and the food sector has been growing at huge rates, which the industry is unable to handle efficiently and currently there is no clear solution to fulfilling London’s needs. The key drivers for change include manufacturers wanting to own their supply chain just as they do in the nonfood sector and not be dominated by the supermarkets, as we saw last year with the Unilever and Marmite situation. The supermarkets are in disarray as a result of changing consumer habits - online shopping, eating out, and the growth of convenience stores. Logistics providers are striving to achieve more efficient distribution and reduce costs, despite restrictive legislation for delivery into London, 450,000 food outlets to service and, of course, the Brexit effect. We have a new deep-water port at DP World London Gateway which opened in 2016, with capacity to handle over four million TEU per annum and an adjacent site able to accommodate a new food cluster of 45 m automated buildings. The port is already at 1.5 million TEU per annum, with most of this volume being food. Volumes are continuing to grow and I believe that within ten years London Gateway will be more significant than Felixstowe. More importantly, I see it becoming the main port for food imports; with the changes to chill and Ro Ro and the issues facing Dover, London Gateway is likely to develop further to help overcome issues of cost, delivery and food security. PW: What other changes can you foresee in the food logistics sector? SL: I believe we will see the supply chain changing in the food sector to echo the non-food supply chain. For example, all major brands such as Proctor +Gamble, Unilever, McCains, Birds Eye, will supply direct. Therefore, they will manage their own their supply chains, rather than delivering into the supermarket chains and being at the mercy of retailers. The supermarkets are dinosaurs. They have a broken model, as most of them sold off their real estate for 25

years in the early 2000s. This gave big returns at the time, but now they have big problems which they don’t seem to be addressing and are hoping they can ride out until leases end. The big supermarkets are under pressure from the discounters, operating outdated logistics models and online. Why online? Sales to food services keep up prices to the supermarkets and keep down costs by clustering. The current per cent of online is limited to six per cent and is expected to rise by two per cent within five years. Although this seems small it is 33 per cent growth - the biggest issues are more about final delivery but with the development of a cluster and changes in delivery then this is set to grow dramatically. At present, retailers are pressuring their suppliers, but with the issues of Brexit and its possible impact on supply chains, I see a potential catastrophe; with exchange rates and harvest of 2018, prices on many goods could jump by up to 20 per cent, which would play into the hands of the discounters, online and manufacturers. The area of food services I think will be one of the quickest areas to change as their commitments are to 3Pls and not to the infrastructure of the retailers – the growth of the eating out experience in London since the early 90s is substantial. I see this area working within the cluster model. The situation with automation is changing too. Previously it has been challenging to introduce automation

into developments and delivery reliability and ROI, but this is now changing with the cost of labour increasing by around 30 per cent for warehouse workers and 80 per cent for drivers in the last three years. Automation has become more reliable as well as more relevant with the move away from traditional supermarkets. We have seen the impact of technology with Ocado at item level, but links to pallets and cases is now a ‘no brainer’. D UKWA’s Feeding London 2030 report provides a detailed analysis of many of the challenges discussed by Stephen Lawrence, to request your copy visit the UKWA website or email: Stephen Lawrence has worked in industrial /logistics real estate for over 20 years, both in the UK and Europe. Today he is CEO of iSec, which manages and owns real estate worth £750 million and has a gross development value of £1.25 billion. Since iSec ventured directly into the logistics industry in 2011 the company has built up an operating business with over 195,000 pallets and 2.25 million square feet of frozen pallet spaces in the UK. iSec is the largest frozen provider to the food manufacturing sector and is no. three overall. 7

Resource revolution

Breaking the plastic habit at Canary Wharf. By Martin Gettings



anary Wharf is a vibrant, thriving place, welcoming over 150,000 workers and visitors every day to its east London estate. Europe’s second largest financial district behind the nearby City of London, Canary Wharf has evolved over the past 15 years, becoming a destination in its own right for shopping, dining and entertainment with over 300 shops, bars and restaurants. This shift has turned Canary Wharf into a ‘microcity’, managed entirely by Canary Wharf Group (CWG), who sees this as a unique opportunity to explore circularity in a

dynamic urban setting, and to pilot new technologies and initiatives to create a truly sustainable community. CWG’s sustainability strategy ‘Making Sustainability Real’ was developed in 2016 with the goal of engaging with both tenants and visitors in a positive way, bringing sustainability to life across the Estate and highlighting the impacts that both an individual and an entire city can have. As part of this strategy, CWG developed the ‘Wake Up and Smell the Coffee’ campaign, aiming to address the nearly 5000 coffee cups that are disposed of every day on the Estate. By

Waste partnering with Simply Cups, the UK’s only coffee cup recycling company, and bio-bean, a clean technology company that turns coffee grounds into biofuels, CWG has created a closed loop ‘Clean Coffee Zone’. Since starting this campaign in 2017, 3.8 million coffee cups have been recycled and over 320 tonnes of coffee grounds have been diverted from landfill, effectively closing the loop on coffee at Canary Wharf. After the success of the ‘Wake Up and Smell the Coffee’ campaign, CWG took to the malls to ask the public which issues they wanted to see addressed next. Following a survey on World Environment Day 2017, the response was overwhelming; single use plastics were the top concern. In response, CWG developed ‘Breaking the Plastic Habit’, a 12-month programme designed to reduce usage of single use plastics at Canary Wharf. This programme has been designed to help Canary Wharf become the first commercial centre to achieve the Plastic Free Community accreditation run by marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage. The goal of the Breaking the Plastic Habit programme isn’t to set down rules and restrictions, but rather to encourage people to make the switch to reusable alternatives and to encourage bars, restaurants and shops to cut down on unnecessary single use plastics. A panel debate was hosted by CWG on World Environment Day 2018, with the aim of fostering conversation on how to tackle the problem of plastic pollution. Three key themes came out of the debate. The first was education, highlighting the need to improve the public’s understanding of waste management. The second was simplification, with many attendees pointing out that the current recycling infrastructure in the UK is confusing and complicated, and that many people feel it’s just easier to throw everything in the bin rather than recycling. The final theme to come out of the debate was collaboration, underlining the need for businesses to work together to come up with solutions rather than working against one another. Through an Estate-wide plastics audit, CWG identified the five mostused single use plastics: plastic bottles,

coffee cups, plastic straws, carrier bags and food service items such as cutlery. A series of campaigns have been targeting each one of these items individually, educating people about reusable alternatives and recycling options. In order to encourage people to carry reusable bottles, CWG has installed seven water refill stations in the shopping malls, resulting in over 66,000 bottles being refilled since their installation in September 2018. CWG has also installed the UK’s first publicly available Deposit Return Scheme in 2018, which has resulted in over 9000 bottles being recycled. According to behavioural science it takes three weeks to break a habit, which is why CWG launched the #3WEEKS campaign, during which they encouraged people to break their straw habit by ditching plastic straws. As a result of this campaign, 83 retailers at Canary Wharf have banned plastic straws, removing an estimated 1.2 million straws per year. With the aim of continued

collaboration, CWG recently partnered with tech start-up HELPFUL in launching a smartphone app to encourage reuse and recycling at Canary Wharf. By reusing and recycling items on the Estate, users can collect coins that can be redeemed for prizes including reusable water bottles, coffee cups and tote bags. The app has been extremely well received, and has seen over 2500 items reused or recycled in the two months since its launch. CWG is hopeful that its initiatives can spark a wider resource revolution in London. Steve Greig, co-managing director of Canary Wharf Management, says: “Going for Plastic Free Community accreditation with Surfers Against Sewage is our next step in the Breaking the Plastic Habit campaign, which is our framework to continue this longterm strategy, something we truly hope will become a part of Canary Wharf’s legacy. It is our dream that this project will change our incredible community, and its environment, in a credible and positive way.” D

Martin Gettings is Group Head of Sustainability at Canary Wharf Group plc. Canary Wharf Group plc has overseen the largest urban regeneration project ever undertaken in Europe, designing and building more than 16.5m sq. ft of London real estate, which now houses local and international companies and renowned retailers. 9

Showing the love How health and safety helps staff to feel cared for. By Kevin Rowe



o UK food and drink business can succeed without talented people on their team, and the very best talent can be hard to keep hold of when higher-profile or higher-paid roles are potentially available. As such, companies need to find other ways of ensuring their staff feel happy, motivated and committed to their work - and a strong policy on workplace health and safety can make a big difference. Many business owners regard health and safety as a regulatory necessity rather than a value-adding selling point, but the reality is that a diligent approach to safety can deliver tangible benefits to your working culture. It ensures that all members of staff feel cared for, valued and, by giving them important responsibilities, trusted.

As such, any company looking for a simple yet effective way to enhance morale and bolster staff loyalty should consider safer working practices to be a key focus area. It may not seem all that exciting on paper, but in practice, there are few better ways to show your staff the love they deserve.

The importance of health and safety in food and drink production Work in food and drink production can be seriously hazardous - especially for those involved in the more industrialised methods of food manufacturing. Data collated by the Health and Safety Executive show that the overall injury rate for the sector has dropped by over 50 per cent since 1990-91 - but even so, this line of work still accounts

Health & safety for one-quarter of all manufacturing injuries, with the overall injury rate remaining higher than the average for manufacturing industries in general. Standard commercial kitchens are filled with items and equipment that can easily cause serious physical harm to staff members, including sharp blades, boiling liquids, hightemperature cooking appliances and raw foodstuffs carrying harmful bacteria. When also taking into account the high-speed industrial machinery used in large-scale food production, it becomes clear just how many risks food-service workers have to encounter on a daily basis. Moreover, the fast-paced, highpressure nature of food production and the focus on efficient service can exacerbate the risk of mistakes, resulting in injuries to staff members, or - just as seriously - health hazards being created for customers. This is why health and safety plays such an important role in creating a caring work culture.

The impact of health and safety on staff By investing in workplace health and safety, your business can transform its working culture in ways that will empower and motivate staff. Here are just some of the benefits this can deliver: Reduced rates of injury and illness The key function of health and safety protocols is to prevent staff from getting injured or falling ill as a result of their work. Working in an environment where staff are aware there are protocols in place to reduce the risk of slips, trips, burns or lacerations will inevitably create a happier professional environment and greater morale. Reduced rate of absences By taking steps to keep your staff healthy, you can reduce the number of absences in your workplace, which will help to improve productivity and reduce disruption. After all, unplanned absences create additional pressure and workloads for everyone in your organisation, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to avoid them.

Better results for your business Keeping everyone healthy and working efficiently isn’t just its own reward - it can deliver significant bottom-line benefits for the whole organisation, allowing your staff to focus on delivering higher-quality work and contribute more actively to the company’s success. This allows your business to achieve greater profitability, from which every member of staff can ultimately benefit. A better reputation Becoming known as a workplace that’s committed to health and safety is a highly desirable status that’s hard to attain and easy to lose. If you can demonstrate this, you’ll be in a great position to retain your existing workers and attract the very best talent from elsewhere, which will help generate even more success.

Steps you can take to improve With these significant benefits in mind, improving health and safety should be seen as a top priority for any ambitious organisation in the food and drinks industry. You can get this process started with a few basic steps: Conduct a risk assessment First of all, you should conduct a risk assessment exercise to determine potential hazards within your working processes, analyse the kind of harm they could cause, and identify appropriate ways to either eliminate or control these risks. This process should be comprehensive and honest admitting that problems exist is the first step to solving them. Develop a solid plan of action Once the risks have been identified, you’ll need to put together a wide-ranging health and safety strategy that accounts for every foreseeable danger and gives staff a means to mitigating them. Ad hoc solutions only create confusion and inconsistency, so make sure this plan accounts for as many eventualities as you can reasonably predict. Invest in the equipment you need Some health and safety risks can’t be

controlled with behavioural changes alone. If you need to invest in safety clothing and equipment such as signage, first aid kits and spill control products, then don’t be reluctant to do so - after all, the long-term benefits of a safe working environment will greatly outweigh these short-term costs. Empower your staff to manage their own safety An effective health and safety policy cannot be dictated from the top down; staff need to feel empowered to get involved in shifting behaviour in a way that’s safer for everyone. By delegating responsibility for implementing safety policies and offering regular training, the whole team will feel they are part of the change, resulting in a more measurable improvement in wellbeing. Monitor your progress regularly Improving health and safety isn’t a one-off fix. For any progress you make to stick, you’ll need to regularly monitor the performance of your new safety protocols, analyse the reasons for any accidents that do still occur, and ensure that your policies are updated regularly to align with changes in your working practices and staffing needs. By making the effort to improve your health and safety performance and spending money in the right places, food and drink companies can make a noticeable difference to the wellbeing and happiness of their prized employees - a quality that will not go unappreciated in this competitive, fast-paced marketplace. D Kevin Rowe is Managing Director at SafetyBuyer. Safety Buyer is one of the UK’s leading providers of safety solutions to health & safety and facilities management professionals, specialising in PPE, safety signage, floor safety, first aid and COSHH and spill control products. Established in 2012, Safety Buyer is run by brothers Ian and Kevin who have over 40 combined years in the industry, making them experts on all things safety related. 11


25 – 26 June 2019 25-26 June 2019 Tobacco Dock, London

The Crystal, London

Connecting global brands and investors with the most disruptive start-ups in food tech Leading investors Global food brands Exciting food tech start-ups

Top speakers 1-2-1 meetings


Food Tech Matters 2019


echnology is proving to be a game-changer in defining the future of sustainable food, and the fast-paced food tech scene has certainly pricked the ears of business savvy investors. Food Tech Matters -the innovation meet-up in London next month is quickly approaching and offers an unmissable opportunity for the world’s best food tech entrepreneurs to meet and secure business with global food leaders and an impressive line-up of investors looking for the newest, most innovative technologies set to change the future of food as we know it. Whether you’re a start-up looking for investment or a food and drink corporation, this is an innovation meet-up you won’t want to miss. Taking place on 25-26 June, the two-day meet-up has attracted some of the biggest names in the industry, keen to get a slice of the pie in such a thriving industry. Amongst those attending include:

s Costa

Start-ups looking for investment, to scale up their solutions and bring them to the mass market will gain access to market leaders and investors and be able to connect on a 1-2-1 basis in a relaxed environment. The fast paced agenda offers insight into key areas of innovation and features some of the most successful innovators to date. Amongst those attending are recently publicised disruptors who are taking the industry by storm including Winnow Solutions, The Small Robot Company and Protifarm. Entrepreneurs will gain inspiration from a fantastic startup speaker line-up including Zina Mavroedi, CEO, E-Fresh who just reached the top 40 under 40 list for Fortune magazine 2019. View the start-up line-up: startups/ Top industry speakers from well known food brand and some of the most active food tech investors will

For further information: Chris Ngugi - Food Tech Matters T: +44 (0) 20 3735 5312 T: +44 (0) 7983 422 041

Coffee s Microsoft s Nestlé s Five Seasons Ventures s Danone

s Draper

Esprit s BiTHOUSE GROUP s Seedrs s Anterra Capital s HSBC

s Sainsbury’s s Future s Cape

discuss innovation strategies, food tech trends, protein alternatives to meat, AI and robotics solutions, Agri-tech, food waste tech, personalised nutrition and much more. View the programme: programme-2/ Join the gathering of major food players, investors and talent behind the tech solutions of tomorrow’s food and be part of the conversations powering the future of the industry. More information and to secure your place:

Food Network s Pepsico Unilever s Barclays

Capital s Doehler Ventures s ETF Partners s Octopus Ventures

s Ferrero s Virgin

Management s Piper PE LLP s Bowman Ingredients 13

Ones to watch

Jane Olney discusses the consumer trends we can expect to witness in 2019 and how operators can respond to them


his year is already shaping up to be interesting for the bakery industry; Public Health England’s 2020 target to reduce sugar contents by 20 per cent is drawing closer, and the consistent rise in vegan diners continues to reshape the industry.

Continued growth for vegan options In 2018, the number of vegan dishes appearing on menus increased by 237 per cent with the trend set to rise further next year. Vegan dishes have started to appear across all meal times for both savoury and sweet options. Whilst mains and desserts achieved the most significant


increases, 2019 is the year for operators to look to bolster their vegan options at breakfast by using meat and dairy alternatives to pair with bakery products - for example, vegan sausage sandwiches. This growth has been partly attributed to menus labelling certain foods, such as bread and French fries, as vegan. Whilst these products are vegan by default, providing clarity on menus has had a positive impact on sales as diners feel that they’re making more informed decisions. This gives operators an opportunity to alter their menus to include this additional information, thereby alerting diners to the number of vegan options available on the menu.

Bakery trends

The dawn of doughnuts Diners are searching for a new trend to satisfy their sweet cravings and research from Kara tips doughnuts as being the next big thing, which is hardly surprising given the versatile nature of the sweet treat. Not only is there an opportunity for operators to offer some of the crowdpleasing flavours and fillings such as chocolate, jam and vanilla there are also options to branch out into more speciality, mini options. Mini doughnuts are making their way into the mainstream, with the desire to indulge in just a few mouthfuls.

Bread In the past, bolder bread options such as activated charcoal buns and bases

were extremely popular amongst diners and gave establishments a unique selling point that set them apart from their competitors. However, the past year has seen popularity in these products decline as diners are looking for more flavourful, nutritional options that give a more ‘rustic’ look to their plates. Options such as brioche and sourdough are going to retain their

popularity amongst diners, for the foreseeable future. Being a more artisan product, operators have the opportunity to increase their profits by offering these options as part of their menus. We’ll also see more variations of these products such as veganfriendly brioche begin to emerge as diners look for flavour-packed buns and loaves that bring further nutritional benefits. D

Jane Olney is Commercial Director at Kara. Kara provides fresh, frozen baked goods to the foodservice sector. Being famous for floured baps since 1985, Kara produces a range of mouth-watering sweet and savoury baked products and focuses on the latest consumer trends to enable its foodservice customers to stay ahead of the game. 15



Success story Andy Richardson shines a light on Wales’ exporting accomplishments economy, this bodes well for further growth in this sector in the future.

Raising the profile

Andy Richardson


n 2017 the value of Welsh food and drink exports hit £527 million for the first time – a figure representative of a country definitely punching above its weight compared to the rest of the UK. While two thirds of such exports were destined for the EU, overseas markets outside of Europe include the United Arab Emirates, the USA and South Korea. In the last year alone, Welsh food and drink exports have gone up by 20 per cent - this is compared to a 9.5 per cent increase for the UK as a whole over the same period. While increased trade deals to the Middle East and North Africa have contributed to this substantial growth, there are a number of key products driving this growth. Increasing global opportunities are paving the way for export growth across Wales. In January this year Japan opened its door to UK imports of lamb and beef for the first time in 20 years. This followed the same decision on beef imports announced by China last year. As red meat is a hugely valuable exporting asset for Wales, worth £180m a year to the Welsh

Another key ingredient in food and drink export growth has been Welsh Government’s focus on driving Wales’ global profile. Part of this approach has included the creation of Blas Cymru / Taste Wales, an international food and drink event, which brings together producers, buyers and food industry professionals. Delegates and buyers travel to the event from across Europe, the US, Middle East and as far a field as Japan to discover innovative Welsh produce, network with industry professionals and potentially explore future trade deals. This year’s event took place on March 20 and 21 at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport where key speakers included Claus Meyer of Noma and Nordic Food movement fame as well as former Innocent Smoothies brand guru Tansy Drake.

In order to prepare for the tumultuous times ahead, it is crucial businesses across Wales’ food and drink industry focus on raising their international profile and have the resource, support and capacity in place to maximise exporting growth opportunities like industry awards, Taste Wales and trade missions The concept of inviting the world to see all Wales has to offer is testament to the strength of Welsh produce and the confidence demonstrated by producers and industry representatives alike.

While high profile items include the aforementioned Welsh Lamb as well as Pembrokeshire Potatoes (both of which have been awarded protected designation of origin status by the European Union) there are a number of other Welsh products sharing shelf space in kitchens across the world. Halen Môn, the famous Welsh sea salt made from pure Anglesey saltwater, is used in professional kitchens around the world and has even been enjoyed by Barack Obama.

Food and drink identity In Caerphilly, South Wales, Hallets Real Cider is securing export success on the back of a season of industry award wins, including the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Award for Best Drinks Producer. The husband and wife duo behind Hallets now export to Scandinavia, Russia, Holland, Hongkong and Canada. Newport based craft brewery, Tiny Rebel, which only launched its first products back in 2012, is now exporting to over 35 countries and customers can be found in Brazil, Australia and Singapore among others. Wales’ strong food and drink identity has been another key factor in retail growth – both in and outside of the UK. The country has a well-deserved reputation for producing fresh and natural produce and a recent report - The Value of Welshness Report highlighted that UK based consumers are looking for an increase in the amount of Welsh stock on supermarket shelves. Although the findings do not represent overseas shoppers at this point in time, similar consumer attitudes abroad could lead to a similar trend for Welsh goods outside of the UK going forward. With this in mind, Welsh food and drink producers keen 17


to explore a future in exporting should consider that a visible Welsh identity within product branding could be a very valuable asset in the future.

Trade missions While the success and ambitions of Welsh exports can’t be overlooked, it’s hard not to consider the potential impact of future events on Wales’ booming export trade. The EU remains Wales’ most significant export destination which highlights even further the looming threat a hard Brexit poses to the Welsh economy. Two thirds of all Welsh exports make their way to the European Union. From a food and drink perspective, 93 per cent of all Welsh meat exported went to the EU, similarly 94 per cent of dairy products and eggs made their way to the EU. But the soaring interest in exports outside of the EU is an encouraging


prospect in these potentially worrying times. Up to ten percent of the Welsh Lamb that’s consumed in overseas markets outside of the EU is eaten in Switzerland, Canada the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. Areas of growth within the industry including alcohol free beer, craft ales and free-from products offer another avenue to explore in these new markets outside of the EU. Trade missions organised by Welsh Government in key markets including Ireland, Canada and the United Arab Emirates have been part of the plan to reach previously underrepresented markets. Going forward, it’s vital producers across Wales seek out these types of opportunities to explore such markets when possible. In order to prepare for the tumultuous times ahead, it is crucial businesses across Wales’ food and

drink industry focus on raising their international profile and have the resource, support and capacity in place to maximise exporting growth opportunities like industry awards, Taste Wales and trade missions. D

Andy Richardson is the Chair of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board, which was set up in 2015. They are the voice of industry in Wales and work collaboratively with the Welsh Government to deliver ‘Towards Sustainable Growth: An Action Plan for the Food and Drink Industry 2014-2020’. The board hold regular engagement events with industry, have held a number of highly successful conferences, delivered a skills plan for the sector and worked to develop finance and marketing capability. The board is made up from industry experts with real food and drink experience. food-and-drink-industry-board

IndustryNews Fancy a cocktail? May saw The Collective launch its Limited

creamy desiccated coconut, not forgetting, a

Edition Piña Colada gourmet live yoghurt, the

touch of Jamaican white rum.

first in its line-up of cocktail-inspired flavours

Amelia Harvey, Co-Founder of The

that form part of its new ‘Happy Hour’

Collective says: “Happy Hour epitomises


what we’re all about as a brand; combining

The first flavour in the series, The

our award-winning taste with a ‘feel good’

Collective’s Limited Edition Pina Colada

campaign that will sure put a smile to

combines the brand’s signature thick ‘n’

consumers’ faces as we bring their ideal

creamy gourmet yoghurt with two layers of the

happy hours to life in homes and offices alike

most irresistible sweet, juicy pineapple and

with our fun social media campaign.”

Leicester-based Cofresh Snack Foods has

company’s total production and warehousing

Leicester, while the site itself is perfect for our

acquired an additional food production and

‘footprint’ to just under 400,000 sq ft.

immediate needs and offers great potential for

Super snacks warehousing facility to cater for significant

Cofresh Snack Foods has manufactured

growth and expansion. An investment

traditional and authentic Indian snacks in

of approximately £20m over the next 18

Leicester since 1974 - including ‘the nation’s

months will enable Cofresh to split its snack

favourite’ Bombay Mix - and is now the UK’s

production between two sites and increase

Number One Indian snack brand. In 2015, it

annual turnover to more than £100m.

launched the healthier snacking brand Eat Real

The company’s current site in Menzies

in response to the growing demand for ‘free

Road, Leicester, will continue to specialise

from’ and vegan snacks, which now include

in traditional Indian snacks while the

the popular Hummus, Lentil and Quinoa Chips,

new facility, on a seven-acre site at the

Quinoa Puffs and Veggie Straws.

Attleborough Fields Industrial Estate,

our ambitious business growth.”

“We’re delighted to be taking this hugely

Nuneaton, will be dedicated to the

significant step in the development of our

manufacture of its Eat Real ‘healthier

business,” commented Cofresh Managing

snacking’ brand to cater for the growing

Director Priyesh Patel. “Nuneaton’s central

demand for free from snacks. Cofresh is

location is well-placed for our customer base

planning to extend its Nuneaton site from

and offers a great infrastructure and easy

140,000 to 180,000 sq ft, bringing the

access from our primary location in nearby

A pizza more production Dr. Oetker UK is celebrating a decade of

to the UK business and the future of pizza

members and representatives from the

producing the nation’s favourite frozen pizza

manufacturing in our Leyland facility.

department of Trade and Industry and the

brands in the UK with the completion of a

“We are very grateful to the South Ribble

£30m capital investment programme. New

Council and support of the local community

German Embassy in the UK.

production capabilities at the Leyland facility

without whom our expansion would not have

Lane facility throughout the last ten years has

means that the capacity potential has doubled

been possible.”

resulted in more job opportunities and has

The continued investment in the Moss

and demonstrates the businesses commitment

The facility, which produces the Nation’s

to maintaining its manufacturing base in the UK.

favourite pizza brands Chicago Town and Dr.

440 people.

Oetker Ristorante for the UK and international

Speaking about the investment, Georg Heerdegen Pasbo, Managing Director at Dr.

markets, has increased total capacity with

Oetker UK said: “Dr. Oetker is incredibly

the introduction of a new production line for

proud of our world-class facility and our new

its popular Chicago Town Deep Dish pizzas,

investment means we can continue to meet

new raw materials storage capacity and

the demands for our great tasting pizzas

new technology which results in faster and

both here in the UK and overseas. The Dr.

more efficient freezing. The new line was

Oetker philosophy of ‘Quality is the Best

officially opened on 08 May 2019 by the

Recipe’ is at the heart of the business and our

Mayor of South Ribble, Cllr John Rainsbury

investment demonstrates a clear commitment

and attended by Dr. Oetker Executive board

seen the business swell numbers from 360 to 19

Getting personal

With the food and hospitality industry facing all sorts of challenges in terms of costs, profit margins and increased competition, we analyse how technology is all too often seen as another threat when it can in fact create huge opportunities 20


rganisations across many industries, from finance to retail and education to entertainment, are using technology to respond to threats, improve operations and create access into new markets. The food industry is no different. Restaurants face huge pressure. Back against the wall by rising costs, increased competition and a slowdown in consumer spending the number

of eateries in the UK shutting their doors every 12 months has doubled in the past eight years. According to accountancy firm Moore Stephens the 2017/18 financial year saw 1219 insolvencies, 24 per cent more than the preceding year, and double the figure from 2010/11. Though independent establishments bore the brunt, big names and chains were by no means immune. Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo and Gourmet Burger

Disruptive technologies

Kitchen have all been forced to close branches, and even Pizza Express has been the subject of speculation since the turn of the year. But even the companies that are financially stable can’t escape the other problems prevailing across the industry. Restaurants are finding it harder than ever to attract, and retain, top talent. Add to all this the challenges surrounding the demand from consumers for ever more diverse diet, as

well as the abundance of allergies, the perils of food waste and so much more, you might be forgiven for thinking that everything was all doom and gloom in the world of food right now. But it is not. It’s an incredibly exhilarating time – people continue to get excited by food so combine this love of food with the right tech and just see what happens. New breakthroughs will be a positive thing for the industry, not a hurdle to overcome.

In such a crowded marketplace, catering to an ever more demanding clientele, data is king. The eateries that have more information about demand, preferences and timings will have a head start over those stuck in the past. The data and insight they have allows them to tailor the experience of their customers, providing a personalised experience for every single individual. Vita Mojo is a fantastic example – it was founded just three years ago, but 21

is already making waves in London’s dining scene. The company offers an online menu which allows customers to view their food options and put together a meal which suits their needs and tastes. They can then collect the food at a time which works for them. If you’re not convinced that there is a demand for this sort of service then consider that 92 per cent of the meals Vita Mojo provide are now personalised and that 45 per cent of them are preordered online.

Useful data

and an improved ability to personalise its marketing. As is so often the case a relatively simple idea has provided businesses with a mountain of useful data which has allowed them to make their offering not just more efficient, but more effective. The more data you have, the better decisions you are able to make and this leads to reduced costs and increased impact. Vita Mojo is able to make a meal in 45 seconds on average

The Vita Mojo team has also just launched the Vita Mojo Operating System for other restaurants to use and it’s already been rolled out across an additional 40 sites. The technology has provided businesses with numerous benefits including better workforce planning, improved throughput and customer experience, a reduction in food waste, more accurate forecasting


Unlike many in the sector Lexington Catering recognises the importance of embracing new technology, not shying away from it. The team is working closely with organisations like MOTHER and Vita Mojo to tap into the latest tech to improve operations and customer experience

which allows for throughput of 360 meals an hour. It isn’t just restaurants that will benefit from improved technology however. Other methods of getting food into customer’s hands will as well, none more so than vending. The very nature of vending is now changing before our eyes. Reverse vending machines (devices that accept empty containers and packaging and return money to the user) are already making headway and more traditional machines are becoming ever more sophisticated. Again, the importance of data cannot be understated. Modern vending machines, such as those provided by MOTHER, another innovative company based in the capital, are revolutionising the vending industry. MOTHER has developed the tech to be able to stock fresh, quality, ingredients, remote vend, have the intelligence to know when to restock, report on what sells and provide feedback on overall service.

Disruptive technologies Tap into technology Where vending used to be simply transactional, MOTHER is making it a much more interactive process. Customers want, and are getting, pictures of fresh food, access to full nutritional information before they buy and a whole new level of transparency at their fingertips. When people are more concerned than ever about what they are putting into their bodies, MOTHER is making the process as simple and complete as possible. Companies such as Vita Mojo and MOTHER are helping lead the food industry into the future with their innovative tech, and that is why the more innovative and intuitive catering companies are now making sure to work with them. Lexington Catering is one of the leading contract caters in London, providing everything from small café style to restaurants, fine dining and events. Unlike many in the sector

Lexington Catering recognises the importance of embracing new technology, not shying away from it. The team is working closely with organisations like MOTHER and Vita Mojo to tap into the latest tech to improve operations and customer experience. In fact, the team has incorporated the Vita Mojo Operating System and MOTHER’s vending machines into its offer and the tech is working across a number of its client sites, including Virgin Active and a couple of leading law firms. Whilst Lexington offers the traditional catering solution the team recognises the need to integrate tech solutions – vending still has a place and it works with MOTHER to make it an extension of the Lexington offer, sometimes incorporating its own products – it is there 24/7. Julia Edmonds, Managing Director at Lexington says: “As a business we pride ourselves on providing fabulous food and service. We know millennials see technology as part of the dining experience and therefore our focus has been to blend great hospitality with technology - this means partnering with the very best tech-based companies.” It is through attitudes and relationships like this that the restaurant and catering industry of the future will emerge. The reality in today’s marketplace is that data is king and those organisations that are tapping

into technology and software to provide a personalised service/experience are the ones that are set to thrive. D Vita Mojo OS Vita Mojo OS is a software company revolutionising the hospitality industry. Its cloudbased operating system helps restaurant owners, operators and managers transform their customer experience, operations and data.

Lexington Catering Lexington work with organisations to support them in providing 5* food and service to people at work. It is passionate about creating the best hospitality and guest experience for customers and clients. www.lexingtoncatering. london

Mother Launched in 2014, Mother builds ground-breaking vending machines to make it easy for clients and customers. Mother uses bespoke technology to produce a streamlined and interactive experience for customers. 23

The next frontier? Eric Woods discusses the surge in consumer demand for plantbased meat free products and how seafood-alternatives will be the next frontier in vegan and plant-based food Eric Woods



here has never been more of a demand for plant-based products. With the UK plant-based market valued at £443m in 2018 it is fast becoming one of the leaders in meat and dairy alternatives. As Veganism hits mainstream retailers, boosted by initiatives like ‘Veganuary’ and ‘Meat-free Monday’, even meat eaters are now reducing their

animal protein intake and consumption of animal by-products. As more and more consumers wake up to the impact their diets can have on both health and the environment, meat-free alternatives and dairy-free alternatives have driven the rise in flexitarian and plant-based lifestyles. Both meat-free and dairy-free options have already been firmly placed in the shopping baskets of mindful consumers


more than half stating that being better for the world’s oceans is a key driver. Through a combination of consumers being willing to step further out of their meat-eating comfort zones and becoming aware of overfishing and concerns associated with fish farms, plant-based seafood alternatives are looking to be a lucrative investment for retailers.

Embracing the trends

and as the demand for plant-based products grows, so does the variety available. If new products entering the market are anything to go by, fish-free products are set the be the next big thing for 2019. In a consumer research survey commissioned by Loma Linda and carried out by Omnisis, more than 80 per cent of non-meat-eaters, and 75 per cent of meat eaters showed interest in purchasing fish free products, with

According to Mintel, in 2018, one in six food product launches had a vegan or animal-free recipe claim, more than double from 2015. With more products available than ever before, retailers need to make sure they keep up with and more importantly differentiate themselves from the competition to avoid falling into the abyss of plantbased product launches. In February, supermarket Sainsburys made a bold move, signifying the scale of demand for plant-based foods. With a keen eye on its shoppers’ preferences, Sainsburys cleverly built on findings from a London School of Economics experiment which saw restaurant sales of vegetarian items double when moved from the vegetarian section to the main menu. The supermarket recently replicated this, announcing a new meat-alternative section in its meat, fish and poultry aisles, a first for UK supermarkets and a significant move for suppliers of meat and fish alternatives.

But the position of the product in grocery stores doesn’t automatically mean consumers will buy it, with more brands bringing plant-based products to the market, newcomers and disrupter brands, need to show they are new, innovative and forward thinking, ensuring they remain relevant, fresh and exciting. When meat alternatives first started to gain popularity, consumers wanted straight forward meat replacements such as vegetarian bacon or chicken pieces, but with more options now becoming available, meat-free food trends are diversifying to offer more exciting options. Last year saw new products come to the market that highlight this trend such as the M&S Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Sausage, Quorn’s new Spinach and Red Pepper Slices and not forgetting Gregg’s vegan sausage rolls. As with meat alternatives, seafood alternatives are likely to go through a similar process and we predict these types of products will be the next frontier in vegan and ‘free-from’ foods, with many retailers likely to invest in new bringing new plant-based seafood products to their consumers.

Ethical consumers and environmental concerns There is no doubt that there is a direct correlation in the demand for meat alternatives with the increased 25


awareness of animal agriculture’s environmental footprint. This focus on environmental concerns is even more prevalent when it comes to seafood. It is well documented that 90 per cent of global fish stocks are either over fished or fully depleted and it is this narrative, which has driven the race to find a suitable plant-based seafood alternative which is good for the environment, nutritious and tastes as close as possible to the real thing. Oceans serve as the planets largest source of protein and are accountable for around 40 per cent of animal products consumed. With stocks rapidly depleting, factory-farmed fish first emerged as more sustainable option but consumers are now realising that reducing fish consumption all together, can be better for the environment. Costly and time-consuming farmed fish is no longer good enough for the ethical consumer who wants to stay away from this animal product all together. It’s now up to retailers to offer more alternatives that address overfishing, as well as meeting the demand from non-meat-eaters who


enjoy the taste and texture of fish products.

Bringing the next frontier to market Innovation in plant-based products give people more choice without having to compromise on taste and nutrients. As we’ve seen, the next frontier for plant-based products will be seafood alternatives. Vegan seafood has been an untapped market until now, but with products such as Loma Linda’s plant-based TUNO coming to the market, it will help drive further adoption of the vegan lifestyle and help challenge conceptions on meat and fish consumption, showing you don’t need these to have a rich, nutrient dense diet. TUNO has been carefully created with the ethical consumer and environmental sustainability in mind. Working in collaboration with seafood industry experts from around the world to help address the growing crisis of global fish stocks being overfished and depleted, TUNO offers a delicious and ocean safe product that tastes similar to real tuna while providing its versatility in a more sustainable form.

Demand for TUNO in the US has been high, with top retailers listing the products in store and the brand hopes to replicate this success as it launches in the UK later this year.

A final thought…. The adoption of plant-based diets is only going to grow, so plant-based products need to be a key part of retailer’s buying and marketing strategies, ensuring their range is diverse, fresh and backed up with quality ingredients, ready to meet increasing consumer demand. D Eric Woods is Managing Director at Worldwide Food Associates (WFA), a progressive, innovative importer and distributor that successfully launches and develops FMCG brands in the highly competitive UK and European retail markets. WFA works with brands such as Street Kitchen, Passage Foods and Celebrate Health and is bringing US brand Loma Linda’s seafood alternative TUNO to market in the UK in 2019.

IndustryNews Getting fresh Estrella Damm, the Mediterranean beer of

and collaborations with local and specialist

Barcelona, has unveiled its second ‘Estrella

suppliers. In a climate of uncertainty,

Perfectly botanical

Damm Food & Drinks Trends Report’. This

innovation and so many options to choose

The Italian Beverage Company (IBC)

year, 11 leading chefs from UK gastropubs

from, it’s interesting to see that the UK food

is tapping into the botanical trend

– the sector thriving and leading the way

lovers continue to champion localness,

with new garden themed Simply

in the on-trade – have collaborated with

provenance, seasonality and sustainability in

Syrups which inject a pop of fragrant

Brand Positive to provide insight into

their restaurant and menu choices.”

flavour across the seasonal drinks’

current food and drinks trends. The result

menu. The company encourages its clients

is a comprehensive 20-page document that showcases a growing movement of

to get creative with the all new Rose,

‘FRESH’ consumers – the next generation of

Elderflower, Rhubarb and Violet

customers that restaurants should look at to

Simply Syrups and bring a splash

help ensure success.

of the English countryside to chilled drinks such as lemonades, frappes,

The key trends that underpin the ‘FRESH’ consumer movement are: Consumer

shakes and smoothies. The Syrups

demands including health, Ethics &

also work exceptionally well with

Sustainability, Buying British & Regionality

gins, prosecco and other spirits and

and Local Sourcing. Other notable areas of

cocktails. According to Ricky Flax, general

interest included the increase of low and no-alcohol drinks, casual dining, supporting

manager, IBC: “The popularity of

the local sourcing movement to counteract

botanical flavours has seen a real

Brexit uncertainty and the use of traditional,

spike over the last two years with

classic cooking techniques.

growth of 150 per cent and we expect further traction through 2019.

James Healey, UK Country Manager for Estrella Damm, said: “This year’s ‘Estrella

Our new Syrups will help operators

Damm Food & Drink Trends Report’ has

capitalise on this trend with a versatile

unveiled an exciting future for gastronomy

range of flavours with great consumer

in the UK with the growth of ‘FRESH’ food

appeal and work across all drink

lovers, who are showing greater interest in

categories day and night.” IBC recommend adding a single

bespoke, on-demand sourcing of ingredients

shot of Simply syrup to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to create an


authentic subtle flavor and continuing

British brand YAAR has launched the UK’s

to secure a share of the handheld dairy

the botanical theme by dressing the

first range of chilled quark bars. Each

snacking, which is currently in its infancy.

beverage with fresh herbs, fruit and

one delivers all the goodness of dairy in a

Andrei Garbuz, Founder of YAAR bar

handheld snack and require absolutely no

says: “With the introduction of the UK’s first

spooning. There are three editions in the

quark bars, we are creating a new category

range. Two are launching into Sainsbury’s

and offering spoon-free dairy snacking

(Cloudberry and Vanilla) and all three have

on-the-go in an accessible, convenient and

secured a listing at Whole Foods Market

tasty format. The launch into Sainsbury’s

(Cloudberry, Vanilla and Toffee), RRP from

and Whole Foods Market, along with

99p per bar. Each bar is made of quark and

investment from Aser, brings us a step

coated in either a Belgian milk chocolate,

closer to achieving our mission of bringing

caramel or toffee glaze. The smooth centre

the delicious goodness of dairy to everyday

has a thick and creamy taste like yoghurt

handheld snacking.”

and the texture of a cheesecake.

edible flowers.

YAAR is backed by Aser, an investment company in sports, lifestyle and entertainment, which includes Leeds United and Eleven Sports in its diverse portfolio. Its quark bars, which are less than 140 calories, gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and have no artificial colours, additives or preservatives, will allow the business 27

On the up

With the UK market for cider the largest both globally and across Europe, the scope for innovation is great, but so is the need for individuality



ounded by brothers Ben and Will Filby in 2010, The Garden Cider Company, based at Mill House Farm in Chiddingfold, Surrey, produces handcrafted premium ciders sourced entirely from locally sourced, donated apples. The business relies on garden fruit donations from over 4000 households who bring their spare fruit in return for a share of the cider, which they receive for free. In this way, they are able to take an abundant, largely wasted natural resource and turn it into a sustainable, ethical, quality product. Will said: “The cider market is incredibly buoyant at the moment which is great news, but what’s particularly encouraging for us is that we have noticed an increasing demand for drinks with local provenance and a story to

tell, which our ciders most certainly have; around 80 per cent of our apple donations come from within 20 or so miles of the farm, from Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. Sustainability is a key pillar of our approach to cider making and there is growing support and recognition for this from consumers and retailers alike.” He added: “There is a great tradition of cider making in the UK and we are passionate about reviving this. It is clear that not all ciders are equal and there is a lively debate in our category at the moment over what constitutes real cider, however, it is generally agreed that real cider must be made from 90 per cent real apple juice. This is being headed by organisations like the Small Independent Cidermakers’ Association and CAMRA’s Real Cider and Perry committee.

Beverages “The emphasis on natural, authentic ingredients fits with the premiumisation of the drinks market. This movement is helping to change the image of cider. Unlike wine and beer, cider lacks long-established styles and categories, which have helped people promote and understand these drinks. This has been one of the greatest challenges for cider, however with the UK’s first pommeliers being accredited by the Beer and Cider Academy in September 2018, and an increasing number of new brands on the cider scene, it is an exciting time for us and shows that cider is a product to be taken seriously.” Recognising the increasing popularity of fruit-flavoured ciders, the brothers added a blueberry variant to their existing range last year, joining the existing line-up of: Original, Dry Hopped, Elderflower, Plum & Ginger, Wild Strawberry and Raspberry & Rhubarb. Ben said: “Flavoured ciders remain the driving force in the market. Plum and Ginger, Raspberry and Rhubarb and Elderflower have always performed well and Wild Strawberry is growing quickly too, so last year we decided to add a blueberry cider to the range. It’s a bold flavour and the sharpness of the blueberries works really well with cider. Also, as an English garden fruit, it fits nicely with our brand. We’re also developing a new fruit flavour which will be launched in the summer, so watch this space!” 2019 has been pegged as the year for the low and no-alcohol category and Ben and Will are aware of the opportunities for cider that the growth in this market presents. The development of modern methods for removing alcohol from beverages, such as the use of reverse osmosis, vacuum distillation, preventing fermentation or sourcing apples with a naturally lower sugar content are all helping producers create healthier products while also ensuring flavour is preserved. Ben said: “Customers are definitely becoming more aware and conscious of the amount of alcohol they are consuming and, interestingly, we have found that some people are turning to cider due to its lower ABV, which is typically between four and five per cent.”

When it comes to deciding which types of cider to serve, the brothers are in agreement that both draught and bottled ciders should be represented on the bar, though they caution that bartenders should be careful to avoid duplication of flavours as that could lead to wastage. As producers of bottled ciders, Will and Ben give this advice: “Bottled cider is easier to store than draught so if you are looking to extend your range, or perhaps try out some new flavours, bottled is the way to go. It’s also a much quicker and easier serve for bar staff, which can reduce waiting times and have an impact on profitability during busy periods. That said, it’s important not to over-stock the fridge, as a cluttered display will confuse customers and could impact on sales, so make sure there is sufficient space to display your range clearly.” D

The Garden Cider Company was created in 2010 by Will and Ben Filby. The idea is simple, it makes a range of hand crafted premium ciders sourced entirely from local, donated garden apples. 29



Jeremy Hammant

Jeremy Hammant takes a look at the connected supply chain and advises food and beverage manufacturers to get started on this process sooner rather than later 30


orldwide spending on technologies and services that enable digital transformation is forecast to reach $1.97 trillion in 2022, according to a market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). Does this mean that we are at the dawn of a ‘digital revolution’ or is digital technology just an enabler of a continuing evolutionary improvement in supply chain performance? For businesses operating in the food supply chain the answer is probably the latter – although that’s not to say that for many the improvement is likely to feel more revolutionary than evolutionary. For many supply chain executives, the first word that comes to mind when they think about the impact of digital technologies is ‘speed.’ A constant

stream of new digital technologies (social, mobile, analytics, cloud, Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, blockchain) is introducing previously unimagined levels of connectivity, data access, and automation across the supply chain. These capabilities are providing greater transparency and eliminating information bottlenecks. In doing so, they are uncovering opportunities across an extended Connected Supply Chain. The potential for business benefit through implementing Connected Supply Chain applications is huge. The Internet of Things (IoT) will enable objects from shipping containers to individual items to communicate across organisational boundaries. This will lead to effective real-time shipment tracking and inventory visibility. The IoT will

Supply chain

also contribute to better control over a range of other assets. Downtime and ineffective usage will be evident, and damage caused by operators can be more closely monitored. The wealth of data created by the IoT coupled with secure blockchain transaction processing and the burgeoning field of data analytics will provide new supply chain opportunities. There is also huge potential for useable demand information as items that have reached the end consumer will continue to provide data about how they are used, and when they reach the end of their lifespan. The Connected Supply Chain will enable companies to track and count products and assets, and greatly reduce waste, loss, fraud and cost. Companies will know when things need replacing, repairing or recalling,

and whether they are fresh or past their best. These benefits can be brought together to create process efficiencies through the opportunities that ‘smarter, highly integrated, secure networks’ can drive. The Connected Supply Chain enables the discrete processes that currently take place in silos (functional and organisational) to be observed and managed through the analysis of the data provided: the ‘holy grail’ of dynamic supply chain optimisation may now be within reach. However, while digital technologies are now capable of supporting the Connected Supply Chain and delivering dynamic supply chain optimisation they are only gradually coming to fruition. This is because companies have already invested, over many years, in technology to improve their supply chain performance. Indeed, it can be argued that companies have been digitising for over 20 years. For many this has led to ‘islands of digital technologies’, with no clear strategy of how these can be combined to deliver the Connected Supply Chain. This means that most supply chain digital transformations will be challenging, as they will need to anticipate future technology developments whilst responding to market changes – in a 2017 Gartner survey of 318 supply chain organisations, 75 per cent reported concerns about the governance of digital projects. In addition, the Connected Supply Chain requires potentially different ways of working between organisations across the supply chain. It’s time to have another discussion about collaboration! If you haven’t started on the Connected Supply Chain journey here are four key questions to think about: • Do you have a strong operational IT backbone? To be part of the Connected Supply Chain, you must have accurate, accessible customer and product data, and disciplined end-to-end transaction processes. • Do you have a digital strategy? Developing a digital strategy is no different to developing any other technology strategy – it’s just that the pace needs to be faster! You need an understanding of the existing

digital capabilities of the business (the ‘islands of digital technologies’), what digital capabilities are required to enable the Connected Supply Chain and the roadmap to get there. • Do you have a data-driven decision making culture? To take advantage of the Connected Supply Chain you need a culture that values data and is comfortable with gathering and interpreting data to make better decisions. This isn’t about just having a few data scientists - the data-driven culture must be at the heart of the company. • Are you prepared to collaborate? There will be benefits from implementing the Connected Supply Chain within the confines of your own organisation but the game changing benefits will come through optimising an extended supply chain. This will require closer, collaborative relationships with your customers and suppliers. Not all will want to collaborate and join you on the journey – concentrate on the ones that do. The Connected Supply Chain is in reach, and dynamic optimisation has the potential to deliver a step change in supply chain performance. The digital technologies that enable the Connected Supply Chain are developing and maturing at pace – not all will be successful. But you can’t just wait and watch, you may end up too far behind to participate. Start the journey now. D Jeremy Hammant is an Associate Director at BearingPoint. BearingPoint is an independent management and technology consultancy with European roots and a global reach. The company operates in three units: Consulting, Solutions and Ventures. BearingPoint’s clients include many of the world’s leading companies. The firm has a global consulting network with more than 10,000 people and supports clients in over 75 countries, engaging with them to achieve measurable and sustainable success. 31

Given its long history of dairy farming and production, one need goes no further than the UK for a demonstration of milk packaging best practice. Darren Dodd explains the impact food safety has had on milk packaging worldwide and the importance of integrating a tamperevident seal into the container closure 32

Safe and sealed T he glass bottle was UK consumers’ preferred milk container well into the 1970s. This then gave way to lightweight, safer and easier-tomanufacture LDPE coated cardboard cartons. Later it moved to the now ubiquitous screw-capped, induction heat sealed HDPE container. While the UK has effectively pioneered the use of reliable, leak-free and secure packaging for milk containers, other developed economies have been surprisingly late in catching up. In the United States, for example, glass may have been phased out more rapidly than in the UK in favour of coated cardboard cartons and square HDPE gallon capacity milk jugs. US

dairy suppliers and retailers, unlike their UK counterparts, are latecomers to the benefits of leak-free, tamperevident seals, particularly for HDPE milk jugs. Indeed, as US customers began to welcome the transition from glass bottle to plastic jug, the drawbacks of the latter having no secondary sealing between the container lip and the screw cap soon became apparent.

The need to seal Leaking milk containers were accepted as par for the course. Retailers had the constant task of keeping shelves clean and accepting the complaints of consumers who, on returning home, had discovered that their milk had leaked in transit. In the shops and


supermarkets, the only recourse for perennially frustrated retailers was to use costly and unsightly spill mats to soak up leakages from shelf surfaces. Australian retailers were having similar experiences but growing consumer concern for better product safety, hygiene and the elimination of product leakage saw much wider adoption of induction heat sealing. Selig is a close observer of the Australian market and claims that, as far back as 2007, the introduction of its Lift ‘n’ Peel™ induction liner by the Australian dairy industry proved a positive selling point. Resulting in a significant sales growth for those brands that adopted the seal as a key element of their dairy packaging.

Scalable process Canada is also seeing a trend towards induction heat sealing of milk containers following a well reported contamination incident. In June 2017 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called to investigate milk recalls in British Columbia when a ‘potential presence of harmful extraneous material’ was reported in unsealed milk jugs from a supplier.

Health Canada said there had been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products but did conduct a food safety investigation. The dairy in question acted very promptly to improve the security of its

milk packaging and, in a concerted effort to ensure best practice, has now taken the precaution of applying tamper-evident induction sealed liners to all its milk jugs. Selig has been particularly successful in addressing the needs of the UK dairy industry. It’s easy-open induction heat seal liner provides immediate evidence of tampering. Its integral easy open, half-moon pull tab has been designed to be ergonomically easy to grip, while remaining flexible and extremely strong. The process of applying this type of liner is, however, critical to its success. No other processing or equipment, other than an induction heating machine, is required to bond the liner. There are several key process conditions that must be met and maintained guarantee successful container sealing on a filling line. Once these process parameters have been established for a given line speed, consistent sealing integrity is assured. Induction heat sealing is also a scalable process. Even a start-up can take advantage of this state-of-the-art liner technology, making use of new semi-automatic, even hand-held, induction machines. Induction heat sealing provides an interesting entrylevel opportunity for those producers currently using milk bags or other forms of packaging. Enabling them to test market reaction, to differentiate their offering and, ultimately, to provide peace of mind for consumers. D Darren Dodd is Marketing and Service Director at Selig, a leading worldwide manufacturer of tamper evident cap and closure lining materials for use across a broad range of applications; such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, cosmetics and healthcare. Selig’s comprehensive range of both one and two piece structures means that it can manage even the most challenging applications with one of its customised aluminum foil/heat seal combination products. 33


Smooth moves Bio-tiful Dairy has added Cacao Kefir and Honey & Ginger Kefir Smoothies to its range, aimed at health-conscious consumers wanting to upgrade their ordinary dairy purchases, as Natasha Bowes, Founder of Bio-tiful Dairy explained: “Our Cacao and Honey & Ginger NPD are building on the widespread appeal of Kefir and naturally functional dairy. With our research into trends and feedback straight from consumers themselves, we’re looking to lead the way with the most appealing flavours.” Bio-tiful Dairy Kefir contains over 40 strains of gut-friendly bacteria (compared to conventional milk that has zero and yoghurt that only has a couple) and is the ideal choice to maintain a healthy gut and boosting immunity. As

gut health continues to grow into a mainstream global trend, Bio-tiful Dairy continues its mission to transform dairy and

help consumers improve their milk and yoghurt dairy consumption to a more nutritious and higher quality dairy such as Kefir.

With two of the Test team already fans of kefir, it wasn’t hard to find volunteers for these new flavours! The Cacao variety was rich and creamy, with a delicious sharp yet chocolate flavour. “I feel like I am indulging in an alternative chocolate milkshake with no guilt and the benefit of essential vitamins and minerals – win win! The Honey & Ginger flavour was warming and had a depth of sweetness from the honey – a real winner at breakfast time.”

Feeling fruity Made with real fruit, UPBEAT Drinks’ new variant combines blood orange with the zesty sweetness of mandarin. The new flavour delivers taste, hydration and nutrition without a single drop of sugar and with 12g of premium whey protein, and joins the existing portfolio of UPBEAT Protein Waters, which includes Blueberry & Raspberry and Summer Lemon. A mix of spring water, real fruit from low sugar fruit juice, whey protein, vitamins and minerals, they contain

fewer than 55 calories, and are scientifically proven to help you stay strong, feel energised and maintain mental performance whilst keeping you hydrated. The whey protein added to UPBEAT is not only vegetarian but also includes all nine essential amino acids, designed to keep the body strong. UPBEAT also incorporates vitamin B5 to support mental performance and vitamins B6 and B12 to support metabolism and to help reduce stress and fatigue.

“I really enjoyed the combination of Bloody Orange & Mandarin in the UPBEAT Protein Water, and I was very impressed with the health pedigree of the ingredients as well. It delivered a nice fruity, refreshing drink, with a natural taste, added vitamins and minerals and some protein – so much better for me than a quick can of fizzy pop.”

Soya Unsweetened drink and Alpro Plain Unsweetened Big Pot – which all contain no sugars and no sweeteners at all (that’s right, when Alpro say ‘Unsweetened’, they really mean it!)

need any additional sweetness added, unlike soya milk, and I like the texture it makes in a hot drink. Alpro describes it as adding a ‘splash of paradise to your day’ – I couldn’t agree more! I will definitely be trying the suggestions for using the Coconut Unsweetened in a coconut chocolate cake, or a nice curry or soup. Alpro never let me down with a new product!”

A splash of paradise Alpro’s new coconut drink – Alpro Coconut Unsweetened – is 100 per cent plant-based, fortified with B12 and vitamin D, low in fat, and contains no sugars and no sweeteners at all! A great alternative to cow’s milk, Alpro Coconut Unsweetened can be added to porridge, baked into cakes, added to curries or soups, or used in lattes. Alpro Coconut Unsweetened drink joins Alpro’s Unsweetened family, which also includes Oat Unsweetened drink, Almond Unsweetened drink,


“I used the Alpro Coconut Unsweetened in my morning porridge, and I like the creaminess of it, as well as the slight coconutty flavour it adds to the oats. I also make a mean coconut latte – I find the Coconut unsweetened doesn’t


Eat happy

Plant powered tea

Mr Lee’s Pure Foods Co. has revamped its recipes and packaging in Mr Lee’s Noodles. Its range of six absolutely ‘nonasties’ noodles, Mr Lee’s is crafted to authentic Asian recipes using the finest freeze-dried proteins and vegetables, air-dried rice noodles and skilfully developed premium spices. By using the latest technologies available, Mr Lee’s is one of the market’s lowest in salts, sugars, fats (saturated), calories with no nasty chemicals (MSGs, additives, colours), all certified low-insugar with Sugarwise and gluten-free with Coeliac UK and Coeliac AU. “Perfect for the busy parent or time-

Wellness Lab Ltd is revolutionising the tea industry with a plant powered, probiotic blend that can now easily be added to everything from drinks and yoghurts to cakes and even meals. The innovative Probiotic Tea range offers a unique series of powder blends packed full of flavour and goodness. Simple to use, the products are available in three flavours Matcha, Berry and Turmeric with each serving providing approximately one billion live cultures, and all are gluten free, dairy free and sugar free.

poor professional, our naturally glutenfree noodles are ideal for anyone looking for a healthier way to eat, without giving up on taste or convenience. We’ve worked hard to make sure each and every cup contains a restaurant-calibre dish, authentic in taste and texture to the oriental cuisine you’d expect from any top noodle bar,” said Damien Lee, CEO of Mr Lee’s Pure Foods.

The Taste Test team are big fans of Mr Lee’s – they were thrilled to see a box arrive with the new look. “I tried the Hong Kong Street Beef, and the Dragon Fire Vegetables. Both were ‘medium spice’ and they did pack a good amount of heat! Making them was easy peasy, just add hot water – I went for the ‘less soup’ option as I prefer them saucy. Both pots had excellent amounts of flavour, nice chunks of vegetables, in good amounts, too. My colleague managed to snaffle the Coconut Chicken Laksa flavour, but I am determined to get myself one to try soon – I looked forward to my Mr Lee’s lunch all morning!”

Taste of the future One of the leading manufacturers of high protein within the UK and with historical credentials in sports nutrition, SCI-MX Nutrition has launched new PRO 2GO, a range of high protein packed snacks for the health-conscious consumer. The range includes gooey bars, with a liquid centre, raw bars which are vegan and come in two convenient portions each less than 100 calories, high fibre flapjacks and gluten free bakes which provide a healthy, savoury alternative to everyday crisps. Steve Rich, Sales & Marketing Director, PRO 2GO explained why the company had launched these new products: “People are becoming increasingly aware and the importance of wellbeing and the benefits of exercise good nutrition from both a physical and mental perspective, to the point that health is now lifestyle. The snacking space is becoming much more sophisticated as consumers seek out products that support their lifestyle, ensuring their choices contribute to help

meet their overall health demands. “With our heritage in protein and extensive research into today’s lifestyle category, we have created PRO 2GO to appeal to consumers that want healthy and accessible high protein snacks that meet their needs throughout the day.”

Our tester started with the Berries with Cultures variety, and the packaging immediately scored points with its clear message of ‘Instant Drink, Plant Based, Total 50 billion CFU, one Billion CFU per cup.’ “This was so easy to make, I added water that was just cooled after boiling, and I used one heaped teaspoon. It mixed very easy with a quick stir, no lumps. A few berry ‘bits’ floated to the top, giving it an authentic look. It had a lovely deep red colour, and the flavour was ‘very berry’, sweet with a slight sour twist, refreshing and warming at the same time. I found the Matcha and Turmeric flavours to be as intense, with the turmeric having a spicier edge, and the Matcha having a good helping of mint to balance its earthiness.”

“I loved the PRO 2GO – Salted Caramel & Milk Chocolate. It didn’t have that usual powdery taste or dense texture that most protein bars have, instead it was slightly salty and sweet, creamy, silky, chewy and gooey. It seemed more like an indulgent snack bar and was very satisfying – add in the 20g protein and only 1.4g sugar and this has to be almost a game changer in the protein bar options out there.” 35

David Nairn


Burts Chips

Super snacks Considerable investment in its production sites has been crucial for Burts Chips’ fantastic performance in the crisp and popcorn market, with the UK’s fastest growing producer now looking to increase its workforce to address unprecedented demand


he better part of the past 12 months for Burts Chips has been dedicated to the integration of Leicesterbased popcorn producer Savoury & Sweet into the crisp-making business. Indeed, when we last got in touch with David Nairn – Chairman & Managing Director of Burts Chips – just under a year ago, the company had recently acquired Savoury & Sweet. Today, David is keen to reveal that the integration of the two organisations has been executed to perfection, as Burts Chips continues to pursue its ambitious, yet perfectly realistic, goal of hitting the £100 million turnover mark by 2022 with extra vigour. “All the production and planning management systems have been synchronised across our facilities in Devon and Leicester. Towards the end of 2018 and in the early months of this year, we completed a sizable investment in the Leicester site, which was previously owned by Savoury & Sweet, that enabled us to double its capacity. The new machinery installed includes new hand-cooked potato chip lines and a compression popping line, and we believe that the increased capacity will help us meet the evident growth in customer demand, whilst moving us closer to achieving our £100 million turnover goal,” David comments. At approximately the same time as the Leicester expansion, Burts Chips

a week to produce 220 tonnes of premium end product, but as even this rate, impressive in itself, does not seem to be enough to satisfy the massive spike in demand, Burts Chips is planning to harness the capabilities provided by the Midlands facility. “Since filling the capacity in Plymouth, we have successfully won new business, thus taking a greater share of the market,” David points out proudly. “Due to this expansion of our customer base and our focus on becoming a leader in the premium end of the popcorn market, we are planning to bring in a total of 65 new employees to our Leicester facility by the end of June to help us cope with recent growth with full production going live in August. We are looking for people to fill in a wide range of roles – from line leaders, fryers, and machine operators all the way through to production operatives, quality assurance technicians, and warehouse staff. It is the exception rather than the rule across the industry that we are creating

new jobs, but our growing customer base and the outstanding relationships we have with our clients have propelled us to increase our workforce, too,” he shares the company’s plans to enlarge its headcount.

Better for you It has been mentioned in passing earlier that Burts Chips has actively sought (and found) success in the popcorn production field, following a strategy to somewhat break away from its traditional specialism of making hand-cooked crisps. “By developing such a capability, we have been able to leverage the relationships we have with some of our major clients,” David remarks. “Our reputation of a leading potato chips brand is intact, but it seems to me that our customers have now noticed that we are placing very strong emphasis on providing a quality popcorn offering. In fact, I expect the popcorn business to double in sales in the next 12 months. What is more, we are slowly but surely trying to make the most of our

was also busy growing the capacity of its main crisp production site in Plymouth. The £3 million investment has made it possible for the business to fry in excess of 960 tonnes of potatoes 37

company’s commitment to innovation and uncompromising flavour. Offering varieties such as Sweet Pepper & Chorizo and West Country Cream Cheese, the items on this particular range are growing exponentially. “As part of this range, we also have our Lentil Waves, which comes in three different flavours – Lightly Salted, Sour Cream & Chives, and Thai Sweet Chilli, and that is also performing very well,” David clarifies.

Growth plans

newly-acquired compression popping capability, which will also be critical in meeting our medium-term objectives, going forward.”


A few years ago, Burts Chips launched its ‘Better For You’ range – a selection of light, healthy, and crunchy snacks, highlighting the

“Our R&D department is constantly being kept busy and we are currently working on some 160 projects. Of course, we are not talking just about new products, but rather the exploration of new flavours, which can soon find their place on our ranges. We clearly intend on releasing a number of new items into the market by the end of the year,” he continues.

Burts Chips For David, the tendency of premiumisation of snacks will be dominating the market landscape in the coming years and it is to his immense satisfaction that Burts Chips is more than well-prepared to operate successfully in such conditions. “Our aspiration to offer premium items clearly manifests itself through the ‘Better For You’ range and its strong performance guarantees that we are on the right path. In my view, the consumer is getting better value for their money and this is something they recognise and respect.” Prior to the acquisition of Savoury & Sweet and the ensuing infrastructure development covering both the latter’s Leicester site and Burts Chips’ Plymouth facility, the crisp producing business was turning over £29 million. In 2018, this figure grew to £44 million, while for this year, David is projecting a turnover of £60 million. He concludes:

“The additional foothold we now have in Leicester makes me confident that we will be able to hit our 2022 target. Judging by the fact that our turnover in 2019 promises to be higher than what we were originally predicting, we are well on track to reach £100 million in three years’ time. We have the space needed to do that, it is just a matter of identifying the technologies that we want to develop and offer to our existing customers, and the best way in which we can present them.

A solid client base and hard-working staff are the necessary prerequisites for the company’s future growth and we are happy that we have both in place as we aim to take Burts Chips to the next stage of its development as a business.” D

Frutarom UK Ltd Frutarom Savoury Flavours develops, manufactures and markets an extensive range of high quality flavours and seasoning blends for the snack industry. Through our global presence and local knowledge, we understand market trends and regional preferences. Global inspiration is at the heart of our authentic snack flavours, and through working in close partnership with our customers we develop high quality, bespoke and unique products that consumers love to eat. Visiting SnackEx 2019? Come and see us on stand 407 and snack your way through tasty cuisines of the world. Discover how together, we can create something special. 39

Holland & Barrett

Working for our well-being With more than 145 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, Holland & Barrett continues to add to its UK and international property portfolio, service proposition and product range while remaining a valued source of health and well-being advice for its expanding customer base


or Holland & Barrett, Europe’s leading health and wellness retailer, the financial year to 30th September 2018 was another strong and prosperous one in the history of this heritage British business, which traces its roots all the way back to 1870. In that year, it opened 66 new stores across its international network; group revenues exceeded £700 million; group operating profit increased to more than £152 million; like-for-like sales increased for the 38th consecutive quarter and group digital sales grew by over 32 per cent. In what are generally accepted as tough times

Hilary Leam

for retail, this is clearly an impressive performance that demonstrates the strength of the business and the resilience of the sector it leads. The last financial year was also a significant one for the group’s leadership team, with a number of key hires made to ready the business for the future. One such hire was the appointment of Hilary Leam to the position of Group Trading Director. Initially joining the group in March 2017, Hilary brought with her a wealth of experience in the retail, health and wellness sectors, having enjoyed 18 successful years with Alliance Boots and a further four with Morrison’s.

Today, Hilary oversees the buying functions for all categories of the group, covering all products and for the entire global network of more than 1400 stores. So, what was it about Holland & Barrett that so appealed to her in the first place? “Holland & Barrett, in simple terms, is a massive success story. To this day, it remains one of a select and small number of retail businesses that continues to grow consistently in what is a very challenging retail climate,” she begins. “The health and wellness sector is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting and rewarding sectors to work in. There is the constant change and challenge 41

always associated with high street retail, but in this business, we have exciting product development, market-leading change in service propositions and we are able to lead from the front when it comes to ethics and sustainability. I genuinely love having a key role in all of this. What really resonated with me from the offset about Holland & Barrett was the incredible passion for the business and its health and wellness proposition that unites everyone working here, from top to bottom. We operate in health, and everyone here is driven by the desire to do right by our customers.” People, products and passion certainly appear to be the ‘three p’s’ that sit at the heart of what Holland & Barrett does as a business, and imprinting this ethos into its employees begins at the earliest of stages. Each new member of the team undertakes a two-week training programme at the start of their employment where they begin to gain the education and knowledge about nutrition that will help to set them apart from their peers in the health and wellness world. On-the-job development then occurs on a continuous basis, with the end goal being to forge a team that is customer centric, product passionate and committed to providing the best degree of service possible. Indeed, unlike other retailers, Holland & Barrett


is the only retailer on the high street to train its store associates in a nationallyrecognised qualification, equivalent to an advanced-level standard. This means customers can be confident that they are receiving the most trusted advice when shopping in store or online. Not long after Hilary joined the business – in June 2017 – it was announced that L1 Retail, the retail investment arm of international investment firm LetterOne, had agreed to purchase Holland & Barrett for the sum of £1.77 billion. Since then, the business has undergone significant internal transformation, as Hilary explains in detail. “One of the key things that L1 Retail and its future-facing approach has brought to the table is a focus on transformational areas of the industry, such as our digital offering and our IT infrastructure. It has meant that we have been able to take an already successful business and open up even more opportunities for us to improve how we deliver products, services and information to our customers, wherever they may be

and whenever they need them.” Of course, in the fast-moving retail world, customer shopping habits and preferences can change rapidly. And like any other retailer, Holland & Barrett has had to strategically evolve to meet these changes, through developing new ways of reaching its customers – for example via its website or through the expansion of its concession models within Tesco stores – or by focusing even harder on new product and range development that either leads or responds to changes in trends. Hilary adds: “There is an ever-greater need within the retail world for companies to increase their responsiveness, and I think one of the things that makes Holland & Barrett so special is our ability to trade in the latest trends in a customer-friendly way. We work with businesses of all shapes and sizes, from big multi-national suppliers to small players at an embryonic stage, in order to bring the products that our customers want to market easily and through multiple channels. “If you look at both our food and beauty businesses, there is a strong focus on things like clean ingredients, a reduction in the use of additives and chemicals, and improved traceability. We were the first retailer on the high street to ban plastic bags, some six years before the Government legislated,

Holland & Barrett and we were the first to remove microplastics from our beauty range. Food wise, vegan and plant-based products are massively in demand and we have one of the best ranges in the market. There is a greater awareness of protein as a key component in many food products, and for a wide variety of customers. In our VHMS (Vitamins, Herbal, Minerals, Supplements) business we see products like turmeric continue to be a strong play, while new ingredients such as CBD (Cannabidiol) are becoming increasingly popular with our customers across a wide range of product applications. So, as you can see, things are constantly changing and that is what I love about this business. It is important always to remember, however, that we at Holland & Barrett are not about telling our customers what to buy. With our ‘qualified to advise’ associates in store and online, we advise our customers which products are the

most suitable in helping them reach their health and wellness goals.” Thanks to Brexit and international trade disputes, 2019 is proving to be a challenging year for all businesses, not just retail. It is therefore refreshing to hear that Holland & Barrett still has plans to grow and will continue to invest across the board, in its physical store portfolio, its e-commerce infrastructure, its customer service propositions and in new product development. “Health and wellness as a category remains

Bee Health Bee Health is the UK’s fastest growing vitamin, mineral and supplement manufacturer. We specialise in private label and contract manufacturing for some of the world’s largest retailers, as well as owning our own vitamin and supplement brands. From our state-of-the-art facility in Bridlington, Yorkshire, we are fully equipped to formulate, manufacture and package a wide variety of health foods including tablets, capsules, softgels, liquids, gels, creams and powders. We are proud to supply Holland & Barrett and were recently awarded ‘Supplier of the Year’ and ‘Best Vitamins, Herbals, Minerals & Supplements Supplier’.

incredibly exciting as well as robust. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their own health needs, not just in the UK or Europe but around the world. I have absolutely no doubt that we will continue see further evolution and growth in our market as technology and science continues to encourage and empower people to look after their health and well-being,” Hilary states. “Holland & Barrett will be there to respond to these changing needs, continuing to bring great new products to market and working hard to establish ourselves as the brand of choice for customers looking for help and advice in their health and well-being missions, supported by a service and product range that meets their specific needs. I believe we are already well on our way to achieving this, but recognise there is more work to be done in the months and years ahead,” Hilary concludes. D 43

Cracking the market


Shell Shack

Dallas Hale

Since 2013, people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas have been discovering what makes Shell Shack a seafood dining experience like no other, and they are rapidly being joined by consumers across the United States


t was in May 2013, in the heart of the bustling location of Uptown Dallas, Texas, that the first Shell Shack restaurant opened its doors to the public. Specialising in proprietary infused crab, shrimp and other seafood of all shapes and sizes, it offered a one-of-a-kind casual dining experience – based on true Texas Boil cooking – that was quickly embraced by enthusiasts and first-time visitors alike. “Shell Shack is a seafood restaurant with its own unique flair,” begins its President, CEO and co-founder, Dallas Hale. “The formation of the business came about by recognising a gap in the market for someone that could meet the need of consumers craving this type of food offering. The result is a brand that truly appeals to everyone, from the young to the old, from the man nextdoor to pro football players and rock stars. There really is no discrimination when it comes to people who love Shell Shack!” That love for the concept has seen Shell Shack grow considerably in the last six years, to the point where today it has seven corporate stores across the DallasFort Worth area, two franchised outlets – one in Houston and the other in Tyler – and plans to expand further still into cities such as Detroit and Cleveland. The secret to this, as Hale goes on to explain, is how the Shell Shack family strives to better its customer experience through operational excellence. “Each store we have is constantly evolving, growing and improving on a daily basis. To us, operational excellence means never thinking that we know it all and always being willing to identify ways that we can do things better. It is also about achieving consistency across our estate. This means that, wherever we have a restaurant, you can be assured of the same amazing service and food when you walk through our doors.” Beginning life as a single store concept, it was imperative that Hale and his co-founder Matt Saba got Shell Shack’s food and beverage offering perfect from the start. This was achieved in part by sourcing ingredients from only the finest purveyors. “When you visit a Shell Shack, you can be confident in knowing that our crabs, shrimp and assorted seafood come from the 45


For the remainder of 2019, we have plans to open up as many as five new locations, with the possibility of ten more to follow in 2020. I feel that we are pretty much at capacity here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so these new restaurants will be targeting cities such as Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, as well as further afield and across the United States


Shell Shack very best sources,” Hale continues. “For example, our crab originates from the best fishery zone – Zone 12 – in Alaska, and we simply will not settle for anything less. Such is our commitment towards the quality of our products.”

Franchising concept While the business may have grown, Hale, Saba and the rest of the management team retain a very hands-on approach when it comes to ensuring that only the best food reaches their customers’ plates. “Whenever a new type of crab or shrimp becomes available, we will judge that product in the way that we know works best, and that is via a taste test,” Hale reveals. “Together, we gather in a specific location and we personally test the produce ourselves, comparing flavours, textures and taste. This has proven invaluable to us, and we must be doing something right. We now exist in a more crowded market than ever, with more than 20 competitors operating in the same segment. Yet, not only do our customers continue coming back to Shell Shack, but our business continues to thrive!” Going forward, one key factor in Shell Shack’s further growth will be its ability to franchise the concept, and Hale is understandably passionate in highlighting the opportunities that owning a Shell Shack restaurant presents. “The fundamental reason why the brand lends itself so well to franchising is that it’s a concept that can fit into literally any market in the United States,” he explains. “We have spoken to people from Florida to California who have tried our food, and they all say the same thing — if you love seafood, you will love Shell Shack.”

franchisees receive regular updates to their training, including on-site visits and operation reviews. Speaking to Hale as we approach the midpoint of 2019, conversation naturally turns to the company’s plans for the second half of the year, and beyond. “For the remainder of 2019, we have plans to open up as many as five new locations, with the possibility of ten more to follow in 2020,” he states. “I feel that

we are pretty much at capacity here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so these new restaurants will be targeting cities such as Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, as well as further afield and across the United States. We have even already received enquiries about taking the brand international, which I think again shows the strength of our offering.” Even with the future looking so bright for Shell Shack, Hale and company are still working incredibly hard to keep the business as personal and wellgrounded as it has been since day one. “Collectively, we want to see the Shell Shack name present across the United States and to establish the brand as a powerhouse in the casual dining market,” he declares. “At the same time, we are incredibly proud to have remained so true to the values that our brand is all about, and that is something that will not change anytime soon.” D

Brand values As a franchisee, one can expect to take part in a comprehensive eightto-12-week training programme at the company’s Training Centre in Dallas. Additionally, it provides an ‘Opening Training Team’, which is composed of at least five trained representatives to provide on-site pre-opening and opening training, supervision and assistance for a minimum of 14 days. Once completed, 47

Pizza topped with IT


Dodo Pizza Dodo Pizza thinks big, pursuing aggressive global growth with its allround IT-based operation that has made it Russia’s leading pizza business

F Fyodor Ovchinnikov

ive years proved enough for Dodo Pizza to become the largest pizza chain in Russia. Hailing from the little-heard-of city of Syktyvkar in the Northwest part of the vast country, the company was founded by Fyodor Ovchinnikov in 2011. A bold entrepreneur, Fyodor made his childhood dream of running a pizza business come true by upholding his belief in the leading role IT should play in developing the brand. “Since day one, we have been building Dodo IS – our own IT system for managing store operations. It allows our partners to run their business efficiently and achieve outstanding financial results,” says Fyodor himself. “We see ourselves as a digital-first pizza delivery franchise. Every industry is now being disrupted by the internet and mobile technology, and the quick service restaurant (QSR) business is no exception. We believe that every QSR chain that means to stay around for a long time, will have to turn itself into a software company eventually. “The thing is that many legacy brands struggle with IT, because they treat it as a simple add-on to their management systems. In contrast, we believe that the whole management system should be rebuilt from the ground up with IT,” he expounds Dodo Pizza’s philosophy. Another pillar of the company’s system of values is its commitment to what it calls ‘radical transparency’. Fyodor elaborates, illustrating his claims with a number of examples of Dodo Pizza’s everyday operation: “The commitment makes it possible for us to attract 49

passionate entrepreneurs who propel our growth in Russia and abroad. Our technological savvy has enabled us to introduce multiple practices that underline this approach. “One such innovation is the feedback feature we launched on our mobile app a few months ago. It allows customers to rate their orders and the feedback is sent to the pizza shop management team,” he explains. “We also give every pizzeria a ranking based on this feedback and this ranking will shortly be visible on our website and in the app for everyone to see. It will be 100 per cent real and honest rating and if a store often lets its customers down, this will reveal itself and can negatively impact its profitability. Is this risky? Probably. But we believe this kind of transparency will force our team to adhere to our quality standards anywhere in the world and this will become our competitive advantage in the long run.”

Benefits of IT The transparency Dodo Pizza insists upon extends right through to every store kitchen where a webcam is installed, making it possible for customers to follow every step of the preparation process. “Of course, we also measure the preparation time of every single pizza and compare it against the desired standard. The result is then displayed on a separate screen in the kitchen, which helps us motivate the kitchen crew and adds some fun to the process,” Fyodor comments. “Other benefits of our IT-driven system include the provision of vital information such as how much time pizzas spend on the shelf waiting for delivery, with daily and monthly stats feeding management with accurate assessment of how effectively delivery has been planned, as well as forecasts about the workload of the kitchen. The system warns the shift manager if they plan too many or too few people to work in the kitchen at any time of the day, which helps the unit reach its optimal productivity.” Being the largest pizza company in Russia and Kazakhstan, Dodo Pizza is currently present in a total of 12 countries, mainly in Eastern Europe, as well as in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and


Dodo Pizza China. The Western countries, whose markets the brand has made forays into, however, are the two largest and most competitive – the UK and the US. Of the over 490 units Dodo Pizza operates, four are based in England and Fyodor is explicit about his desire to focus on developing this particular part of the world in the near future. “We have just opened a new pizza shop in Walsall Central to add to our existing stores in Brighton, Coventry, and Walsall Wood, and we are also looking for a location for our first corporate pizzeria in the UK, as all the four currently operating are franchised.”

accept payments only through WeChat.” Among the other important plans for Dodo Pizza is opening its first shop in Nigeria later in 2019, as well as hiring more than 120 new software developers in the next few years who will help evolve the Dodo IS. Unlike the dodo bird, which is said to have gone extinct

in the 17th century and that inspired Fyodor to such a degree that he decided to name the business after it, Dodo Pizza is here to stay and revolutionise the food industry with yet-untried concepts only a real entrepreneurial spirit can dare to set in motion. D

Audacious goals Expanding successfully in the UK will be crucial for Dodo Pizza’s ambition of growing the number of its shops in Western and Central Europe, the US, and China from 16 to 200 by the end of 2021. Known for setting audacious goals, Fyodor is hopeful that the challenging task ahead of his team will provide an extra shot of motivation for everyone that will eventually facilitate the coveted global breakthrough. He is also keen on concentrating on the Chinese market, revealing that Dodo Pizza has just launched a pilot pizzeria in Hangzhou. “It is a new concept we have developed specifically for the business climate in this country. We were driven by the necessity to stay relevant in a market where the delivery business is controlled by delivery platforms,” Fyodor discusses. “Therefore, we created a new pizza-based product and opened a unit aimed at takeaway, with delivery as a supplementary channel of sales. The pizzeria is also cashless, for now we 51

Rocking out

Food & Moments Group is a trusted franchisee of Hard Rock International in Spain, managing four restaurants whose reflection of the local culture make them a must-visit for tourists and locals alike David Carmona



nowing Hard Rock Café inside-out has been instrumental for David Carmona, CEO of Food & Moment Group - the company that, as of today, operates four of the iconic restaurant chain’s locations in Spain, together with another two Rock Shop retail units. David’s illustrious career has taken him to occupying various corporate roles in Madrid, before moving on to General Manager positions – first in Barcelona and then in Rome. “This experience on the corporate side gave me a lot of valuable knowledge,” he affirms. “Hard Rock Cafe and I share the same values. Needless to say, I am very passionate about the restaurant business and also extremely resultsdriven. I always see the big picture, but, at the same time, no detail is too small. Every little aspect is important, therefore, attention to detail in this industry is crucial,” he lists some of the features that characterise him and the business. Food & Moments was founded in 2007 and has since gradually extended its portfolio of restaurants. The company’s first unit was the Hard Rock Cafe in Mallorca (2008), followed by Marbella

(2009), Valencia (2017), and Malaga (2019). Meanwhile, Food & Moments was also entrusted with the operation of two Rock Shop establishments at Mallorca Airport – the first opened in 2014 and the second was launched earlier in 2019. Over the years, Food & Moments has distinguished itself as a restaurant operator that aims to incorporate into its offering the spirit of the area where its outlets are located. David explains: “For example, the memorabilia displayed across the restaurants include pieces from famous local artists. On top of that, we often organise live music events with local performers and celebrations of certain local holidays, to promote the culture of the specific region. As is the custom, each property also includes a Rock Shop, with nearly all of the merchandise sporting the city name on it. We have created a number of special items, like the City Tee, which feature elements related to the unique traits of each of the cities.” While strictly following all the recipes already established by Hard Rock International, Food & Moments has also succeeded in squeezing in a couple

Food & Moments Group of regional treats to its menu. “We serve our traditional Local Legendary Burgers, inspired by the cities’ flavours. Noteworthy, in Valencia, our menu includes a burger created by the winner of Top Chef Spain - Begoña Rodrigo, who is also a renowned child of the city. Another mouth-watering delight on offer is the horchata – a local plant milk beverage, traditionally made of chufas (tiger nuts), which, to this day, remains a symbol of Valencia,” David points out. Behind the scenes, Food & Moments subjects all of its employees to intensive training, following the established brand guidelines closely. The business stresses the importance of teamwork, and the efficient collaboration between people in different positions – from kitchen staff to hosts, waiters, and floor managers, is seen as vital to the creation of an authentic Hard Rock experience, accompanied with good music and highquality food. “Speaking of our food proposition, in particular, we never compromise on quality and we are very careful in adhering to our rigorous procedures on food handling and preparation,” David remarks. “All of our food is made with the freshest ingredients day in and day out, making sure it meets the high brand standards set by Hard Rock International.” Multiple awards bestowed upon Food & Moments by the chain attest to the consistency in the former’s performance. In January 2012, the Mallorca restaurant won the yearly ‘Cafe Merit Award’, as well as the ‘S&M Award’. During the summer of the same year, it was also chosen as the ‘Top of The Rock Cafe’ for August – a feat, which was repeated by Hard Rock Cafe Marbella in December. “The Mallorca establishment shone bright again in May 2013 when it won the ‘Rewards Contest Award’. Two years later, the entire group reached a significant milestone as we were named ‘Best Franchise Partner of the Year’ – a recognition that has really proven that our formidable relationship with Hard Rock International has been wholesome all along,” David adds. The busy beginning of the year has understandably been attributed to the opening of Malaga’s first Hard Rock Cafe, as well as the new Rock Shop at Mallorca

Airport. David praises the location of the restaurant: “I believe that if anything makes this particular outlet unique, is the fact that it is situated right on one of the docks of the Port of Malaga. From there, our visitors can enjoy spectacular sunsets, while sitting in the rooftop terrace area. “We have also come to be known as an organisation that partners actively with

local institutions in creating opportunities for young people. This approach was put in practice again in setting up the Malaga location when we collaborated with the City Hall and their employment programme. Together, we held a Job Fair in Malaga, which attracted 400 participants and, as a result of it, we hired 80 employees for the restaurant,” he touches upon Food & Moments’ CSR initiatives. In conclusion, David imparts his longterm vision for the company: “We want to see strong business all year round within the next five years. Right now, we are very seasonal, which continues to yield good results, but we are also working on attracting local customers, as well, which will provide us with a steadier workflow over the course of the year. As our company is getting bigger, we are exploring the opportunities to engage with other brands, too, growing and diversifying our portfolio.” D (under construction) 53

A fresh way of thinking


Eisberg Franco MĂźhlgrabner Managing Director of Eisberg Austria

A European market leader in the production of fresh convenience salads, fruits and vegetables, Eisberg has taken the next step in its development with the opening of a cutting-edge production facility in Austria 55



n 18 March, 2019, following an 18-month construction phase, a ceremonial opening celebration was held in Marchtrenk, Austria to mark the opening of Eisberg’s newest production facility. This ultra-modern new facility will ultimately be the recipient of more than €70 million in investment and will bring together various fresh and convenience products and brands of the Bell Food Group – parent company of Eisberg – under a single roof for the very first time. Ultimately, the facility’s four separate production halls will be responsible for producing the Eisberg range of salads, fruits and vegetables, snack products and vegetable convenience goods from the Hilcona range, poultry convenience products marketed under the Hubers brand, and meat products from the Bell collection.


The facility itself boasts a number of innovative, cutting edge initiatives, technologies and processes that give it a best-in-class standing and make it one of the most modern, advanced buildings of its kind in Europe In its own right, Eisberg is one of the leading companies in Europe when it comes to the production of ultra-fresh convenience salads, vegetables and fruits, supplying customers in 14 different countries from its various facilities in Switzerland, Poland, Romania and Hungary. The

Bell Food Group, meanwhile, is one of the continent’s leading meat and convenience processors, boasting an annual turnover of more than €4 billion. For both parties, the opening of the aforementioned Marchtrenk facility marks a significant milestone. “We first approached the idea of building a local production base in Austria following discussions with our clients in the region, during which we identified a strong demand for ultra-fresh convenience products, from fresh cut salads, vegetables and fruits, to sandwiches, baguettes and pasta meals,” explains Franco Mühlgrabner, Managing Director of Eisberg Austria. “Consumers in the country, and indeed further afield throughout Europe, have moved in large numbers towards fresher convenience products, and this is a trend that has been recognised by our customers across the retail and 57

hospitality industries. Whereas most of our competitors still tend to produce things like sandwiches using lots of preservatives, giving them a shelf life of up to 21 days, today’s consumers want to eat things made with fresh ingredients and with much shorter date ranges. This is part of a big culture change in our key markets, and with the introduction of our new Marchtrenk facility it is great news for us!�

Utmost safety What began, back in November 2017, as a single 6000 square metre production hall quickly evolved into what will ultimately be four fully operational halls with a total of 19 lines, spanning 24,000 square metres in total. These halls are joined by a number of offices, and a fully equipped research and development department, which will act as a knowledge centre for the entire Eisberg Group, in which to develop new


Eisberg products and sustainable packaging solutions. The facility itself boasts a number of innovative, cutting edge initiatives, technologies and processes that give it a best-in-class standing and make it one of the most modern, advanced buildings of its kind in Europe. “One example of how the Marchtrenk is leading the way is its incorporation of what the Bell Food Group calls its Hygienic Design 2021 format,” Franco continues. “This concept, specially developed in partnership with the manufacturers, helps to guarantee the utmost product safety as each line is kept completely separate, meaning that there is no risk of cross-contamination.” Automation will also play a hugely important role within the new facility, with a fully automatic salad production line already in operation. “To ensure the highest levels of product quality are retained on a constant basis, the

GEA Food Solutions Weert Eisberg adopted our ultrasonic sealing technology at an early stage and have been very helpful in providing constructive feedback. In this sense, they have both helped us with our product development and brought additional value to their own customers as well. We greatly value partners such as Eisberg, with whom we can co-develop solutions that benefit the whole industry in the long term. After eight years, both companies continue to benefit from the initial investment, while the cooperation has allowed us to expand the number of vertical packaging machines we have in the field that are equipped with ultrasonic sealing technology. 59

facility makes use of optical sorters for detecting foreign bodies,” Franco adds. “By utilising two lasers and six cameras, the system measures each and every component that progresses through the line, taking approximately 6000 images to record density, colour, size and structure. These are then used to identify any foreign bodies or components that do not match our standards, and these are removed using a pulse of compressed air. The cut good components are then transported to our automatic packaging machines.”

Valuable acquisition For Eisberg, the opening of its new Austrian facility is not the only major development to have occurred in the last year or so. Back in April 2018, for instance, the company completed the acquisition of Sylvain & CO SA, a Swiss family business specialising itself in the processing of fresh, ready-


to-eat salads, vegetables and fruits. The company has since continued to be managed by its former Managing Director, Sylvain Agassis, who Franco is full of praise for. “Sylvain is truly an innovative individual and someone who brings a lot of fresh ideas into the business,” he professes. “By bringing Sylvain & CO into the Eisberg Group we have gained access to new product lines, as well as additional knowledge

Eisberg and expertise which we have already transferred to our Austria facility. It also provides us with increased production capacity in Switzerland, and will allow Eisberg access to its network of shipments to France, which is a market that we have previously not ventured much into.”

Next steps Turning back to 2019, and the company’s plans for the rest of this year, focus naturally shifts back to the Marchtrenk facility. “When you commence with the operation of something as important as a new 6000 square metre production hall, you can never be 100 per cent certain of what will happen, however, we could not be happier with what we have achieved to date at our new facility,” Franco enthuses. “Today, we are processing 40 different articles in larger volumes than we had previously expected, and 61



Eisberg Austria offers fresh salads and a variety of other products. It specialises in ultra-fresh convenience products and delivers them individually to each customer. Salads Washed and ready-to-eat salads in various cuts, types and mixtures, as well as in the most diverse packaging sizes, offer an optimal range for every customer. Eisberg uses iceberg, head or frisé salad, as well as rocket leaves, lettuce and spinach. By creating combinations with vegetables such as carrots or cabbage, the company’s salad mixes are lifted beyond the ordinary. Retail salads Salad bags for retailers are constantly being redeveloped or further developed. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology in production and packaging, Eisberg can guarantee long shelf lives and high product safety without additives. Depending on the mixture, cut and required durability, Eisberg works with microperforation and/or packaging under a protective atmosphere to get by without additives. Vegetables This product category represents a major time saving for customers: when ready, washed and cut, Eisberg’s vegetable products are ready for immediate use. Its factory processes carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, potatoes, cabbage and much, much more. Fruit Fruit salads with or without infusion, or from one or more fruits are also freshly produced. Included in the assortments are citrus fruits, pineapples, apples and grapes, as well as many other varieties. Delicatessen salads Marinated vegetable salads are a perfect accompaniment to salad leaves or savoury dishes. The company’s range includes potato salad, bean and French bean, cucumber cream salad or carrot salad. Salad meals ‘Ready to eat’ meals are very trendy, save time and are a healthy snack. Salad mixtures in combination with various components such as vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese or even fish are part of Eisberg’s product range. Sandwiches & wraps The ideal snack for travelling, Eisberg can offer various fillings, ideally matched with breads and salads for the perfect combination. The company is able to work with clients as a partner for ultra-fresh to-go products. Snacks with rice and cereals The Eisberg range includes classics as well as modern pasta and cereal salads, as well as other delicious dishes for immediate consumption or for heating in the microwave. Mueslis & yoghurt with fresh fruits Yoghurt with a topping of muesli and fresh fruits as well as a fine Bircher muesli creation complete the Eisberg product range.

Taraplast Taraplast is a designer and manufacturer of bespoke thermoformed packaging for the fresh food industry. Its strategy of ‘fresh food packaging architecture’ is based on a B2B2C vision of retailer success and consumer delight, aiming to enhance and advance the way people select, purchase and enjoy fresh food. Taraplast has won industry benchmark awards in developing and executing innovative convenience food packaging concepts. Whether it’s innovative ideations for dietary trends, value analyses or carbon footprint assessments, Taraplast’s R&D team offer a repertoire of choices to best ascertain the most apt packaging solution, with a closed loop approach in designing and producing. Its 4.0 manufacturing facility also offers seamless end-to-end value-chain automation using the latest robotic and process control technologies, to ensure unit cost reduction, compressed lead times and exemplary quality control. 63

ALVARPACK GROUP We are a fresh cut packaging specialist, and flexibility, timely delivery and post-sale customer support is our motto. We offer a wide range of high quality BoPP Antifog films in a large variety of packaging formats. We use high performance flexoprint printers, up to eight colours, and rotoprint printers, up to ten colours, for the best quality printing. We adopt a full-service approach that aims to provide end-to-end customer solutions. We supply our clients not only with packaging products, but also with our wide experience in day-to-day production problem solving. We are BRC certified - Global Standard Issue 1.


Eisberg we now plan to increase this further still as we start up the remaining lines in hall number one. “From there, the next big step will be to finish the work on production hall number two, ahead of operations commencing in July 2019, upon which we will be able to increase volumes of our sandwich meals that are made in Austria. When it comes to hall number three, we plan to have that ready for production by the end of the year, and that particular area will be dedicated to the creation of meat and chicken convenience products. The fourth and final hall is currently something of a strategic reserve, but we have ambitious plans for this area of the facility, and we will be bringing in equipment for this in the near future.” When Franco began overseeing work on the Marchtrenk facility, he was one member of a very small team. Through his and his colleagues’ dedicated

efforts, it is today home to 110 employees and will ultimately generate 250 new jobs, bringing fresh blood, ideas and creativity into the business.

No wonder, therefore, that these are exciting times for both Eisberg and the Bell Food Group! D

TRANSDANUBIA Being a family owned logistics company, TRANSDANUBIA is aware of the challenges to minimise its ecological footprint and therefore has a holistic approach towards the topics of sustainability and environmental protection. We feel responsible for future generations. The fleet consists only of EURO 6 trucks, own service stations guarantee full efficiency, and truck washing facilities recycle 80 per cent of the used water. Modern software and monitoring, meanwhile, decreases empty mileage. New warehouses have roof-greening, recuperate the energy of the cooling aggregates and rely on environmentally friendly CO systems. ² Furthermore, energy produced by a photovoltaic plant produces up to 50 per cent of our headquarters’ energy consumption. 65

Leading the way As its many accomplishments and highlights show, 2018 was another hugely prosperous year for Bidfood, with the company continuing to demonstrate its ability to respond to rapidly evolving trends, tastes and industry demands 68


hen Dr Andrew Kemp FIH, Group Sales and Marketing Director of Bidfood, describes 2018 as an ‘incredible year’ for the business, if anything he could be downplaying just how successful those 12 months were for one of the UK’s leading foodservice providers. “Last year, we were the recipients of over 60 awards for our products, our people and our business, most notably the Grocer Gold – Wholesaler of the Year award, and our CEO, Andrew Selley, winning the Grocer Cup,” details Andy, who himself was recently awarded a personal lifetime achievement award at the EDUcatering Awards.

“We have also seen some major developments to our growing infrastructure, including moving our Worthing depot to a new, larger purpose-built site, opening our new site in Penrith, and securing land for a new depot in Liverpool. These additions allow us to continue to be closer to our customers and to deliver excellent service,” Andy continues. “Meanwhile, as part of our strategy to make lives easier and help our customers to grow, we have continued to focus heavily on e-trading, with 2018 being our most successful year of e-trading to date!” The aforementioned move of the company’s Worthing depot to its new 64,000 sq. ft site in Lancing, was

Bidfood officially completed in September 2018. The new depot has a range of food holding areas from a 25k sq. ft ambient storage, and a 13.7k sq. ft freezer, to a 1.8k sq. ft chilled store, and a 7.4k sq. ft chill marshall area. The building has also been designed to incorporate a large customer experience centre, which is currently in planning stages. The space will facilitate Bidfood’s work in partnership with food and drink suppliers to test and develop new products, as well as support menu development and innovation for customers along the South Coast. In addition, the site boasts a large office space, which combined with the new warehouse, is set to provide more career opportunities in the local area, from telesales professionals to drivers. The new office will also offer a Sunday telesales service to help streamline Bidfood’s customer service in this region.

Sustainability The site includes a variety of sustainable features including: lighting to ensure a safe working environment and photocell activation to reduce energy consumption, refrigeration that has zero ozone depletion potential and zero global warming potential which will significantly reduce energy consumption. It also includes the use of sustainable building materials and a ‘SUDS’ drainage system installed for storm water disposal. “As leaders in sustainability, it is important for us to always be looking at ways to improve,” Andy states. “Sustainability is always evolving, and so we need to be flexible and open to looking at new ways to improve our sites and educate our people. We also continue to improve the credentials of our fleet. For example, we do not use diesel powered refrigerators within our vehicles, instead opting for over-cab Frigoblock units, which are powered by an electric alternator driven by the vehicle engine. These fridges are more energy efficient and create 50 per cent less noise pollution. They also use refrigerant gases, which help to reduce our overall contribution to the 69


We have engaged with many organisations, working with them to mobilise industry bodies to support the protection of Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM), particularly the benefits of children’s attainment through good nutrition and hydration


Bidfood greenhouse effect by 50 per cent.” Another topic that is close to Andy’s heart is his belief that Bidfood, and others within its industry, should remain focused on the importance of feeding children and supporting the elimination of so-called ‘holiday hunger’. “We have engaged with many organisations, working with them to mobilise industry bodies to support the protection of Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM), particularly the benefits of children’s attainment through good nutrition and hydration. Working on projects like this is hugely important to us, and we will continue to educate and create awareness of all the attributes and benefits of great food served well.”

Supporting trends Over the course of 2019, one of the biggest focus areas for Bidfood is expected to be its addressing of the

needs of an ever-growing number of health-conscious consumers. Indeed, the rise of this community – made up of a high percentage of millennials – and its demands are helping to shape influences in the food and drink world. “As a business, there is a lot that Bidfood is doing to support these trends,” Andy reveals, “one example being the launch of our Vegan range in March 2018, which has since gone from strength-to-strength. The strong offer coming from manufacturers has meant that we have been able to provide our customers with interesting vegan products, packed full of flavour, to put on their menus, and we have

Nestlé Professional Take the stress out of providing great food and drink. By working with Nestlé Professional you’ll get access to a range of solutions and our committed teams who’s mission it is to make your business a success. Our solutions are carefully designed to suit a range of businesses.

been thrilled to win a number of awards for our vegan products and teams who have worked on this phase of our innovation pipieline, such as the Innovation Team of the Year accolade, presented to us at the BFFF People Awards. “Our other efforts to support health-conscious consumers include working with Public Health England (PHE) to support the government’s aim to reduce sugar consumption by developing our own sugar management pledge of a 20 per cent reduction target by 2020, where commercially and technically viable. We have also been looking at allergens, educating both customers and employees on their importance, and we have launched a special ‘choices brochure’, which looks at areas such as dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and meat-free alternatives to provide choice to customers 71


looking to produce menus inclusive of everyone.”

‘Talking food’ Perhaps understandably, given the size and scale of Bidfood, there seems to be a never-ending stream of news and new developments coming out of the business, and at the time of our interview with Andy, it was also celebrating the launch of its brandnew ‘Street Eats’ concept. “Street food is the one area that our commercial buying team absolutely love, primarily because it is fast paced, short cycled and changes by the season,” he adds. “Street Eats has been a key platform in bringing our 2019 trends to life, showcasing the best food-to-go products and ingredients, and we have been focusing on themes including Great Britain, Americas Discovered, Modern Europe, Asian Appetites, The Middle East and Afro-Caribbean.

“We were also really excited to launch our first-ever podcast recently. Available on iTunes, ‘Talking Food with Bidfood’ focuses on our 2019 trends and features our team of experts exploring these at a macroscopic level, reflecting on how societal changes have influenced what

consumers are choosing to eat and drink.” So, what does Andy consider to be the long-term objectives of the business that he hopes to see it meet in the coming years? “Firstly, we want to continue our development of new builds, ensuring that our businesses continue to be close to our customers,” he explains. “At the same time, we will go on exploring the latest in IT innovation, which is an area we are really interested in developing. We were pleased to win a Real IT award in 2018 for our growth in this field, and our ultimate goal is to work on yet more ways to make our customers’ and our colleagues’ lives easier. “Furthermore, we will continue to embrace the subtle changes in both eating habits, and the health and wellbeing of our customers, so as to remain the first-choice wholesaler to those that desire an extensive choice of own brand and branded products.” D

KP Snacks KP Snacks (part of the Intersnack Group) is the UK’s number one manufacturer of nuts and popcorn, and number two manufacturer of bagged snacks. Home to some of Britain’s most iconic snack brands including McCoy’s, Hula Hoops, Tyrrells, Butterkist, KP Nuts, POM-BEAR, popchips, Skips and Space Raiders, we’ve been the leading driver of growth within CSN over the last five years. We do this by listening carefully to our customers, and responding by creating exciting snacks to meet changing tastes and expectations. We constantly strive to do good for our consumers, the environment, our people and local communities. From the ingredients we use, to the way we develop our colleagues, the local causes we support, to our pledge to reduce plastic across our portfolio – our ‘Taste for Good’ commitment means KP is working to create more happy snacking moments each day. We are passionate about our products and proud of what we do. 75



Accor’s energetic acquisition policy has enabled the hospitality group to grow the world’s best luxury brand portfolio, with the company continuing to create innovative food and beverage concepts all over the world 76


he fact that people have begun to realise that Accor is no longer the company it used to be, but a more luxury-focused hospitality group, means that the organisation’s efforts in the past few years have allowed it to pursue the course it aspires to follow. “We are actively building our portfolio of luxury brands and the major highlights for us

in the last 18 months have been related to the integration of the new names we have acquired,” begins Martin Jones, Vice President, Food & Beverage. Accor’s policy of bringing new brands under its management has seen the company acquire prestigious groups like Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and Orient Express, while also taking a minority share in businesses such as

Accor NIKKEI NINE, Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg © Guido Leifhelm

© Guido Leifhelm

© Jan Brettschneider

Banyan Tree, 25hours Hotels, and Rixos. In addition, Accor took to strategically expanding in the US by virtue of acquiring a stake in SBE – the group that operates the Delano, Mondrian, and SLS brands on the other side of the Atlantic. “Due to luxury taking over a dominant part within the business, we had to change the way we do business, in order to meet the expectations of our

© Guido Leifhelm 77


targeted group of consumers,” Martin discusses. “There are two main areas we are trying to develop our capabilities within – namely, guest satisfaction and food and beverage proposition. Thanks to the acquisition of our new hotels, we have been able to create several strong concepts, which we would happily export to hotels and companies outside the Accor group. Such concepts include Isokyo – an amalgamation of Istanbul and Tokyo – for the Raffles brand, which is a Pan-Asian restaurant, showcasing the best the cuisine the East can offer, and NIKKEI NINE, which is a new concept in Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg.” Recognising Accor’s leading role in food and beverage, Martin has decided to organise the inaugural edition of a conference called Service Included, which will be held in Istanbul in 2020. He elaborates: “I want to get everyone who is responsible for our progress in the field together under one roof for


We have a department called Planet 21 that is looking at all aspects of sustainability. For instance, we apply a sustainable seafood approach, strive to reduce water usage and food waste, and encourage buying from local producers the first time ever. This includes the directors of food and beverage, the executive chefs, the general managers, as well as our procurement teams. It will be an event that will set the stage for where we are at the moment and how we are going to move forward. I am really looking forward to it, because the conference promises to be very exciting,

offering education and networking opportunities, but also providing inspiration for our people who need to understand that we are now a major player that is on its way to achieving even greater success.” Martin’s clear vision of creating excitement around Accor is also informed by his desire to retain as many of his employees for a long time as possible. “The biggest challenge in food and beverage is talent shortage. Some of the jobs we offer, are no longer desirable, because young people are mainly interested in IT-related professions and executing less physical tasks. As a result, we need to become the employer of choice by showing existing and prospective members of staff that we have exciting projects going on, which can really help them grow professionally, while working for some of the best luxury brands in hospitality. “I would also like to mention that for three years now, I have been working 79

Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg Š Guido Leifhelm


Accor hard with our global procurement team and our key partners to make sure that we maintain solid win-win relationships. It is my firm belief that we should be treating these companies as partners and not merely as suppliers. We want to grow with their help, but at the same time, we are willing to provide them support in their own business development,” Martin points out. Internally, Accor has also concentrated on operating in a sustainable manner, taking upon itself the duty to raise awareness of working with consideration for the environment. “We have a department called Planet 21 that is looking at all aspects of sustainability. For instance, we apply a sustainable seafood approach, strive to reduce water usage and food waste, and encourage buying from local producers,” Martin remarks. While vegetarian and vegan options have become a staple on the menu

across all of Accor’s restaurants, the company is currently exploring the opportunity to introduce a wider range of bio-foods to its food and beverage concepts. Martin reveals some of the other experience-enhancing plans the company is hoping to surprise its guests with: “We intend on introducing a wine-by-the-glass programme for all of our luxury hotels in Europe this year. The growth of wine consumption is incredible and we feel that consumers will be pleased with the opportunity.

Ecolab Ecolab is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies, and services that protect people and vital resources. We offer comprehensive products and programs that meet the needs of our customers — from restaurants, hotels and long-term care facilities to schools, commercial buildings and government facilities. Our team of sales and service experts deliver personalised services, and offer a comprehensive range of solutions and data-driven insights to help customers run clean, safe, efficient and sustainable operations. We help our customers guarantee guest and employee safety and satisfaction, as well as protect and enhance their brands.

Notably, we would like to focus on bringing wines from companies operating in countries that are probably not so well-exposed in the market, including Croatia, Hungary, and Turkey. “Furthermore, we will continue improving our breakfast offering, because it is directly linked to guest satisfaction levels and we are also trying to craft a more exciting bar experience, being driven by the importance of the social aspect of being in a hotel,” he adds. “Aside from that, the integration of our new brands continues full steam ahead. We have a lot of plans for Orient Express, while making sure that a brand like Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, which has always been famous for its food and beverage proposition, remains relevant to consumer needs today. I am confident that the dynamic future that awaits us will be exceptionally fruitful for the company.” D 81

Family values

Since 1890, Tunnock’s has been producing exceptional quality confectionery products, including its world famous Caramel Wafer, its iconic Teacakes and much loved Snowballs



he son of a joiner and coffin maker, Thomas Tunnock grew up in the late 1800s in the small South Lanarkshire town of Uddingston. It is there, after leaving school, that he served his apprenticeship at Aberdour Bakery. Having gained a passion for this type of work, he dedicated himself to saving up enough money to purchase his own bakery in the town for the sum of £80 in 1890. With this transaction, Thomas Tunnock (Tunnock’s) the business was formally established. “Under the guidance of Thomas, and later his son Archie, Tunnock’s operated as bakers and purveyors of quality flour confectionery until the 1950s,” begins the company’s Sales Manager, Fergus Loudon. “It was then that four original speciality

items emerged – the Caramel Wafer, Snowball, Caramel Log and Teacake – and consequently, business boomed and several factory extensions followed!” Today, Tunnock’s makes and sells over seven million Caramel Wafers per week, making it the company’s biggest selling product by far. Tunnock’s iconic Teacakes, meanwhile, come in at 3.5 million sales per week, while its other products – Snowballs, Caramel Logs, Wafer Creams and Mini Caramel Wafer tubs – continue to gain in popularity. “With each of our product lines, what we start with is excellent ingredients, before layering on top superior attention to detail and personal service,” Fergus continues. “There is a confidence that our customers gain when they purchase our products, which, I must

Thomas Tunnock Ltd add, have never been reduced in size since their inception in the 1950s. They know when they do so, that they will be of the same great quality that they have always been.” Tunnock’s clearly takes huge pride in providing consumers with a quality product that is also great value for money, and at the heart of maintaining its high standards are its people. “We encourage all of our staff to keep an eye fixed on our products,” Fergus reveals. “As well as having five colleagues working year-round in our quality control department – where they are led by our Quality and Technical Manager – we stress to each and every one of our 600 employees that they too act as quality controllers. We also benefit from having an incredibly loyal team of men and women here, with the average length of unbroken service currently standing at an amazing 22 years. In fact, each year, we celebrate

FMS FOILS GROUP FMS Foils Group is the UK’s leading supplier of printed and laminated aluminium based products. We have over 100 years of experience in our various markets and we are proud to be supplying major brands like Thomas Tunnock’s. Likewise, in the carton board market, we are well recognised by the leading carton printers for supplying metalised and holographic laminates. FMS holds both BRC and FSC accreditation. With a wide range of equipment and regular investment, we manufacture and market a large number of products, including environmentally friendly options, whilst offering flexibility to meet customers’ demands.

the staff who have reached 25 years of service with a night out and presentation of a gold watch.” Such is the continued demand for its core products, Tunnock’s finds itself in a somewhat unique position of not having to focus too strongly on new product development, instead committing time and resources to meeting said existing demand. Adding substance to this is the fact that company turnover has doubled in the last eight years alone. As such, it has had to constantly invest in plant and machinery to increase production and efficiency, with an example of this being a 20,000-sq. ft. extension to its Uddingston facility that was completed in 2018, at a cost of £12 million.

New machinery This three-story extension has allowed it to boost capacity by an extra ten per cent, future proofing the business as it grows. Housing top of the line machinery, 83


Thomas Tunnock Ltd one of the major new additions to the facility is a state-of-the-art wrapping line, which has markedly increased the speed at which the company can wrap its products. Tunnock’s is now examining a further expansion of 10,000-sq. ft. for future usage.

Increased exports The Tunnock’s team is well aware, however, that this is an industry that will always be challenging, and in its accounts filed at Companies House in January 2019, it highlighted the competitive nature of trading conditions when posting a ten per cent rise in sales to £58.1 million. This rise has, in part, been attributed to a surge in exports, which grew in 2018 by 25 per cent – to around £10 million – thanks to the company winning a following in markets across the world. “Saudi Arabia is currently our biggest export market by some distance, however we

T.M. Duché & Sons Ltd T.M. Duché & Sons Ltd is one of Europe’s largest traders in desiccated coconut and coconut oil products. We exclusively represent Primex Coco Products and Coco Davao, manufacturers of some of the highest quality coconut products in the world. We also represent the Primex Synergies Banana Chip plant. We can also supply other quality food ingredients such as edible nuts, dehydrated tropical fruits, thickeners and gelling agents. We believe in providing a high-quality service, backed by a friendly efficient staff, using the latest technology to give clients the highest quality products at the best possible prices.

do export now to around 35 countries, from Australia to the US, and from Japan to Germany. Considering where things all began for the business, it really is amazing where you can now find Tunnock’s products today, from Harry Potter Land or Disneyworld Florida, to the film set of a Hollywood blockbuster,” Fergus states. As of 2019, Tunnock’s continues to be led by its Chairman and MD – and grandson of its founder, the recently knighted Boyd Tunnock, who at 86 years young still works seven days per week (but makes sure to give himself a few hours off on a Sunday to attend church). “Boyd is and will always be an inspiration to us all at Tunnock’s, and under his watch we will do all that we can to ensure that we do our best to keep up with the demand for the products that consumers have come to know and love,” Fergus concludes. D 85

Pies going viral Keen on establishing itself as a premium pork pie brand, Vale of Mowbray is looking to promote its treats across delis and farm shops, while actively using social media to engage with wider audiences



any will argue that, in a globalised world, the distinct character of a regional locale has somewhat waned, giving place to a more uniformed, urbanised culture. In sharp contrast to this tendency, Vale of Mowbray has always proudly defended its origins. Staying true to its roots, the Leeming Bar pork pie producer recently came up with a tagline that emphatically epitomises Yorkshire and the values held by the people living there. “Indeed, the slogan ‘Pies made right’ is in the spirit of what someone from this part of the world might say,” affirms Vale of Mowbray’s Operations Director, Mark Gatenby. “It gets straight to the point that what we do up here, is being done with the best of intention to make it right. By this we do not mean just the pork pies themselves, but our overall approach to the business. This includes the way we treat the people we are working with – be it colleagues, customers, and suppliers – as we base

our professional relationships around respect and ethical behaviour.” The new tagline is just one of the several marketing initiatives Vale of Mowbray has undertaken as part of its objective to raise awareness of the brand. Mark details: “First and foremost, it is our objective to create greater awareness that Vale of Mowbray is a premium brand and one that you can trust, and as part of that further development we are targeting outlets such as delis and farm shops. In the meantime, of course, we will continue holding talks with our major customers and various other outlets. In essence, we would like to generate strong interest mainly from other sectors and, hopefully, this will then bring all types of retailers to our door with requests to stock Vale products.” To meet its objective, Vale of Mowbray intends on regularly adding to its range and growing its presence on social media. “The two are related to each other, more or less, because when we release a new flavour, this will then

Vale of Mowbray enable us to promote it actively on social media platforms, as well as on our own website,” Mark says. “We have definitely started paying a lot more attention to the opportunities provided by the digital world in the past 12 months, running competitions for our online community and sponsoring different events. We have even just engaged the services of a digital marketing expert whose role will be to enhance our brand on the web. “Not long ago, we launched two new flavours – piccalilli pork and spicy piccalilli pork pies. Our customers want variety, they want to try new things and this is our response to their demands,” he moves onto the product side of the business. “There is no doubt that the traditional pork pie remains a best seller for us, but the range involving pickles, such as pork and pickle and cheese and pickle, have grown massively over the last year. We are very keen on developing rather exotic flavours, in order to attract younger customers to our brand. More than anyone, they want to have a choice and, having done our research, the new piccalilli pork flavour was singled out as one that would pique young people’s interest.” In preparation for the increased demand for its pies around the festive period last year, Vale of Mowbray took to expanding its packaging capacity by 50 per cent, partnering with Whitelybased supplier KernPack. “We had previously invested in two flow wrappers from Italian manufacturer GSP (General System Pack) and we were incredibly pleased with the reliability of the machines. Recently, we went out to the market to source a UK supplier of a GSP 75 EVO, which can wrap at speeds up to 400 packs per minute, and we came to the conclusion that KernPack was the right choice,” Mark discusses. With the bakery offering around 40 different products, the new flow wrapper had to be able to accommodate various types of tray and film. “The flexibility of the GSP machine was our main requirement when we were looking for new equipment. The ease and speed of changeover were crucial, as we wanted to reduce downtime as much as possible,” Mark continues. “KernPack did an excellent job for us and the whole

process of getting the machine installed, commissioned, and up-and-running went without a hitch. The flow wrapper is delivering the results we expected it to deliver, but I also think that its fast integration was further facilitated by the fact that we had worked with such a machine before and knew how to make the most of its properties.” Pursuing a ten per cent sales growth in 2019, Vale of Mowbray has already

booked its place at a number of shows and festivals in Yorkshire where the pie producer will display its products and seek greater exposure to the public. “We will be at the Great Yorkshire Show, as well as at a beer festival in the region towards the end of May. I am quite positive about our prospects in the near future as I can see that a lot of the businesses we are working with, want to grow the brand with us, and we look forward to deepening our collaboration with them. “Last but not least, new products will soon be added to our range and while I cannot tell you much about them, one should be out in September, followed by others at regular intervals. In the meantime, do not forget to stay tuned on social media for all the information of what we are up to,” Mark concludes with a clear call to action to Vale of Mowbray’s ever-growing fan base. D 87

Out of the ashes 88

The Ziegenfelder Company Barry Allen

Having started 2019 in one of the worst ways imaginable, The Ziegenfelder Company has utilised both the positivity of its own workforce and the support of the local community to come back from the brink stronger than ever before


o rise like a phoenix from the ashes’ is a phrase which has its origins in a story that dates back thousands of years harking back to the mythological bird that the Greek’s spoke of as rising from the remains of its predecessor. Today, it is often used to describe the act of emerging from a catastrophe stronger than before, which gives it significant meaning for The Zieggy Tribe, the name given to the men and women of The Ziegenfelder Company. The family-owned frozen treat producer is famed for its signature item, Budget Saver Assorted Twin Pops. It is fair to say that January 31st, 2019, will not be a date fondly remembered by the company. It was on this day that a huge fire took hold of its plant on 18th Street in Wheeling, West Virginia, causing extensive damage. “The fire itself was raging for some nine hours, and required the efforts of three fire departments and at least 100 fire personnel to bring under control. However, we were immensely grateful that nobody was injured as a result,” explains Barry Allen, Ziegenfelder’s Chief Customer Officer.

Once the dust settled, the company was able to count the cost of the disaster. Having engulfed a part of the building housing the company’s first production 89

room, the fire destroyed two of its seven production lines, its main office, maintenance department, engine room and several other spaces important in the popsicle-making process. Taking stock of the situation, it would have perhaps been easy for the company to wallow in despair, but what followed in the subsequent weeks was nothing short of astounding. “Thanks to the incredible efforts of our Zieggy Tribe and the amazing outpouring

of support from the local community, we were actually able to get two of our production lines back up and running within 14 days of the fire, with the other three remaining lines functioning nine days later,” Barry proudly declares. “In order to get products manufactured and out to our customers, we also had our mixes brought in via tanker trucks, which arrived six time per day, around the clock. It was also quite the achievement!”

The company was also forward thinking enough to utilise the two weeks between the fire and production restarting to the benefit of their workforce. “I think one of the biggest matters of pride for The Ziegenfelder Company coming out of this incident is that, we have 150 Zieggy Tribe members under our care. Not one of them lost their job as a result of the fire,” Barry states. “Each day we brought everyone in, served breakfast, provided an operational update and then held training sessions in everything from food safety to leadership. We also had members of the community come in to deliver life skills advice, which was of equally great value.”

Dedicated to people The community also came together to raise nearly $50,000 for Ziegenfelder’s employees. “Given the scale of the damage caused by the fire, many expected us to be unable to pay our Zieggy Tribe while production stopped,” Barry says. “Fortunately, that was not the case, so what we have done is create a special fund that will be ultimately distributed back to our people. If they ever fall into financial difficulty, they can apply to receive emergency financial support.” If you believe in karma – specifically getting back that which one puts in – then the local response to the fire at Ziegenfelder’s plant could be considered all the more appropriate given the work the company itself has done over the years to provide real opportunities to others. Under the stewardship of its CEO, Lisa Allen, the company has long been proactive in helping employ people with steady work, who might otherwise find it difficult to get a job. It does so through a wide variety of hiring practices that include, but aren’t limited to, re-entry employment opportunities for ex-prisoners, various work release programs, and entry points for those recovering from addiction. The company is committed to hiring and developing a workforce richly diverse in terms of professional and life experiences. “We are constantly working to be recognised as one of the best places to work, not only in our industry but


The Ziegenfelder Company throughout America as well, and these efforts never stop,” Barry tells us. “Among the many new ideas that we are developing are the establishment of a people and culture department, employee housing programs, family scholarships, and the appointment of in-house counsellors and experts to provide our people with the support they may need. We also want to ensure that the life experience of all Zieggy Tribe members is a rewarding one. We want them to know that they have a safe, friendly place to work and they will be given the same opportunities to grow and become better individuals. What it ultimately comes down to is achieving Lisa’s vision for Ziegenfelder to be not only a popsicle-producing company, but a people-producing one as well!” While the overall market for its products has remained fairly flat in recent years, Ziegenfelder has been able to sustain a pattern of growth thanks to the popularity of its products. Budget Saver pops not only look and taste good, but they are priced at a level that means that everyone can enjoy them. As well as continuing to push its core ranges, the company is using 2019 and 2020 to extend the distribution of two other lines, one being its SONIC Drive-In slushed pops and its Budget Saver Sour Monster Pops creations. Meanwhile, from an infrastructure perspective, the company intends to open a new production line in 2019, and another in 2020, while incorporating a number of automated processes to its equipment to further streamline its production activities.

determined to uphold has no doubt been tested like never before in the last several months. Yet it is this very culture – shared by every member of its Zieggy Tribe – that has helped it overcome such adversity. “In spite of all that has

happened, we passionately believe we have come out as a better business than ever before, and that is the best silver lining we could have asked for,” Barry concludes. D

Moving forward Looking back on the events of the last several months, Barry points out the company has learned plenty about the way it operates and about its own ethos. “Where previously we may have been guilty of focusing solely on production, we recognise the need to focus on the key pillars that make up our business. Those are food safety, health and safety, finance, people and production. By finding the right balance in juggling these areas, we will continue to improve as we take the business forward.” The ‘can do’ attitude that The Ziegenfelder Company has long been 91

Treats for every occasion

The Egg Free Cake Box’s one-of-a-kind proposition in the cake market has enabled the company to become a muchloved national brand in just a decade with excellent prospects for future growth



ack in 2008, the inability of Sukh Chamdal to source an eggless cake for his daughter’s birthday, who is a lactose-vegetarian, prompted him to produce a recipe of his own. With the help of a Government grant and the South Bank University, a recipe was born. Coupled with the use of fresh cream, The Eggfree Cake Box was established, in turn creating a whole new market. “We effectively created a whole new market segment,” the company’s CEO, Sukh Chamdal, exclaims. “Our approach is nothing short of exceptional across the retail sector, because we are capable of offering our customers the convenience they want. Nowadays, we are all so busy that we do not want to wait for anything. This is where The Egg Free Cake Box is winning in the market – we give our customers the flexibility to either just pop in at one of our stores, order a cake and get it personalised on the spot for no extra charge, or order online and collect in a hassle-free fashion.” He gives an example inspired from the company’s own experience to back

his claim: “One of the peak times during the year for us is when the GCSE and A-levels results are announced. Parents and relatives do not know for sure what their children have achieved, but once they find out, they hasten to get a cake with a personalised message and we are able to do that for them in no time.” An eggless cake may sound a bit unusual at first, but Sukh insists that the taste of The Egg Free Cake Box’s products is so skilfully developed that no one really misses the eggs or even detects their absence. “While it is impossible for me to reveal the secret to the sumptuous taste we achieve, I will say that we certainly put in extra tender love and care,” he smiles. “We couple this with exceptional customer service, giving our clients exactly what they want. Without our customers we would not exist, so we make sure we satisfy their demands, and the greatest reward for our efforts is seeing that all of the cakes in our range are extremely popular with people,” Sukh enthuses. “There is no way I can pinpoint one particular cake that stands

The Egg Free Cake Box Sukh Chamdal, CEO (left), Pardip Dass, CFO (centre), Dr Jaswir Singh, COO (right)

out, but our fresh fruit-topped and chocolate cakes are certainly among the best sellers. I should also note that our slices are quite large, which means that we offer very good value for money.” At The Egg Free Cake Box, R&D never stops. The company is constantly working on new products and it has just introduced its version of a red velvet cake with natural beetroot colour. “What is more, we have also launched a variety of loaf cakes – lemon drizzle, mixed fruit, carrot, and almond and cherry. We are also just about to release a range of vegan loaf cakes, as well as eggless French macaroons,” Sukh reveals. Due to its phenomenal early success, The Egg Free Cake Box adopted a franchise model only a year after it launched and it has taken the company only ten years to become a nationwide business. Today, The Egg Free Cake Box has a total of 116 branches all over the UK and its immediate goal is to take this figure to 250. “We are planning to open two shops per month and once we meet our objective, we will sit down and reassess it. There are lots of opportunities for us in the market, in places like shopping centres and supermarkets in the future,” Sukh comments. “As a company, we provide our franchisees with a turnkey package and unlike other franchisors we do not levy any management service charge or marketing fees. In addition, our strong senior management team offers full training and ongoing guidance to help our franchisees run the stores successfully. Crucially, the opportunity allows them to strike a much better work-life balance. Our franchisees are happy people who are committed to building the business, but who also value the quality of their life outside of work,” he discusses. “In general, we attract a lot of female franchisees and shop staff who make up the majority of the approximately 1000 work force across the whole estate of The Egg Free Cake Box and who feel empowered by the opportunity to work for themselves,” Sukh adds. “Furthermore, we also have a lot of professionals like accountants and pharmacists who are willing to undertake

a career change, in order to improve their work-life balance.” The Egg Free Cake Box’s continued expansion has led the company to purchase two new warehouse and distribution centres in Coventry and Bradford, which will help support the company’s future growth. Sponge production at the new centres will enable the company to reduce its distribution costs and provide a backup to its

existing production facility in Enfield. The new warehouses Sukh notes: “The new facilities help support our disaster recovery plan as we grow, because if something happens in one depot, we will be able to react from another without disrupting operations. Our business is also committed to the highest standards of CSR and the opening of these facilities means that no shop in the country will be more than 90 minutes away from our depots. This will cut mileage and reduce our environmental impact.” Going forward, Sukh envisages more of the same for The Egg Free Cake Box in the years to come. “New products, new working methods and, ultimately, the continued growth of the business are definitely on the horizon. We regard our products as a treat and we will continue to pamper our customers, complementing their special occasions,” he concludes. D 93

Only the best is good enough Introducing its Southeast Asia customers to the finest products they can get, Indoguna continues to grow at astonishing pace by constantly developing its house brands and ecommerce proposition



t is only by following a maxim like Indoguna Singapore’s, which postulates that only the best is good enough, can you hope to grow to a multimillion business. Dedicated to sourcing the finest the world has to offer and serving it to the end user, the food products supplier has made a name for itself as a leading business in Southeast Asia’s food and beverage industry. Established in 1993, Indoguna’s turnover in 2018 was $62 million, and the healthy financial condition of the company is a result of its consistency in expanding its product range. Indoguna believes in offering a diverse and exciting selection of products, meeting and maintaining the highest quality standards and offering prices that are competitive in the marketplace. Drawn by this promise, the company’s clients hail from the professional food community in Singapore and include some of the island’s top hotels and restaurants, gourmet shops, supermarkets, and airline caterers.

Quality and food safety are the most important values exhibited by Indoguna. The organisation’s neverending pursuit of quality produce has driven it to continuously provide its customers with surprising ingredients, hard to find products, and produce from well-known farmers and fishermen. In 2008, Indoguna was certified with ISO 9001:2008, which gave the business a structured form of guidance on quality management. Six years later, another important certification followed – ISO 22000:2005, which specifies requirements for a food safety management system where an organisation in the food chain needs to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards, in order to ensure that the food is safe at the time of human consumption. Over the years, Indoguna has developed a number of flagship brands that have firmly established themselves as consumer favourites. Starting with Carne Meats, this selection of premium sausages, patties, and delis,

Indoguna is being painstakingly handcrafted from the freshest ingredient chosen by Indoguna’s master butcher. Bursting with flavour and 100 per cent natural, the Carne Meats products perfectly represent what Indoguna is all about.

Finest quality Ocean Gems is another trademark brand offered by the company and the name has not been chosen by accident. Literally every single piece of seafood is carefully chosen, cleaned, processed, and packed within a few hours of coming out of the ocean, so that its natural taste and freshness are sealed. Be it scallops, prawns, or crabmeat, the consumer is invited to unleash their imagination and create unforgettable dishes with the freshest ingredients, free of preservatives or chemicals products. Described as ‘a masterpiece in its own league’, Indoguna’s Masterpiece range of dim sum and ready-to-use products boasts creations born out of a true artisan’s passion. Combining the best ingredients in well-tested formulas of exact proportions with qualitycontrolled production processes, the result is a range that brings inspiration to titillate and satisfy each taste and palate. Whether it is a dumpling, a pau, or a spring roll, Indoguna takes pride in crafting and delivering an unparalleled range of premium, flavourful, and, yet, convenient products promised to delight. A little bit of French charm is always welcome to any menu and for this reason, Indoguna’s close collaboration with numerous leading pastry and bakery producers has created and perfected the C’est Bon range of tart shells, cones, pastries, and baked goods. Great attention to detail at every stage of the process – from deciding on the right sizes, shapes, and flavours, right down to the suitable packaging – defines the C’est Bon treats, whose perfect texture is hard, if not impossible, to resist. Created with a particular focus on delivering the best possible quality of meats and poultry, Just Meat is another of Indoguna’s brands that has met with success. The selection’s main advantage is that it comes from animals that have not been fed with growth promotants or added hormones, which underlines

Indoguna’s respect for the health and safety of both the livestock and the consumers.

Gourmet produce Last but not least, the supplier’s two online stores – Maxzi The Good Food Shop and – represent the steps Indoguna has taken within the realm of food ecommerce. With shopping habits clearly changing, the company has now positioned itself to capitalise on the new characteristics of consumer behaviour. Strictly following Indoguna’s philosophy of only the best being good enough, Maxzi The Good Food Shop operates in the UAE, offering a selection of foods that include non-GMO, artfully crafted ingredients, locally grown and organic produce, meats, poultry, and seafood from ranchers with ethical animal welfare standards, and artisanal charcuterie, all chosen with deliciousness and nutrition

at the centre of its considerations. Not too dissimilar to Maxzi The Good Food Shop is sg’s offering, which first saw the light of day in 2007. The platform is known to have facilitated the access to fine gourmet produce, enabling people at home to recreate all the mouth-watering recipes they have come across with no difficulty at all. From full-blood Wagyu beef to farmed caviar, truffles, and even artisanal cheeses, everything is just a click away. In conclusion, having spent more than 25 years in Singapore, Indoguna has developed the ability to foresee growth in the food and beverage industry. Therefore, the company continually tweaks its logistics and hardware, looking to strengthen its offering and ensure it stays at the forefront of the food and beverage supply industry for many years to come. D 95

Spirit of the Nordics Arcus is the proud standard-bearer of aquavit – the traditional alcoholic drink in the Nordic countries, holding the majority of the market share in this niche category




umerous are the reasons that have led to the recentlyrenewed interest in the social, cultural, and economic state of the Nordic countries. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland regularly occupy the top spots on various tables measuring happiness and well-being and these countries are often portrayed as modern-day havens, thanks to their successful implementation of the welfare state concept. The Nordic model, as it is known, is an extraordinary blend of the promotion of individual autonomy and social mobility, protection of the workforce (with it being highly unionised), and commitment to private ownership and the basic principles of free market capitalism. As a result, the Nordic countries are among those with the highest quality of life worldwide and a popular destination for expats and tourists alike. It would not be a far cry from the truth if we said that Arcus is one of the Nordic companies with the highest potential to ‘export’ the region’s beverages heritage. The Norway-headquartered organisation is the leading distributor of aquavit – the authentic Nordic spirit and a staple in Scandinavian drinking culture, having made great strides in its overseas activities in recent times. “Aquavit has some similarity to gin, but instead of deriving its flavour from juniper, it is made with caraway or dill seeds,” explains Erlend Stefansson, Head of Arcus’ Spirits division. “Our brand has a history, which dates back to 1805 when the Linie aquavit first travelled from Norway to Indonesia and the Far East on a ship, acquiring its distinct taste during the journey.” Here is a fascinating story shared by Erlend: “When a group of Norwegian merchants set out on a two-year journey from Trondheim in that year, they loaded their ship with all kinds of merchandise. To their astonishment, when they returned, they discovered that the taste of the spirit they had brought with them was very different from the one it had at departure. The uniqueness of the Linie aquavit lies in the fact that it undergoes a fast maturation process as it travels around the world and is subjected to different meteorological conditions, such as various humidity levels and temperatures, which give the spirit its milder taste. “Impressive as it may sound, the tradition of the Linie aquavit travelling from Norway to The Far East (now Australia) and back again to develop its taste, continues to this day. It is a journey that takes four months and for those who want to 97

follow it, it is being streamed live on,” he adds. Arcus has been operating in the wine and spirits market since 1996, following

the demerger of the state-owned Vinmonopolet, and has been privatelyowned since 2005. The change of its ownership model has enabled the

company to grow considerably in size and in 2016, it was even listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. “We also have a track record of strategic acquisitions, the most notable of which came in 2013 when we purchased Denmark’s leading aquavit company in Aalborg, covering the Aalborg and Malteserkreuz aquavits and the Gammel Dansk bitter,” Erlend points out, moving on to discuss the commercial side of the business. “By operating two of the biggest brands within the aquavit sector, we have been able to secure some 60 per cent of the market share globally and we distribute our products to approximately 30 different countries. While the bulk of the business is in the Nordic countries and Germany, we also ship substantial volumes to the US, the UK, France, the Benelux, Spain, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.”

New product development In order to create the best possible proposition for each of its markets, Arcus works tirelessly on developing new products that are tailored to the specific requirements of the geographical area they are being sold within. “There are some important differences in consumer preferences in the countries where we are present and for us to keep our finger on the pulse, we have established local sales and marketing offices in all the Nordic countries, Germany, and the US. Taking into consideration the feedback we receive from these organisations, we adapt our products and release between 30 and 40 new variants across these markets every year,” Erlend comments. The flexibility displayed by Arcus in new product development has inevitably helped the company become a leading spirits operator, as the business is now no.1 in the Norwegian market, no.2 in Denmark, no.5 in Sweden, and no.6 in Finland. In addition, Arcus is the biggest aquavit company in Germany. “We can see an increased interest from all over the world in Linie aquavit, in particular,” Erlend reveals. “More and more bartenders and mixologists discover this unique product and start


Arcus using it in their cocktails. I believe that they are fascinated by its authenticity, because this is what consumers want nowadays – they are keen on choosing original brands whose story can be traced, and we are certainly winning on this trend.”

The big picture Together with distributing purely Nordic spirits, Arcus is also the regional representative for a number of international brands such as Bushmills, Jose Cuervo, Kraken, Label 5, Negrita, Plantation Rum, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Fireball, Glen Moray, and Clontarf. Erlend highlights the key strengths the company possesses that have allowed it to gain the trust of its foreign leading spirits brands: “As it became clear, we have a very strong presence on every level in all the Nordic markets. Our knowledge and competencies in the region are especially valued by our partners, because we have adopted a sort of a ‘think global, act local’ approach. Although the company’s headquarters is in Norway, we have two directors living in Denmark and one in Sweden who are part of the integrated management team we have in place that has the ability to work across the separate markets, while keeping an eye on the wider picture.” The seamless succession of the processes run by Arcus is ensured by the state-of-the-art facility the company opened in 2012. Being one of Europe’s most modern production, bottling, warehousing and logistics sites for spirits and wine, Arcus’ complex even features its own coopers’ area where professionals make and refurbish casks and barrels. “We are the only company in the Nordics to employ our own coopers,” Erlend states proudly. “Other than that, we have every type of facility that can be expected from a spirits operator, including cask maturation and bottling zones, a logistics building, a warehouse, and sales and admin offices. “From the start, the facility was conceived as one that was going to use only sustainable energy sources and much less water than most other companies,” he continues, drawing

our attention to some of the practices Arcus has established to guarantee that it continually operates in a socially responsible manner. “We are currently working on introducing recyclable packaging and we partner with various interest groups in Norway to promote responsible drinking. Last but not least, we are fully committed to keeping HSEinjuries at the lowest possible level.” In conclusion, Erlend names the overarching goal before Arcus in the years to come: “We want to make aquavit a true global trend and we are pleased to report that we are already seeing some encouraging results. In Germany, for example, it has been selected as the most important emerging trend for a second year running, and we hope this will develop further not just there, but across all of Europe, and the US, as our presence in these markets is growing stronger than ever.” D 99


Belvoir Fruit Farms

Fruits of one’s labour Purveyors of naturally delicious cordials, pressés and fruit crushes, Belvoir Fruit Farms has been making its fine products the same way since 1984, and continues to break new ground with innovative new concoctions


estled deep within the English countryside – in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, to be precise – Belvoir Fruit Farms (BFF) has been making some of the finest fruit cordials and presses since it was first founded as a drinks business in 1984. Renowned for its elderflower drinks – BFF’s Elderflower Cordial remains its flagship product – to this day the company uses the same recipe developed by its cofounder, Mary Manners, pressing fresh fruit and infusing flowers to mix with spring water. In the years since, BFF has expanded its beverage range to include a wide collection of flavours, producing more than 40 products which have won countless awards. The first was a Great Taste Award in 2001 for its Elderflower Cordial, with success continuing in the subsequent years up to, and including, 2018, when the same product won ‘Best Beverage at the Sainsbury’s Magazine Awards, and BFF was also presented with a Grocer ‘New Product’ Award and a Food & Drink Expo ‘Great New Idea’ Award for its Botanical Juniper & Tonic. “BFF has, since day one, always been about quality and service, and those things have very much been the key to our success,” begins Production Director, Frank Fitzgibbons. “Today, New Product Development (NPD) is the lifeblood of the business, as we have found it vital that we not simply remain competitive, but work to be at the leading edge of industry trends. The biggest KPI and objective for both

our NPD and Procurement teams is the sourcing of the best quality ingredients and packaging, with the appropriate time given to said teams to bring in these ingredients from all corners of the globe. “As recently as March 2019, we made the leap into the mixers market, launching four new products, predominantly for the impulse trade and market sectors. We successfully introduced our ‘light’ range in 2016, and these lines have proved extremely popular. Our NPD team is constantly looking at new flavours using only natural ingredients, and we pride ourselves at being adept at launching products, with some ideas going from conception to production in less than six months!”

Capacity improvements Since its inception, BFF has experienced significant growth, both in terms of revenue and volumes, and today it boasts a turnover of some £22.5 million per annum, with unit volume output reaching levels of approximately 27 million bottles and 13.5 million litres. From its purpose-built, 28,000 square foot facility – which it moved into in 2015 – BFF operates a two-shift system and has two fully automated bottling lines, packing both still (cordial) and ready-to-drink (carbonated) products. “We are constantly investing in the business, be that in the form of equipment, marketing or human resources,” Frank continues. “In addition to having the space for an expansion to a third bottling line, we have recently invested in a brand new 60 valve 101


Belvoir Fruit Farms mono-bloc filling machine with both ROPP and Crown cap capability. We have also added a new carbonator mixer (pre-mix unit), and upgraded our palletising and pallet wrapping equipment this year. In addition to ensuring and improving product quality, all of the aforementioned equipment has made – and will continue to make – a significant contribution, resulting in our throughputs increasing by approximately 40 per cent. This in turn creates a significant improvement in our capacity.”

Innovative ideas Another area of the business to have experienced strong progress in recent years has been BFF’s export activities. “While we have always had a focus in one form or another on export markets, this side of BFF has grown considerably over the last three years or so,” Frank states. “Today, we have distribution

channels in Europe, Scandinavia, North America, Australia and Japan, with exports now accounting for an estimated 20 per cent of our total business.” With all of the above reference growth, the company has understandably had to focus on the recruitment and development of its people. “It is vital that we have the right staff in the right place, at the right time,” Frank proclaims. “This requires

considerable time resource with regards to training. As such, we have several training initiatives constantly on the go. Our people are, of course, extremely important to us, and we want to support their individual growth as they continue to help to generate BFF’s success.” Obtaining, and just as importantly retaining, a position as a leader in one’s market requires a business to be aware of, and respond to, industry trends. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that BFF continues to move with the times, most recently by reacting to the drive towards reduced sugar and no-added sugar products. As Frank goes on to conclude: “We at BFF are constantly looking for new opportunities in the marketplace, whether they are innovative ideas that are introduced by ourselves, or simply making improvements to our existing products. What never changes however is our commitment to quality!” D 103


H&S Restaurants

Bravely moving forward

A successful franchisee of McDonald’s, H&S Restaurants is active in the development of its people and trying out new concepts, in order to continually delight its customers


he combination of working with good people, staying relevant to its customers, and being brave enough to invest, has been revealed as the secret to H&S Restaurants’ success in the last 12 years by its owner, Nigel Dunnington. A franchisee of McDonald’s since November 2006, Nigel now operates a total of 14 restaurants in Preston and Blackpool and has experienced significant growth in that time. “We have seen a lot of changes in the way McDonald’s connects with its customers,” he begins. “Twelve years ago, you either used the Drive Thru’ or ordered your food in the restaurant and were served traditionally by a member of staff who took your order. While these options are still available today, the world in which we all live has moved on significantly. Today technology plays a much bigger role in our customers lives and we have had to ensure that we have stayed ahead so now we have so many ways that our customers can order from us and these are set to continue to grow in popularity.” What Nigel refers to are the touchscreen kiosks installed across McDonald’s restaurants that enable visitors to place an order and go to the counter to collect it, or even more conveniently select the table service option where the customers food is brought to them at their table. “In addition, people can now order via our mobile app and our investment in McDelivery is also ensuring that we have a big presence in this area too. This is an incredible growth area that responds to the way our customers now live their lives and we are set to ensure that we make the most of this because of the investment we have all made. 105

“I think the main benefit of the advent of technology is that every customer gets food that is prepared specifically for them. A few years ago, we would prepare, say, a cheeseburger in advance and keep it in the holding area for a maximum of ten minutes, whereas today, everything is made to order, we start assembling a meal only when the order for it comes through,” he explains. “Investment in technology is a necessity if we are to stay relevant to our customers,” Nigel continues. “Visitors expect me to make investments that enhance their experience, and so do my staff. Yes, this area does require significant investment not only in infrastructure but also for training and developing our team, but when you think about it, there is also a cost to not investing, which cannot always be seen. We need to stay relevant to our customers and be there when and where they want us, these are just a commercially astute decisions.” As a result of this policy, the last few years have borne witness to the expansion of all 14 restaurants run by Nigel. Furthermore, he has demonstrated


willingness to level up the business’ recyclability efficiency by placing separate bins for liquids, plastics, and paper items in the dining areas and encouraging restaurant visitors to be

more conscious of where they dispose of their rubbish. The unprecedented growth of the business means that Nigel is constantly facing the need to hire more staff, with the training and development of his workforce being another area where he directs his investment. “There is a difference in the type of work our staff members are doing, compared to their roles ten years ago. Nowadays, our priority is to ensure that we offer a great experience to every customer, so whereas ten years ago we may have prioritised the kitchen areas today we place much more focus on the teams who look after our customers on the dining area and front counter,” he points out. “I genuinely believe that people are the heartbeat of any business and if you have a motivated bunch of employees, they are going to help you achieve your goals. Good well trained and motivated people will lead to good sales and good sales help your profitability. Driven by this philosophy, we have a strong focus on providing our employees with valuable skills and, right now, I have about 50 people going through various

H&S Restaurants levels of apprenticeship. My personal pledge is in full harmony with that of McDonald’s, as both parties want everyone who has gone through our training to leave the company in as better people, than they were when they first joined us. There are a few people who leave after a couple of years’, including university students who get a part-time job with us to help fund their education, and it is our utmost desire to see them leave better educated, better qualified, and with better understanding of life itself,” Nigel expounds.

Customer options Discussing the disciplines, the employees are being trained in, he notes that there is a mix of formal McDonald’s courses and more informal internal H&S Restaurants’ schemes. “For example, if an hourly-paid employee has the aspiration of becoming a manager, then, they need to go to one of McDonald’s Hamburger Universities where leadership courses specific to the company are being delivered. In parallel, I organise various development and team-building sessions within our group. We have also just held an event with Mind, the mental health body to discuss some of the issues the young people of today face today. Out of the 1350 employees we have, around 40 per cent are under 18, however 25 per cent are over 25 years old with around 50 staff being over 50, so it is important that we do all we can to support them and to support our managers in helping them to help themselves.” At the end of our conversation, Nigel talks of how McDonald’s overcame a period of slight decline in the late 1990s and the 2000s, focusing on the new items that have been added to the menu in recent years and the popularity they have enjoyed, particularly within his own restaurants. “There was a time when McDonald’s lost a bit of relevance, but since then, we have had 50+ consecutive quarters of growth, which is unbelievable for a business like ours. H&S has been able to capitalise on trends around Big Flavour Wraps, salads, and porridge, and we have been selling a lot of these, alongside all other products you would expect from McDonald’s like Big Macs

and Chicken McNuggets, having a menu that offers choice is vital, this allows people more options to make the right decisions for their needs. “Coffee sales have also grown massively, and in my opinions it’s not only the best coffee but the best value coffee you can buy. Consumers’ tastes have developed in the past 20 years, so, instead of just ordering a cup of tea or white coffee, they now want Cappuccinos or Flat Whites and we are able to provide these at an affordable price. The same goes for Frappes and smoothies, which we have made more accessible for those who want to try them. Three years ago, you could pay over £3 to get a smoothie, now you can get one for £1.99 with us,” Nigel reveals. “The truth is that nobody knows the future,” he says with regards to the trends that might emerge in the coming years. “You can do as much research as you want, to predict what consumers

will go for and predict future trends, but sometimes you have to leap into the unknown, too. Collectively at McDonald’s we review the evidence and we work together to identify the right approach and solutions for the future, that is where the strength of this business lies. You need to be brave and to continue to invest in new concepts. Standing still is not an option, we have to continually delight and surprise our customers if we want to remain successful,” Nigel concludes. D 107

Constantly evolving

Fuller, Smith & Turner (Fuller’s) is an energetic brewing company and pub and hotel operator, whose obsession with learning and improvement raises its quality bar time and time again 108


hallenging itself all the time has become a way of life for Fuller’s. Founded in 1845 by three gentlemen – John Bird Fuller, Henry Smith, and John Turner – the independent family brewer has continued to create top-quality craft beer over time, whilst also expanding the business, which now involves an extensive portfolio of pubs and hotels. Discussing the company’s unflinching commitment to continual improvement, is its Director of Food, Paul Dickinson, who takes us behind the scenes to

introduce the values and processes Fuller’s adheres to, with particular focus on the food side of the business. “We are very energetic in developing every single aspect of our proposition, because we want to make sure that the highest standards we have set ourselves, are maintained on every level,” Paul states, beginning to pick out the various elements that are essential to Fuller’s operation. “Starting with our supply chain, one of the major improvements we made in the last few years, was to bring some

Fuller, Smith & Turner

Personally, I visit every supplier frequently. For example, I often check the quality and the welfare of our animals, because we buy the whole carcass and find a way to use every part of it. Therefore, the meat has to be of the highest quality

order to it. About eight years ago, we had lots of different suppliers doing the same thing at different prices, so it was a bit chaotic and quite inefficient,” he remarks. “We want to work with people who share our values and can deliver to them. Quality, of course, has always come in the first place, but we would then look at the nature of the business and we can say with uninhibited pride that all of our suppliers, bar two, are family companies, who, just like us, value long-standing relationships. We view our supply chain as an extended

part of our family and we are more than happy to tell our suppliers’ story.” Moreover, Fuller’s has also set up a robust internal structure in which multiple departments collaborate to guarantee that only the best products are sent out to the company’s establishments. “We have a food buyer who works with myself and the Head of Procurement, so that we can take the right decisions regarding our

supply chain. Personally, I visit every supplier frequently. For example, I often check the quality and the welfare of our animals, because we buy the whole carcass and find a way to use every part of it. Therefore, the meat has to be of the highest quality. It is the same with fish. Every year, we serve some 900,000 portions of fish and chips, so I monitor the process of fish harvesting closely. We are also quite flexible with 109

our menus and can easily switch from haddock to cod, or vice versa, depending on the time of the year and the variations in harvesting, so that we can always offer the best fish to our guests,” Paul explains.

Customer feedback Taking pride in the amazing pub experience it creates, Fuller’s invests heavily in enhancing its performance, both front of house and in the kitchen. Paul elaborates: “We want to have the right dining space for our visitors where they can feel comfortable and have a fantastic time. It is interesting to mention that in the last six years, we have noticed that more and more ladies dine out more frequently, so we had to look at the interior of our restaurants to make them more inviting for this particular group of guests. “On top of that, we spend a lot of time training our chefs in our


cooking schools to help them fulfil their potential. We do not teach them dishes, we teach them skills. Even at the time of speaking, I am reviewing our Christmas dishes with our chefs, discussing what we did well and what we can improve in the year ahead. We take customer feedback on board, as well, so we can get the full picture. We challenge our processes, in order to optimise them and enable our chefs to always be on their A-game,” he continues. Another theme Paul is especially keen on expounding, is creativity, and both Fuller’s and his own drive for pushing the boundaries of imagination provides a good explanation for the company’s longevity and success. “Creativity starts with nostalgia. The birth of my third child got me thinking of things I had forgotten and it made me realise that while you cannot reinvent nature, you can revisit foods

Fuller, Smith & Turner and memories, and breed innovative ideas out of your previous experiences. You never stop learning and that is the beautiful thing about being a human being. If you can constantly apply this mindset in the environment you are working in, you will feel rewarded and the benefit is for those you are selling to. The difficult part for us as a business is to remain consistent in how we serve our food. We are open to feedback and we know how important it is to learn if you want to grow.”

Health awareness When talking about consumer behaviour nowadays, it is impossible not to mention the increase in consumption of vegan products, most notably in the West. “People in Asia have been eating plant-based diets for centuries, but only recently, all of a sudden, the Western world realised that they are very good for health,” Paul points out. “This notion is being led by the millennials, who are essentially the people of the future, and who have come to understand that looking after the sustainability of the planet is equal to looking after your health. For me, this is an interesting shift in preferences, which provides plenty of opportunities to learn new concepts and work our menus around them.” Health awareness is projected to continue to occupy Fuller’s thoughts in the coming years and, according to Paul, the business’ approach towards ensuring the right nutritional value in its dishes, will be one of the determinants of its future success. “People will become more healthconscious and there will be an even more clearly observable divisive line between the foods that are really healthy and fresh and the pre-made meals full of calories. We need to embrace these changes and position ourselves on the right side. “The other key focus area for us in the next five years, will be the continuous development of our people,” he adds. “We have now got 150 apprentices, which we treat as the future of the company. I love working with these young people and I learn

from them every week. It is impressive to see how they are striving for perfection and how willing they are to learn from their mistakes. It would put a big smile on my face if, regardless of where their career path takes them, some of the people who are going through our scholarship programme turn back in five or ten years’ time and say: ‘My time at Fuller’s was the turning point of my career.’ “Finally, I would add that, if a company wants to succeed in the UK and in the present business environment, it has to find its authentic spirit and stay true to its values. We believe that Fuller’s demonstrates the right attitude in our relationships with our employees, suppliers, and customers, alike, and we have all the necessary ingredients to move forward in the years to come,” Paul concludes elatedly. D 111



Nourishing food for dogs Butcher’s™ believes every pet has the right to eat great food. It uses natural ingredients for maximum nutrition, with no nasties such as artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. In fact, everything your pet needs and nothing it doesn’t


or over 30 years, familyrun company Butcher’s has stood out from the crowd by doing things ‘The Butcher’s Way’. Founded by the Baker family, originally as a butcher shop in Rugby, Warwickshire, it was under the second generation of Baker’s that it first applied an in-depth knowledge of meat to the development of the original Butcher’s tripe recipe food for dogs, which became an instant success when it went on sale in 1987. Since then, the passion and devotion of its people have helped the business to extend and enhance its range of food for dogs and cats, and establish itself as the number two brand among wet food producers in the UK. The aforementioned Butcher’s Way dictates how the company uses its knowledge and experience to ensure that its shoppers’ pets get the natural nourishment that allows them to thrive. This means never using artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, incorporating a well-balanced mix of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, and carefully sourcing ingredients from British and Irish farms. Rachel Collinson, Butcher’s Director of its Dog Business Unit, joined the business approximately two years ago and, as she explains, what first became abundantly clear about Butcher’s was its passion for the products it makes. she says. “This passion, I think,

goes right back to the heritage of the company and exists today as a thread that runs through the company’s DNA. Having worked in the food industry for more than 20 years – in almost all the different sectors – Butcher’s represents my first foray into pet food, and it was obvious to me from the start that this is a special company trying to do the right things for its shoppers.” At the heart of all of its recipes – and there are many, ranging from those targeting puppy development, sensitive stomachs, adult dogs and those of a more mature age – are what the company refers to as its ‘Super Foods’. Whether it be meat, vegetable or wholegrain, Butcher’s only uses natural ingredients that will provide pets with the nourishing food that they would naturally choose. “Butcher’s has never been about creating overly fancy recipes just for the sake of being ‘ontrend’, rather we are all about creating great food that your pet would chose,” Rachel adds.

Healthy choices Over the last few years the company has continued to invest considerable funds in improving product quality, itself a part of a much wider programme of investment which, over three years, will have seen a total of £25 million put back into the business to ensure that it is fit for the future. “We know that not every dog owner 113

feeds their pet in the same way, but what we want is for every dog to be able to get great food that comes at an affordable price,” Rachel continues. “To achieve that goal, we need to be flexible in the way we present our products to shoppers, giving them a healthy choice of how to access Butcher’s, whether they be a purchaser of cans or trays.” As we go on to discover, 2018 was a particularly significant year for the company as it marked the unveiling


of a brand-new look for its entire dog food range. The simple, modern blue design focuses on Butcher’s farm to bowl ethos, while conveying its passion for using great ingredients that dogs love. When discussing this re-launch, Rachel is refreshingly honest about how it came about. “Around the time that I joined the business, the brand, was in something of a decline having lost traction with new shoppers,” she says. “Our loyal customers knew about

Butcher’s the product and its quality, but we needed to conduct market research to properly identify what new shoppers wanted from this category, and the great news was that for the vast majority it all comes down to the food itself. “Modern shoppers want better quality food for their dogs, with roughly 90 per cent of responders stating that they wanted this, but at an affordable price, which is what Butcher’s has always been about. This re-launch, therefore, has been all about highlighting this fact, and ensuring that every dog owner knows that, with Butcher’s, they can access fantastic products that their dogs will love. As a result, we have already started to see brand penetration growth for the first time in three years, and we look forward to adding to this further still with the rollout of a national television advertising campaign, set to hit the screens in April.”

Focused purely on cats’ health & wellbeing, the brand only uses the best, high quality ingredients in their recipes. Blink! sources human grade, British meat & fish fillets where possible- with 90 per cent of their raw materials sourced from in the UK. Moving into 2019, Butcher’s began the year by celebrating picking up the award for Best Brand Sustainability Initiative at Tesco’s Household and Pet Supplier Conference. This award was in recognition of the company committing to remove the equivalent of 4.2 million plastic bottles from its supply chain by replacing the shrink wrap on its canned food for dogs. It meant that its six- and 12-pack cans became 100 per cent recyclable, using cardboard packaging made from sustainably grown trees. “This is yet another example of why we are all proud to be a part of a company willing and able to make big, bold decisions

and gestures that we hope will kickstart the category into doing something positive,” Rachel enthuses. As Rachel goes on to conclude, the outlook for the dog food category, particularly when it comes to wet food, is extremely positive, and thus Butcher’s stands poised to build upon the strong foundations it has laid in the last two years. “With the successful re-launch of our dog food category, and our imminent arrival onto television screens, we are reaffirming the company’s seriousness towards helping the category grow, giving more and more dogs access to better food,” she adds. “From here, it is about making the most of our investment in product and people to drive category growth, before turning our attention to some exciting developments we have planned for 2020, but that is a story for another day.” D

Big, bold decisions Ben Ford Director of Cat Business Unit, joined Butcher’s at around the same time as Rachel and has been busy reinvigorating the company’s cat category. The outcome has been the launch of the natural shredded fillets brand, Blink!, made here in Britain. 115

Flair for innovation Independent contract caterer and restaurant operator Graysons enjoyed a hugely successful year in 2018, and with new contracts being signed on a monthly basis, 2019 is shaping up to be just as, if not more, profitable



Tim O’Neill, Managing Director and Simona Oproiu, Business Development Director


or Simona Oproiu, Business Development Director of leading independent caterer Graysons, the word that best describes the company’s performance during 2018 is ‘tremendous’. “It really has been a great year for us, during which time was have been extremely busy,” she states. “We have grown not only in terms of turnover through the winning of new contracts, but also by means of expanding our own operations and support teams in order to support our sustainable expansion as a business.” Such was the success of the business in 2018 that, in December, it was revealed to be the fastest growing contract caterer in the UK, in terms of annual profit, in the Food Service Growth Report by EP Business in Hospitality and AlixPartners. The report, now in its sixth year, noted that the company benefitted from a strategic repositioning that delivered enhanced profitability across its various platforms. Founded in 2008 by Sir Francis Mackay, and led by Managing Director Tim O’Neill, Graysons’ ten-plus years in the catering business has been defined by its passion for delivering creatively-prepared meals that use only the freshest local ingredients 117

available, and for its unrivalled level of customer service. With its range of capabilities including the running of staff restaurants, cafés and corporate hospitality suites, operating high street locations, and managing unique venues, events and conferences, Graysons has become firmly entrenched as a trusted service provider to a long list of recognisable institutions. “Our continued pattern of growth has been down to several factors, not least of all being our uniquely independent approach, our ability to offer a bespoke solution for each individual client, and our passion for innovation,” Simona continues. “There has been a lot of consolidation in the marketplace in recent years, and this has helped to leave a gap where clients are wanting the services of an independent, bespoke catering partner. These are the clients that want more than a prescribed way of doing things, and with Graysons they can be assured that we will approach them with a desire to understand exactly what they are about, what they want from a catering perspective and how we can satisfy these demands.”

Shared values The aforementioned clients call upon Graysons to impart its flair for innovation when it comes to its catering services, and a core element of this is the company’s ability to rapidly respond to industry trends and changing tastes. One of the ways this is achieved is through a number of important partnerships with industry leading bodies, personalities and chefs. An example of this strategy in action came in 2018, when the company established an exclusive partnership with Chantelle Nicholson – chef-patron of Tredwells in

Impress Sandwiches We are a premium supplier of first-class food-to-go across an extensive range that includes deep fill sandwiches, rolls, hot eats, salads, hospitality platters and so much more. A family business since 1989, we offer a point of difference with handmade foods using fresh ingredients for retail, business and industry, events, travel sectors, and bespoke. Based in west London, we are BRC Accredited and have been BSA members for over ten years. We pride ourselves on great attention to detail - and delicious food. We are delighted to have been working successfully with Graysons Hospitality for four years. If you order from us, we won’t let you down.


Graysons Covent Garden and author of the book Planted – to support the development of its chef teams and inspire the development of plant-based menus. Built upon Graysons’ and Chantelle’s shared commitment towards seasonal, local and sustainable eating, health and wellbeing, this partnership will also lead to the creation of a fresh food-togo deli range exclusive to Graysons, and the development of a plant-based café concept. “Having been attracted to Chantelle’s fantastic energy and passion for her craft, we were thrilled that, when we approached her to work alongside us, she was extremely excited to partner with Graysons,” Simona explains. “She knew about, and shared, our ethos, values and culture, and was very keen to contribute to what we were trying to achieve in developing a full, sustainable, plant-based menu.” Equally as beneficial for Graysons is the fact that Chantelle has also been on hand to support the development and training of its chefs. “The opportunity to work with and learn from someone like Chantelle is quite the source of inspiration for our chefs,” Simona adds. “Such instances give our people the chance to learn new skills and approaches, and prove invaluable when it comes to making them better chefs themselves.” Graysons’ efforts continue to pay dividends in the form of new contracts and venue openings, with a raft of exciting new developments occurring in the last six months alone. In October 2018, for instance, it was revealed that the company had scooped a five-year, £4 million catering and hospitality contract at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew. This contract sees it managing all public facing cafés, on-site restaurants and staff dining facilities, as well as working with TNA to create an external event market for the venue.

company manage and deliver day visitor catering in Wakehurst’s Seed Café, Stables restaurant and Redwoods coffee shop, as well as facilitating private and corporate external events throughout the year in Wakehurst’s Mansion and the Millennium Seed Bank. Other significant contract wins in recent months have included the iconic Blue Fin building on Bankside, Southwark, for Oxford Properties. At the time of announcing this contract, an Oxford Properties representative commented: “It was an easy decision to select Graysons. Above all others, they have a strong passion and understanding for the independent

London food scene, and an approach to sustainability and the environment that perfectly matches the building’s and Oxford’s credentials. Graysons have worked alongside us to help visualise and deliver our plans for each area of the building and we look forward to watching this unfold.” Earlier in the year, the company has also announced a contract for delivering catering services at engineering, environmental and strategic consultancy Ricardo in Shoreham, West Sussex, and one to operate catering services at IOP Publishing in Temple Meads, Bristol, and more recently an agreement to service five Transport for London office buildings across London, stretching from West Kensington to Stratford. “As you can tell from our levels of activity, we are looking to continually grow as a company, and to do so sustainably,” Simona states. “We are also passionate about never standing still and constantly bringing innovative thinking and ways of working to our clients. While the contracts we win are usually of a long-term nature, we are always striving to develop the offer we provide. As such, we are convinced of our ability to grow across all the areas of our business and are confident about the wealth of opportunities that exist for us in market in 2019.” Graysons’ successful year in 2018 and bright outlook in 2019 means its long-term goal of sustainable growth whilst staying totally independent should be easily met. Its plan is to remain true to its values of locally sourced quality fresh produce and flexible bespoke menu and service offers to continue to attract and secure long-term partnerships with leading organisations in the UK. D

Innovative thinking In November 2018, Graysons secured the catering contract at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanical garden run by Royal Botanic Gardens. Worth in excess of £7.5 million in revenue over the initial five-year period, the contract will see the 119

The pick of the bunch Focusing on quality local produce, contemporary and relaxed environments, and enthusiastic employees, Hand Picked Hotels is taking its already amazing food and beverage offering to the next level of excellence

Graeme Nesbitt Director of Food & Beverage



t has been some eight years since Hand Picked Hotels (Hand Picked) last featured within the pages of FoodChain, and needless to say a lot has happened in the time since for this awardwinning group of 19 country house hotels and spa resorts located throughout the UK and the Channel Islands. Privately owned, the business prides itself on offering a quality four-star product, differentiated by bespoke service, with 15 of its hotels holding a minimum of two AA Rosettes and a group-wide wine list consisting of over 100 variations to suit all tastes. As its portfolio of properties has steadily increased over the years, new people have come into the business who are helping to shape its future. One individual brought into Hand Picked in early 2018 was Graeme Nesbitt, the group’s Director of Food & Beverage. Taking on a newly created role within the senior management team, Graeme not only provides strategic leadership – supported by

Hand Picked Hotels

some 25 years’ experience within the hospitality industry – but is also tasked with overseeing all food and beverage operations across the group. This entails the introduction of new menus, working with local suppliers, and driving its quality, service and training programmes. “For Hand Picked, food and beverage has always been a huge point of focus and a very buoyant revenue stream, and the opportunity to join such a fantastic collection of hotels with a great existing offering was one that was too good to refuse,” Graeme begins. The food and beverage market, as Graeme is well aware, has undergone something of a sea change in recent years, typified in part by the explosive rise in gastro pubs and independent high street restaurants, which has resulted in renewed levels of competition in villages, towns and cities throughout the country. In the face of this came the realisation that Hand Picked had the 121

opportunity to analyse its own offerings to see what worked, where the opportunities rested and how it could remain on trend with its customers. This is where Graeme comes in. “My first task was to go around the various hotels to gain an understanding of their respective market mix,” he details. “What became immediately clear was that, with such a varied portfolio of properties with very different market segmentation, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach would not work. With the green light from the Board of Directors, I went into each hotel to really get under their skins to see what opportunities there were for improvement, and how we could better capture the public’s desire for a more relaxing dining experience in a comfortable, welcoming environment.”

Rewarding workshops This review led to a revisit of the group’s restaurant menu offerings. “We made the decision to move away from the more traditional à la carte offering, instead implementing price points for any guest dining with us so as to not restrict their choices and allow them to select what they want, where they want, when they want,” Graeme continues. “In developing our offering, we gather genuine guest feedback, whether it be from first time visitors or long-term loyal clients, utilise the latest technology to monitor the popularity of certain dishes, and emphasise to our chefs the need to focus on great core ingredients that are available on their doorsteps. If you look at the food and beverage industry in the UK, we have some phenomenal produce at our fingertips, which means we can be proud to shout about provenance, quality and local expertise. We also endeavour to ensure that our menus not only ooze with seasonality, but remain relevant when it comes to the latest trends.” As anyone active within the food and beverage sector will tell you, it is very much a people industry, and a key part of Graeme’s remit has been to support the development of Hand Picked’s employees. “Invest in your people and profit will follow, that is what we know to be true and why we place so much focus on training and bettering our staff,” he reveals. “One of the things that we


have done is introduce a number of food and beverage workshops, which have proven to be very rewarding. One recent example brought together all of the group’s sous-chefs – who are our next generation of head chefs – to discuss menu development, creativity, the challenges they face and what we expect of them as future leaders. In the coming months, we will also be hosting a bar workshop in May 2019, as well as two events in June 2019 that will see our head chefs and food and beverage managers share their thoughts and ideas about how we can work smarter, and put more measurable, tangible objectives in place to drive our offering forward. “At the same time, when it comes to our younger employees coming into and through the business, we are exploring different avenues and connecting with them through technology as we change the way we approach training. We have a great learning tool called Owl, and are experimenting with things like short burst videos, which means that we can engage with our staff through their smart phones or tablets. I, for one, believe that the days of having 1000page training manuals sitting on shelves gathering dust are numbered, and that has prompted Hand Picked to become more creative in the way we encourage the growth of our new generation of employees.”

Talent pipeline Graeme and the team’s efforts continue a strong track record when it comes to employee development. For instance, the business set up its Hand Picked Chefs’ Academy in 2011 – in partnership with HIT Training – as part of its strategy to address the skills gap within its kitchen brigades. The aim to this day remains to give chefs the skills they require, inspire them to achieve career longevity and to encourage the promotion of chef careers with the Hand Picked business. Running alongside the Chefs’ Academy is a new Leaders of the Future Academy, also curated with HIT Training. This provides those working at Hand Picked with the tools, expertise and training to progress in their career towards deputy level positions. Today,

Hand Picked Hotels there are 29 apprentices across the business’ portfolio enrolled on the Leaders of the Future Academy striving to complete their Level Three Supervisory Management Apprenticeship. Speaking with Graeme at the turn of April, he and the rest of the group were preparing for the onset of the busy summer period. While he currently finds himself leading a push to increase local awareness of the group’s hotel offerings, he still has an eye fixed on the future strategy for Hand Picked’s food and beverage functions. “On the restaurant side of the business we will continue to look at how we can remain contemporary, while still delivering the phenomenal service that make our locations so special,” he says. “Meanwhile, we will also be looking at ways that we can better push our more structured offerings such as hosting meetings, events, private dining and weddings. “Overlooking all of this will be our ongoing focus on investing in and training our people. In the face of increasing market competition, we want to go on making sure that each and every member of the Hand Picked team feels truly valued, and ultimately I believe this will help in making the group a market leader in attracting and retaining a talent pipeline that will continue to serve all of our fantastic properties for many years to come.” D 123

Hunger for growth Slowly but surely, Pizza GoGo is growing into a nationwide company, having recently opened four new stores in Birmingham in a move that is viewed as the first step towards further expansion in Northern England 124


uring the 32 years Pizza GoGo has spent in the foodservice industry, the pizza chain has made London and the Home Counties a true bastion of its operations, currently running nearly 100 branches in the area. Indeed, for a long period of its history, growing the business in the South of England was the major task before the company and today, Pizza GoGo is present in each of the large cities in the region. Owing to the success it has achieved in this part of

the country, the company’s appetite has inevitably been whetted and, albeit cautiously, it is now targeting expansion first in the Midlands and, then, further up north. “We were originally looking for a rapid growth in the North and extending our franchise model to cover that area, but we quickly realised that the market up there is completely different from the one in London, so we took our foot off the accelerator to give ourselves a bit of time to re-evaluate the situation,� Fouad Haghighat, Managing Director of Pizza

Pizza GoGo

GoGo, points out. “Nevertheless, last year, we really took off in Birmingham by opening four new stores and we are hoping to spread out into the surrounding areas and, thence, into the North of England.” Using the country’s second largest city as a springboard for future expansion appears to be a wise decision, given the space Birmingham offers for the opening of new sites. “Whilst we were not really well-known in the city, we now anticipate to see a kind of a snowball effect where the presence

of several stores around will attract new franchisees who will help us grow in those parts of the region where we have not set up branches yet,” Fouad reasons. “At this moment in time, franchisees are competing for territory, so we are in a fairly favourable position of being able to cherry-pick who we want to work with, based on their experience and strategy for moving forward. Our desire is to partner with people who are interested in running multiple sites in the future. In Birmingham, we found someone who is

keen to take over the whole territory and they are going to open new stores shortly, so this is a great example of the kind of progress we are looking for,” he explains. When Pizza GoGo was first established, the company boasted the USP of offering free delivery, which, in the late 1980s, allowed it to generate a lot of interest and get the better of its competitors. As Fouad acutely remarks, however, the times have changed, the costs of maintaining such a policy have increased dramatically, and, therefore, he does not expect free delivery to survive much longer. 125

Pizza GoGo “It seems to me that the introduction of massive companies like Uber and Deliveroo who have a lot of money to burn and are capable of making huge investments, will gradually lead to the demise of free delivery. We can no longer compete with these businesses, but the positive we are seeing, is that they are going to build an infrastructure, which we will also be able to benefit from. If the customers are willing to pay an extra £2.50 for delivery, that is fine for us,” Fouad discusses. With free delivery on the wane, Pizza GoGo has readjusted its strategy in a way that will serve the business’ objective of bringing more customers to their respective branch to pick up their order, instead of opting for delivery and thus paying more for the exact same product. Fouad comments: “We have somewhat gone back to our foundations, focusing on the look of our stores. We began to refurbish and freshen some of our locations up to make them an attractive place to visit, which is a much more meaningful path to take, rather than choosing to continue the battle on the delivery ground.” Moving onto food-related subjects, Fouad proudly notes that Pizza GoGo has recently added vegetarian and vegan options to its menu, having teamed up with Quorn to introduce a wide range of meat-free items. “Quorn is a meat substitute that changes the texture of a product, offering vegetarians a different bite to the traditional mushroom and onion pizzas they are used to consuming,” he states. “Interestingly, when we first launched this range, we had an excellent response and were highly praised by the vegetarian community for thinking about

them, but at one point, it just tailed off, so we decided to remove it altogether. Then, all of a sudden, the demand for Quorn grew again and we reintroduced it to our menu. “Clearly, veganism is the hot topic across the food industry at the moment, but what I have noticed from my research, is that because vegetarian and vegan customers have not been looked after by the foodservice industry for a long time, they seem to have developed a lifestyle that sees them rely predominantly on themselves. As a result, they tend to eat out less often than non-vegetarians, which probably is not going to change in the future. When they do go out, however, it is always good to have a vegetarian/vegan offer for

them, because they appreciate it,” Fouad observes. Illustrating his latter claim, he informs us that Pizza GoGo is presently working on developing its own vegan cheese. “If I am being honest, this product was due to be launched this year, but we delayed its release, because we do not feel we have got it absolutely perfect just yet. It is very difficult to achieve the right texture, colour, stretch, and pull, and we have been working with many manufacturers to get it right. Until we have perfected it, it is not going to appear in the market.” Together with developing new products, Pizza GoGo is poised to carry on with the refurbishment of its stores, as the company moves forward. Fouad wraps up by revealing one other area he will be directing his attention to in the coming years: “We need to start looking at the demographics of our franchisees, because a lot of them are people we have worked with for decades and who are now reaching a retirement age. Under such a circumstance, they are getting a bit reluctant to invest heavily and grow the business further, so we either have to help them or see if we can bring in younger franchisees who have the drive to start pushing their sites. “Ultimately, we will go with the market and see which way it takes us. The good thing about Pizza GoGo is that we are incredibly agile and we can implement changes within days, because the management team is small enough and can take decisions without wasting much time. This enables us to suddenly go for a new concept and, although it may appear challenging, it is also great fun to be able to do that and explore different opportunities.” D

Hargreaves Quality Foods Limited Producers of quality meat-based pizza toppings, we are delighted to have been a consistent supplier to Pizza GoGo for many years, and wish them all the best for the future and success with their continued development. We pride ourselves on being a business with regular customers who are always greeted with a friendly and personal service. Indeed, the company’s focus on its customers can be incorporated accordingly. • British retail consortium Higher level • Develop, produce and supply products that are safe for consumption, and which meet legislative regulatory requirements • Devote the necessary resources to quality assurance, including the maintenance of food safety through HACCP and hygiene standards as required We constantly monitor hygiene levels throughout the factories, therefore guaranteeing optimum product standards for all of our products at all times. This reputation for the supply of the highest quality products is underwritten by British Retail Consortium Higher level. We also invest in the company’s future at every level, including plant equipment and people, which also includes employing trainees in order to ensure that today’s standards are taken forward. Hargreaves Quality Foods Limited is a company that intends to be around for some considerable time to come - a philosophy that delights its ever-growing army of customers. 127

The beginning of a new era

T Bidfood Baltics has just opened its first wholly-owned depot, which has a capacity that promises aggressive growth for the Lithuanian supplier of frozen and chilled products


ransformative changes are happening at Bidfood Baltics. For the first time in its 25year history, the leading distributor of frozen and chilled foods in the Baltic region can call the facility it operates from ‘home’. Having outgrown its rented sites on multiple occasions in the past, the company has just completed the construction of its own super-sized depot in the city of Kaunas, in south-central Lithuania, hoping that it will serve as a platform for significant expansion in the coming years. The new facility was built with the financial support of Bidfood – the parent organisation of the Baltics’ branch, and has the capability of holding 6700 pallets, thus extending the company’s capacity more than twice. Ramunas Makutenas, CEO of Bidfood Baltics, discusses some of the depot’s key features: “We have areas that are kept at five different temperature ranges. We have a freezer at -24°, two chillers – one for meat and fish (0° - 2°) and one for dairies (2° - 6°), an ambient space (15° - 20°), and, finally, a new marshalling area (4° - 7°) where we prepare the goods to load onto the trucks. Crucially,

this enables us to manage the wide range of products our clients need.” Ramunas also expects the new depot to allow Bidfood Baltics to strengthen its presence in the chilled and ambient fields. “We have traditionally been very strong when it comes to frozen products, but as we see lots of good opportunities in chilled and ambient, we have been meeting different suppliers in recent months to see how we can develop our offering. Our idea is to make life for our clients easier by becoming a onestop shop, which provides them with everything they need from one place.” Although Bidfood Baltics did not extend its product range last year, the company still enjoyed annual growth of more than ten per cent, and Ramunas credits his staff for managing to keep the business on an upward trajectory, despite the inconveniences caused by the construction of the new depot. “The fact that we thrived under difficult circumstances is a testament to the maturity of the company and the intelligence of our people, which is always encouraging, going forward.” The CEO is also optimistic that moving to the new site will make the business

Bidfood Baltics a lot more efficient, especially in driving costs down, and thus enable Bidfood Baltics’ even more substantial growth in the future.

Auspicious conditions Ramunas goes on to comment on the company’s performance in each of the three Baltic countries: “In our home country of Lithuania, we are well-known for our retail fish and seafood brand called Nowaco, which we supply to the biggest retail chains in the entire region. Arguably, we are one of the leading players in the frozen fish and seafood category and 2018 was another year of growth for us, even if our sales figures did not quite reach the heights of the year before. “Moving onto Estonia, we are currently at a stage where we have to decide what approach we need to apply there. There is no doubt that we would like to grow in the country, but at this moment in time, we do not have our own infrastructure, relying, instead, on two local distributors to supply our clients,” Ramunas points out. “As far as Latvia is concerned, we are doing incredibly well there, with 90 per cent of our sales being to the country’s foodservice sector,” he continues. “It merits saying that the businesses in Latvia and Lithuania are very much integrated into each other. Twice a week, we deliver goods from Lithuania to Latvia and then, on the way back, we load our trucks with the chilled fish the Latvian business provides its Lithuanian counterpart with, to distribute across Lithuania. We are really pleased with how we fare in Latvia and we look forward to growing further.” 2019 marks 15 years since Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia joined the EU en bloc, which triggered processes that have become characteristic for the majority of the ten countries that became part of the Union in 2004. Ramunas explains: “Having been granted the right to move freely within the EU, a lot of people have emigrated to the developed countries of Western Europe in search of betterpaid jobs. On the one hand, this means that the market has been squeezed to a degree, but on the other, foodservice has benefitted, because the habits of people

who have stayed here, are changing. Their standard of living is rising and, as a result, they eat out more and they travel more. The latter means that they are now showing strong desire to have the food they have had in countries like France or Italy, here. This, in turn, has led to the opening of many new restaurants in our region. All in all, the foodservice sector is going from strength to strength.” As market conditions remain auspicious, Ramunas regards the rest of 2019 as crucial for Bidfood Baltics’ continued success. “The new depot is an excellent springboard for us to get to a higher level, but first of all, we need to learn how to best manage it and take full advantage of its operation, and this will be our main task in the months to come. What is more, we will start increasing our range in earnest, in order to cement our position of a valued partner across the region,” he concludes. D 129

Catering to its customers In the last 12-to-18 months, Pickstock Telford has realised its goal of establishing the company within the foodservice and catering sectors, and set the stage for further growth in the years to come 130


hen we at FoodChain last documented the activities of Pickstock Telford – one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high-quality beef both domestically and internationally – in the Spring of 2018, it was counting down the weeks until its expanded production facility was fully operational. A multi-million-pound investment to its existing infrastructure, this represented the company’s ambitions into acquiring the capability to process individuallyportioned cuts of beef, and thus

expand its supply into the foodservice sector. “In the time since we last spoke, we have taken huge strides in developing our capabilities in order to launch ourselves into the foodservice and catering sectors,” begins Dave Drew, Pickstock’s Sales & Marketing Director. “We have successfully equipped our expanded production facility with slicing, mincing and dicing technology so as to produce quality steaks, minces, dices and burgers, and have identified a list of key customers, who

Pickstock Telford we have aligned our integrated process against.” The integrated model that Dave speaks of is a fairly new one for the foodservice sector and as a consequence, the foodservice and catering industries have had to take a fresh look at the integrity of their supply chains. “What we at Pickstock are offering is a fully integrated system, designed for the food service operator. The controls that this provides us – and our ability to leverage our reputation as a well-established food company – have proven to be of great interest to the catering sector and means that we are now processing for a number of High Street restaurants and delivered wholesalers.” Dave joined Pickstock in October 2017, having previously spent more than 30 years in the beef industry. “For me, Pickstock represents an opportunity to capture a unique space

in offering total security of product consistency through control from start to finish of the process, and a great message of environmental and sustainable food supply.”

Expansion project Expansion of the facility is in excess of £3 million, which represents considerable investment – but perhaps more importantly Pickstock has been afforded the patience required to ensure that its offering is absolutely right. “Everyone associated

with Pickstock recognised that we could not rush into this project and appreciated the vital importance of having the right people, equipment and infrastructure in place, and a strong source of supply, to launch the business with our chosen partners,” Dave states. “Together, we’re realising our ambitions, and we are now starting to repay the investment that’s been made.” Away from the foodservice and catering side of the company, the last couple of years have also seen

Cutting Edge At Cutting Edge, everything we do, we do to give our customers the edge. We are tremendously proud to be a strategic partner of Pickstock for over ten years, supporting its growth with a wide range of innovative solutions and quality products. We have worked closely with Pickstock to understand its strategic objectives and in turn support its achievement of them. This has included auditing and supplying its phenomenal hygiene programme through to installation of our exclusive Pesutekno range; working on a program for longer lasting food processing blades among many others from butchery to finished products. Our mission is to offer our customers the best possible service and build strong, long-term relationships based on honest and impartial advice. We look forward to supporting Pickstock’s continued growth and success in the future with our reliable service and innovative solutions. 131

Pickstock Telford

Pickstock’s export business remain a key area of focus. While historically a big exporter of products to Europe and the globe, new markets are now


opening up more and more. “Exporting to countries all around the world is always going to be a part of our business,” agreed Dave.

Looking at the company as a whole, the plan for the second half of 2019, according to Dave, is to increase production of finished products at its newly expanded facility, and to simultaneously grow its foodservice operations. “We have in place an ambitious three-year business plan, which has seen us revisiting our brand image in recent times and enhancing our work with key operators in order to grow our premium offering,” Dave adds. “What we are continuing to do, as well, is to make sure that Pickstock remains a business that delivers on its promises and does a fantastic job for all of its customers. After all, it is through their success that we, ourselves, grow.” D

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