FoodChain Issue 127 July 2017

Page 1

FoodChain Issue 127


JULY 2017

The business of food and drink

The right ingredients

Following notable developments and impressive growth, Wellocks has been named one of the LSE’s Top 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

Industry News In your glass Monitoring allergens in the drinks and alcohol segment

l New catering partnership for Whipsnade Zoo and Levy Restaurants l


Renowned photographer produces iconic portrait of women in food Polar Krush prepares for full factory refit and recruitment drive

Predicting the future Budgeting for maintenance and ensuring efficiency for all processes

FoodChain ISSUE 127


JULY 2017


The right ingredients

Following notable developments and impressive growth, Wellocks has been named one of the LSE’s Top 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain

Editor’s Welcome

Industry News L New catering partnership for Whipsnade Zoo and Levy Restaurants

In your glass Monitoring allergens in the drinks and alcohol segment

L Renowned

photographer produces iconic portrait of women in food

L Polar

Krush prepares for full factory refit and recruitment drive

Predicting the future Budgeting for maintenance and ensuring efficiency for all processes

Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove

Inspirational stories

Editor Libbie Hammond Assistant Editor Will Daynes Art Editor Fleur Daniels Advertising Design Fiona Jolliffe Staff Writer Jo Cooper Profiles Manager Emma Crane Sales Mark Cawston Tim Eakins Darren Jolliffe Jonas Junca Dave King Theresa McDonald Rob Wagner Web Sales James Whiteley Operations Director Philip Monument Editorial Researchers Alasdair Gamble Natalie Griffiths Mark Kafourous Wendy Russell Office Manager Advertising Administrator Tracy Chynoweth


hile I of course consider all the companies who appear in the pages of FoodChain to be exciting, in this issue we are including a look at what could be described as the ‘official list’ – for Britain anyway.

London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2017 report is, in the words of Emma Titmus, LSEG’s Business Development Manager in the Primary Markers team, ‘a conscious effort from ourselves to profile some of the fantastic companies we have operating right across the country, shining a light on their wonderful achievements and success’. We’ve got three of the amazing companies from the LSE report in this issue and that includes our cover company Wellocks - its story of growth, development and expansion is very impressive. See page 20 for the details.

Follow us at:


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

© 2017 Schofield Publishing Ltd

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 4


14 6


Features Allergens What’s in your glass?




Modern ERP systems have the ability to scale, flex, drive success and increase market share without carrying the risk of an old platform

12 2

Product recalls Recall of duty


Nobody wants to the situation where a product recall is necessary, but if it does happen it pays to be ready with the right people briefed and ready to act

Factory maintenance can be predicted and doing so can save plant managers time and money while keeping production on course

IT Beyond ERP’s sell-by date


The benefits from warehouse process simplification are not clear cut, but include better visibility, centralised teams, improved purchasing information and strategic advantage

Allergen information relating to drinks and alcohol has gone relatively under the radar, but it’s vital the industry is aware of the relevant legislation

Maintenance Predicting the future

Logistics The simple approach


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

28 48 56 44 Profiles


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

London Stock Exchange Group


Max Burgers


This year’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report highlights

Customers visiting Max Burgers can see how technology has been

very successful companies in specific regions

embraced in order to create a more enjoyable experience



Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF)


A series of notable investments at Wellocks include new vans,

The FSDF is recognised for the important role it plays in assisting the

building developments and a new prep room

wider food supply chain and keeping its members fully informed

Sedalcol (UK)


Longshot Country Inns


Currently employing around 60 people at its site, Sedalcol (UK)

Longshot Country Inns has recently secured £1 million of funding

focuses on neutral grain alcohol as its main product

to expand its accommodation offer from 47 to 61 rooms

Ripe Now


Vega Salmon


Tropical fruit supplier and packer Ripe Now places a lot of importance

Exporting 90 per cent of its products, Vega Salmon has seen

on investing in the communities where its growers operate

positive customer response to its new Purity range

Finn Spring Oy


The Taste of Suffolk


Finn Spring wants to be the biggest water producer in the Nordics,

The quality of its products has contributed to The Taste of Suffolk

which means it is expanding capacity and increasing exports

being chosen to supply schools across Suffolk

The Co-op


The Southern Co-operative


Serving members with the products and services they need, when

Despite market uncertainty caused by Brexit, the Southern Co-

and where they need them, is what makes The Co-op difference

operative has achieved major success over the past nine months

Kendal Nutricare

British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) 68


Over the next 12 months Kendal Nutricare products will be more

BFFF brings the food industry together while also offering a fantastic

widely available in th UK as its on-the-shelf presence increases

opportunity for companies to expand business connections


What’s in your glass?

Mike Edmunds takes a look at allergens in the beverage stream


any establishments are looking to capitalise on the free-from trend and businesses also need to be primed with allergen information relating to not only their food offering but their drinks and alcohol too. Industry knowledge around food allergens continues to grow, which can only be a positive step towards helping businesses cater for those with allergies or intolerances. However, allergen information relating to drinks and alcohol has gone relatively under the radar. It is vital the sector is aware of gap in awareness since beverage legislation can differ to that of the wider food market.

Hidden allergens Two years ago, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation came into force, urging businesses to create accurate and up-to-date allergen information about their products. For the beverage industry, although regulations


Mike Edmunds

state that alcoholic drinks with more than 1.2 per cent volume of alcohol do not require an ingredients list1, establishments do need to declare the presence of any substances or products derived from the Annex II list. In the drinks sector, gluten and sulphites tend to be the most widely cited allergens due to their presence in beers and wines. However, according to guidelines, some wine fining agents derived from egg and milk can mean operators need to consider compliance regulations carefully2, since tracking these ‘hidden allergens’ in the supply chain can be a complex task.

Tapping the potential The ‘free-from’ phenomenon is fast becoming an established consumer trend3 and an increasing number of breweries and drinks operators are factoring allergen-free products into their offering4. However, in order to appeal to the market, the foodservice

Allergens industry has to find ways of navigating the arguably complex landscape of allergen compliance, especially within the supply chain. As well as appealing to the current market, businesses that comply with the latest legislation protect themselves against reputational damage as well as the various penalties and offences outlined under the enforcement measures. While undoubtedly an absolute ‘worst case scenario’, failure to comply with the requirements of the regulation’s provisions is a criminal offence and may result in a criminal prosecution being brought against the operator. What’s more, those found guilty of an allergens offence will be liable to an unlimited fine to be decided on a case by case basis5. According to research undertaken on behalf of Trade Interchange, 69 per cent of foodservice businesses feel exposed to allergen legislation and the associated risks6. To meet regulations, a raft of supplier information needs to be collected, organised, continuously updated and communicated across the business as well as to customers. This can be a daunting task for pubs, bars and foodservice businesses, which often have complex supply bases and busy schedules.

Using technology tactically There are several methods generally used for recording, updating and maintaining this supplier information, ranging from paper-based systems and manual spreadsheets to specialist software. Each varies in efficiency and effectiveness, for example, paper or spreadsheet-based methods can be

The Annex II list: 14 common allergens found in food and drink: l celery l gluten l crustaceans l eggs l fish l lupin l milk l molluscs l mustard l nuts l peanuts l sesame seeds l soya l sulphur dioxide/ sulphites

notoriously difficult and time consuming to manage – as well as being subject to human error. In response, the industry is increasingly turning to central data monitoring solutions, such as Supplier Information Management software (SIM), which is specifically designed to improve the way risks are managed. Online SIM systems enable suppliers to upload key information that operators require, such as allergen policies, and provide them with all of the necessary compliance data instantly. By using specialist technology, such as Trade Interchange’s ARCUS SIM software, automated email alerts and reminder prompts can be set up. This means suppliers can update information in line with the user’s requirements, and helps to ensure supply chains employ accurate database. Not only is it vital for information to be up-to-date, it’s also important any supplier database is easy to maintain, so it doesn’t become outdated or neglected. Recent research shows that 60 per cent of foodservice operators surveyed use manual systems to manage supplier information7. Investing in comprehensive digital systems allows businesses to store all supplier information online, and access it quickly and easily from one central place, making managing allergen information a lot simpler.

Time is money and efficiency pays In addition to maintaining databases, SIM systems can help pubs and bars decide which suppliers to work with. Collecting allergen policies before working with a supplier can give

businesses the confidence that they have done the correct due diligence, but can be incredibly time-consuming if done manually. Developments in supplier management software allows users to make better informed decisions on who to stock by having all this information available. Obtaining allergen policies from key suppliers can also be labour intensive. However, software solutions put the onus on the suppliers to upload the relevant information through completing tailored online questionnaires. Therefore, data relating to allergens in drinks can be gathered in one streamlined process. The landscape of allergen compliance can be challenging, yet innovations in technology allow foodservice professionals to have visibility of the entire supply chain in a cost and time effective manner. When it comes to allergens, a well maintained and easy to use supplier management system can not only help businesses appeal to the ‘free-from’ market, but can also help to ensure non-compliance fines are avoided and a brand’s reputation is protected. D 1, 2 Food.Gov, Food allergen labelling and information requirements, April 2015 3 Mintel, Free-from Foods – UK, January 2016 4 Independent, 10 best gluten-free beers, March 2017 5 Food.Gov, Food allergen labelling and information requirements, April 2015 6, 7 Foodservice Supplier Management Report, Autumn 2016

Mike Edmunds is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Trade Interchange. Trade Interchange was founded in the UK in 2000 with a principal focus on fully managed online eAuctions. Over the years it has added more modules and now its proprietary cloud-based ARCUS platform supports a range of Supplier Management activities in many prestigious blue chip clients around the world. 5

Predicting the future Gernut van Laak explains how plant managers can budget for maintenance and ensure optimum efficiency for all processes


n 1927, Thomas Parnell set up the pitch drop experiment, which examines the viscosity of a tarlike substance by the speed at which it flows from a funnel into a jar. The test has seen just eight drops fall in the eight decades since it began and, despite the experiment being displayed prominently in the University of Queensland’s physics department, no one has ever seen a drop fall. Just like this test, the need for factory maintenance often goes unnoticed.

Paper to glass In terms of research and development, food and beverage is one of the leading industries because of its use of new, innovative technology. However, when it comes to maintenance, many companies still find themselves keeping paper records. While regulation and compliance requirements historically drove these companies to work with paper, advancements in digital tools mean this is no longer the case.


Unfortunately, once paper-based systems are in place, they can be difficult to eradicate. Companies become stuck in their ways, which leads them to ignore the significant cost savings, efficiencies and competitive advantages electronic systems can provide. The most important driving force for a company’s success is its employees. Today’s maintenance engineers already have the computing knowledge to make the switch to digital. Providing them with a familiar interface that quickly connects employees across the organisation allows staff to work faster and smarter, increasing productivity. Electronic records also eliminate time-consuming and error-prone data entries that are necessary with paper-based systems. While staff are the most important factor of any company’s success, the biggest cost of manual maintenance comes from people. It costs companies time and money to perform tasks that could be automated. Human errors that occur during manual record-keeping can also

Maintenance or qualification needed to become a maintenance engineer, which has led to discrepancies in skills across the world. While education is important, plant managers should understand that each manufacturing facility is different and they therefore need to invest in onsite training for all new engineers and regular updates for the entire workforce.

Preventative maintenance

result in redundant actions, rework and audits. Electronic records also eliminate the costs associated with printing, reviewing and retrieving paper documents. Giving maintenance staff access to mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices on the factory floor allows them to input data faster and therefore gives them more time to spend completing maintenance tasks. Having a digital record of the machinery that regularly needs work also means that the engineer has easy access to the data when it is time for the next round of maintenance.

Once engineers are trained and maintenance records are easily accessible, plants can start to consider the impact of preventative maintenance on their operations. Unplanned outages always seem to occur at the worst possible moment, whether it be during high season or large batch production. These outages often lead to waste, as the product being made at the time of the outage often has to be disposed of. If it doesn’t lead to wasted product, outages will most certainly cause varying degrees of downtime, which not only causes lost production but can lead to orders being cancelled and contracts being lost if deliveries are not made on time. By taking into consideration potential problems on the production line, plant managers can reduce disruptions and help secure long-term competitiveness. All food and beverage manufacturers have periods where they are either not producing, or producing much less than they are during the high season. This is the ideal time to be carrying out maintenance on the production line. If a plant manager knows that their motor is likely to need repairing every year, they can carry out the work during quiet periods, minimising the amount of downtime and lost production.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a versatile measurement for production efficiency. It takes into consideration three factors - availability, performance and quality. Availability is reduced by equipment failure, setup and adjustment; performance is reduced by idling, minor stops and reduced speed; and quality is reduced by process defects and start-up losses. Research has shown that improving any of these factors will have a major impact on efficiency - carrying out preventative maintenance helps improve all three by reducing equipment failure, stoppages and defects. Just like plant maintenance, the pitch drop experiment has recently gone digital. Anyone can log into an online platform to keep watch of the apparatus and hopefully catch the next drop, which might not happen for another eight years. Unlike the pitch drop experiment, factory maintenance can be predicted and doing so could save plant managers time and money, while keeping production on course. D Gernut van Laak is group automation solutions leader of ABB’s Food and Beverage Program. ABB is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing more than a 125-year history of innovation, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalisation and driving the Energy and Fourth Industrial Revolutions.

Engineer training As digital processes and automation become more prevalent on the factory floor, the skills needed to be a maintenance engineer are expanding. Not only do engineers need to be able to use smart devices proficiently, they also need to be able to work alongside automation on a daily basis. There is no standard certification 7

Beyond ERP’s sell-by date Mike Edgett highlights why modern ERP is needed to support digitalisation in the food industry



n the age of digitalisation, ERP systems have come back into the spotlight. Older systems typically dictated how the business should be run, but many have been modified, added to, and altered some over the years to accommodate a growing number of agendas. A monolithic ‘set in stone’ system simply isn’t viable in an industry facing new legislation, changing traceability rules, rising consumer demand for faster fresher food, and new labelling requirements to name but a few. And as digitalisation takes hold, these heavily modified systems are weighing down heavily on food manufacturers. Having the agility to respond to market changes and seize new opportunities is paramount in a digitalised, modern economy, and systems which impede this are forcing manufacturers to go backwards in real terms.

Now, agility is the order of the day. Easy to deploy, easy to access foodindustry specific systems, which are designed to meet the precise needs of not only the food industry, but all the micro verticals which operate within it, are the modern food producer’s platform of choice. Clearly the needs of a baker are substantially different to those of a ready meal producer - and these systems recognise this, delivering the specific capabilities to deliver the right level of insight, access and analytics. Take fresh produce for example. Having experienced growth of 100 per cent in the last seven years Swedish Cider and Fruit product company Kiviks Musteri recently invested in Infor CloudSuite Food & Beverage to modernise the business, reinforce traceability capabilities and pursue future growth. The cider company needed to ensure it was delivering the


necessary agility to capitalise on future potential, and that it was sufficiently scalable to achieve similar levels of success in the years ahead. Through opting for a cloud-based ERP system with out-of-the-box specific functionality for its industry, it meant that it could reduce its IT footprint, while at the same time, ensure that the team hit the ground running, future-proofing its investment. Kiviks’ CFO, Mattias Wistrand, comments: “With more than 70 different varieties of apple grown in our orchards, and a product range which spans apple juices, cider, sauces, jams and marmalades as well as desert sauces, maximising yield and ensuring availability is a challenge. In many cases, we are in the hands of nature as apples must be picked at precisely the right time to ensure the best flavour, and the processing window is short.

However, the right IT platform can ensure rigour in our processes, helping to maximise yield and boost revenue opportunities. “As well as providing Kivik’s with a robust growth platform for the future, our application will help result in reduced administration and less revenue leakage. Its cloud-based out-of-the-box functionality and standardisation means we can focus all our energies on developing our business - not our ERP system.” Another example of a fresh products company embracing a new flavour of ERP is Italian cheese company Auricchio. On the back of significant business change, including several acquisitions in recent years, the manufacturer and distributor of ‘Made in Italy’ cheese brands moved to a new ERP platform to achieve the flexibility, scalability along with a modern, shared management platform from which it could pursue international expansion. The system means that the cheese manufacturer can see greater coordination across departments, tighter management of the nuances of each product with regard to costs, and constraints around certification and traceability. Enhanced information on each operation – from production, inventory, yields, weight retention and logistics handling – are also set to deliver improvements in waste reduction, enhance product rotation and boost customer service. “We operate in a volatile market, and frequently have to adapt our strategies to meet changing market conditions,” comments Giovanni Martini, CFO and Group Controller, Auricchio Group. “Legislative and regulatory change also impact our business operations significantly, particularly as we have so many different group companies we have to report on. Similarly, traceability and certification constraints are crucial in the fresh food industry, therefore having a system, which can help us cope with all of these complexities, via an easy to use interface, was a prerequisite. Through adopting the Infor solution we can have a single management view of our entire operations which not only

can help us to meet regulatory needs, but affords us the flexibility and agility to respond to market opportunities quickly to maximise our profitability.” Of course, one of the key advantages of the new generation of ERP systems is that they transcend departments, integrating the business completely by facilitating the realtime sharing of information between production, finance, warehouse, sales and inventory. It’s only with this level of visibility across the organisation, that food companies can optimise processes and costs, seeking out valuable efficiency savings without sacrificing quality. The agility afforded by this real-time availability of business-wide information is vital to embrace digitalisation and pursue growth. Not only does it enable food businesses to respond to (or even predict) changing market dynamics in a timely and efficient manner, but it gives the business the agility necessary to outperform its rivals, paving the way for the introduction of new products at a faster rate than ever before.

Faster, fresher and more flexible The increasing level of complexity combined with squeezed margins and rapidly changing consumer demand in the food industry mean that one-sizefits-all systems really are a thing of the past. The previous generation of ERP systems typically had a lifespan of seven to ten years. Modern systems are no longer confined to such restrictions. They have the ability to scale, flex, drive success and increase market share without carrying the unnecessary risk which comes with being shackled by an old technology platform. D Mike Edgett is process manufacturing industry & solution strategy director, Info. Infor builds business software for specific industries in the cloud. With 15,000 employees and over 90,000 customers in more than 170 countries, Infor software is designed for progress. 9


Marvellous meat When it comes to sourcing high quality meat, a great place to start is to look for Q Guild Membership. Add in five generations of knowledge behind the counter of a famous shop in Holland Park, west London and you get Lidgate’s family butchers. Very proud if of its history and the care it takes to source the best products, Lidgate’s has established a network of exceptional family farmers for its suppliers, including a Shetland Islands farmer who rears heather-fed lamb, and a businessmanturned-farmer who has travelled around the United States in his quest to discover how to produce the best beef in Britain. It even sources beef cattle from HRH The Prince of Wales’ Highgrove Estate. The butchers also keeps a close eye on the market and develops products to embrace new trends, with recent releases including a Wagyu burger, using Wagyu beef from Earl Stonham Farm, England’s only producer of purebred Wagyu. The cattle selected to provide this remarkable beef spend most of their lives feeding on lush Suffolk pasture and locally grown maize. This brings a flavour to the meat, similar to that of the Kobe beef of Japan.

Its burgers simply contain Wagyu mince and a little salt and pepper.

The team was lucky enough to try not only the Wagyu burger, but also Lidgate’s beef Bourguignon pie and HRH The Prince of Wales rib eye and sirloin steak. “I am not surprised the pie was awarded 2* at the Great Taste Awards 2016, as it was truly amazing,” said our taster. “The sauce was super dark and rich and you could taste that the beef was high quality. There was plenty of filling and it felt very much homemade. I added some mash and veggies, and it was a delicious meal.” The steaks were also praised for quality, succulence and flavour. “I cooked these both under the grill and on the BBQ and had excellent results from both,” said our tester. “I am extremely fussy about steak and often struggle to find the standard I am looking for – these hit the mark on every level. I was thrilled to see you can order from them online and I will be taking a look next time I am planning a steak night!”

Hampshire breeds, fed a diet of barley, wheat and maize.

of that white watery stuff here thank you very much! It was hard to pick a favourite but if pushed I would say the treacle/stout just edged ahead, as the sandwich was tangy, with a lovely genuine ‘bacony’ flavour that was really satisfying.”

Bacon heaven Q Guild Butcher Hepburns has been making bacon since 1932, and the recipe and method that was used then is the same one used today. Hepburns’ bacon is cured, smoked and sliced inhouse, guaranteeing a superb taste. The company’s new maple cured bacon/treacle and stout Wiltshire cured bacon is steeped in a curing brine after injecting allowing the flavours of the cures to be absorbed by the flesh. Its then air dried, smoked and matured for 20 days before slicing. Bacon reacts in the same way beef does to maturing process. It allows a depth of flavour to be established and a softer finish on the palate to the mass-produced lines. Hepburns only uses 100 per cent pork from Essex and Suffolk, a combination of Landrace crossed with Duroc and


If there’s one thing that the Taste Test team love – it’s bacon. So there was no problem finding volunteers to try the Hepburns maple cured and treacle and stout cured options – however, the Ed decided it needed a personal touch! “I know I am pretty lucky when part of my job is to eat bacon sandwiches,” she said. “And what amazing bacon this was as well. Both variants were delicious – with hints of their individual cure without being overpowering, and just a touch of sweetness. The bacon also cooked really well - none

IndustryNews Exciting new partnership Levy Restaurants UK, the UK’s leading sports, leisure and hospitality company, has secured a new catering partnership with ZSL Zoological Society of London Whipsnade Zoo. Home to more than 3000 animals and spread across 600 acres, it is the UK’s largest zoo and home to lions, tigers, elephants, hippos, giraffes and many more species from around the world. The partnership will see the wildlife attraction’s catering offer redefined, to give

Increased output an even greater choice for visitors and to maximise the food and drink options during peak visitor times; from elevenses to lunches, and healthy snacks to afternoon cakes. The Zoo’s five cafes will also undergo investment and redesign. At the heart of the redevelopment plans is the introduction of River Cottage, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s acclaimed restaurant concept. This will draw on provenance, sustainability and seasonal British flavours and offer a casual dining experience in line with today’s eating trends. Reflecting seasonal demand, a new take-away picnic offering will be introduced to allow visitors to enjoy al fresco dining during the summer months. All concepts will be inspired by high street and food market trends and will feature a broad range of vegetarian and healthy menus.

The women shaping the future of British produce Ten prominent business leaders in food and agriculture have come together for an iconic portrait by renowned photographer Jenny Lewis. The all-female shot was commissioned by the East of England Co-op to mark the tenth anniversary of its awardwinning Sourced Locally initiative, which brings local produce to shoppers. The portrait celebrates ten inspiring women who are helping to lead the future of food and drink production Minnie Moll, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op, commented: “Local food is an integral part of a sustainable future and our producers are at the forefront of this. We are proud to have commissioned this portrait, which marks ten fantastic years of our Sourced Locally initiative and some of the incredible women leading the future of British produce. “Jenny Lewis has won awards for her portraits, and notably her work with women, and rightly so. She creates striking images that celebrate everything that makes us who we are, and in this portrait, she has captured ten strong and successful women, making waves in their field.” Each of the ten entrepreneurs are heavily

involved in their respective food businesses, from managing farms to leading their own companies and creating new products. Some are part of a family collective, others have set out alone, but each has played a critical role in the success of their business. The group are spread across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and between them have racked up an impressive collection of awards, accolades and fans. All have their produce stocked in East of England Co-op food stores as part of the Co-op’s Sourced Locally initiative. The image was taken at Lane Farm in Suffolk, and showcases the ten women in a traditional barn amid the iconic Suffolk landscape. As a specialist in bringing personalities to the forefront, Jenny’s portrait celebrates authenticity and camaraderie, showcasing a group of inspirational women with a passion for great food and business acumen.

Iced-drinks company, Polar Krush is looking forward to another exciting year as it prepares for a full factory refit, recruitment drive and a variety of new product launches, including a sugar free option.

The Polar Krush factory refit will enable the team to increase their output by 500 per cent. Polar Krush founder, Paul Goldfinch said: “This is a really exciting time for the team at Polar Krush. We will be creating more jobs, investing in the wealth of local talent and expertise as well as developing our national and international brand, which already has a loyal cult following.” Paul continued: “We have always prided ourselves on creating a range that is made with natural flavours and natural colours, offering customers a refreshing experience with none of the nasties. Our products have always added a burst of colour to family outings and this year we are pleased even more people can enjoy our tasty range of flavours.” From left to right: Emily French, Sue Whitehead, Rebecca Miles, Louise Jones, Sarah Savage, Fiona Brice, Deborah Coe, Laura Strathern, Stephany Hardingham and Hannah Marriage 11

The simple

approach W

Warehouse simplification to support business growth and efficiency goals Mark Wilkinson

hy is it that in spite of implementing warehouse management software, some food manufacturing companies continue to experience less than optimal operational performance and data visibility? Mark Wilkinson explains some of the common root causes and the importance of business process simplification if food producers are to get the most from potential economies of scale and initiatives to reduce wastage.

Incompatibility and inconsistency of legacy systems From experience, one of the most common reasons why warehouse process simplification becomes an issue is due to having inconsistent or incompatible technology systems. Consider the all too common scenario whereby a food manufacturing company


has grown by acquisition of niche operators and ended up running a variety of WMS systems on each of its production sites. Some could be running different versions of the same solution whereas others may have a completely different product installed. These systems might be fit for purpose and adequate for each division’s needs, but as a group, the end outcome is the same. Inconsistent data capture means sites cannot easily share information and this lack of visibility means they cannot easily benefit from any economies of scale to be had, for instance group wide purchasing, centralised sales and shared inventory management. Complex reporting tools are also most likely required for management to view information across the group. Frequently, even if sites do run identical systems or software, it will have been configured differently to suit their particular business processes. A key outcome of a warehouse process

Logistics simplification strategy will be to identify the best approach for the business as a whole and the creation of a blueprint for each site to adopt. Once this is in place, the whole organisation can benefit from greater consistency, control and data visibility, plus the ability to share information. For example, consider a scenario in a food manufacturing company needing to implement rules and restrictions for allergen control. In some cases, the business may rely on the intelligence of the WMS system to control this, e.g. identifying products on receipt, whereas other sites might rely on the professional knowledge of the workers, which leaves them vulnerable to mistakes being made. Alternatively, they may operate different mechanisms for feeding production lines. One system might generate demand from the production schedule, whereas others will use the same calculations but instead of this being driven through the WMS, it will be paper based because the operation tends to prefer a more manual approach.

How to approach process simplification to achieve maximum buy-in There are always many ways to achieve an end goal of warehouse process optimisation and they are not necessarily wrong or better, which needs to be borne in mind at all times. The role of a specialist supply chain consultant is to understand why the different processes would have arisen in the first place and to look for parallels across the group’s sites in order to understand the pros and cons of each variant in use. Once this is understood, the best way of working can be identified and a blueprint adopted. Communicating the ‘why’ is always critical to the success or failure of any simplification programme and will also most likely require a ‘buy in’ exercise. This is best conducted across all levels within the organisation and especially involving operatives at a grassroots level. In situations where individual sites have previously had the autonomy to specify their own software and processes, management will need convincing of the merits of a new approach and be

involved from the outset, with super users appointed to support the final roll out and training.

Importance of identifying ‘path clearers’ The transition from one system or process to another requires careful management, to ensure that any business disruption is minimised. At the outset, every business risk needs to be understood, with a mitigating option identified as a first step. Indigo’s approach is to then identify a path clearer at each stage, or potentially multiple path clearers, to smooth the transition process and reduce the impact. For instance, before implementing a new WMS and automated working, warehouse processes will need to be re-thought and introduced. Once operatives are working according to the new processes confidently, the final transition to automation supported by software will be less significant. In essence the new WMS becomes the catalyst for change and business improvement to occur. Alternatively, in the case of a business migrating from paper to a paperless working environment, basic changes to the type of data to be captured, which reflects the layout of the new electronic documentation, will go a long way towards gaining acceptance of a new process. Once the final switch to electronic working is made, the main impact of the transition has been reduced. A supply chain consultant’s role is to swiftly evaluate the merits of the ‘as is’ and ‘to be’ processes plus identify as many path clearers as possible in order to reach the ‘to be’ process as closely as possible beforehand.

Scalability and other strategic benefits of simplification The benefits to be gained from warehouse process simplification are not clear cut, as it depends on the starting point for each manufacturer. For warehouse management, having group wide visibility of stock and inventory, which in turn feeds into purchasing, is a significant benefit.

One OEM food manufacturer that has introduced a single WMS across all its UK sites will see key supply chain improvement objectives being met as a result, including the reduction of wastage through better stock control, shelf life management and overall improved stock accuracy across the business. Simplification can also benefit sales, by enabling stocks manufactured across multiple sites to be sold by a centralised commercial team. If a stock item is only available from one location and people in the commercial team cannot see what’s available across a group, they cannot sell it. Purchasing is another area where benefits can be seen, by supporting centralised purchasing and also, by standardising master data so that product codes and customer naming conventions are consistent for reporting purposes. This offers commercial and financial benefits and also allows sales and marketing to have access to improved information. Perhaps the biggest benefit is also the most strategic. Given that the UK’s food manufacturing sector is so dynamic, companies are being acquired by manufacturers and then divested continuously, as strategies and priorities change. Having a single way of working means that businesses can be set up to scale more quickly and readily assimilate new acquisitions into a standard way of working. It means economies of scale can be achieved in the warehouse more quickly as new companies can be integrated more quickly into an organisation, which in turn reduces costs and improves profitability. D Mark Wilkinson specialises in advising food manufacturing companies on how to implement warehouse management improvements when they introduce a warehouse management software (WMS) system. He has worked with leading food manufacturers across the UK, Europe and Asia to successfully implement the Indigo WMS solution. 13

Recall of duty The top five considerations for managing a recall. By Farzad Henareh



ortunately recalls of food products do not hit the headlines with as much frequency as some other goods. The sector is highly regulated, and manufacturers are stringent about ensuring safety at every stage in the process when bringing food products to market. However, even in the most controlled circumstances problems can and do arise, which makes it vital to understand the shifts in the regulatory landscape and the importance of a well-managed recall. To put things into context, the number of food recalls in Europe fluctuates from quarter to quarter. Between 2015 and 2016, there was actually an overall decrease of 1.4 per cent, but before manufacturers rest on their laurels, recalls rose again in the last quarter of 2016 by 12 per cent according

Farzad Henareh

to the Stericycle Recall Index (www. In terms of the top food categories for recalls, last year there were 498 retrievals involving produce and 443 involving nuts, nut products and seeds. The third top category is fish and fish products. Although the order shifted from quarter to quarter, the top three food subcategories remained the same throughout 2016. In Q4, fruits and vegetables; nuts, nut products and seeds; and fish and fish products made up 50.2 per cent of recalls and notifications. Given the serious impact that a recall can have, not just on a single product, but on the brand and sometimes the entire company, it pays to be fully prepared, either through an established internal programme or through access to a specialist third-party service. This can mitigate against uncertainty or panic

Product recalls and will also help to ensure the entire organisation is ready. Following are the top five considerations that will help with protecting against, and dealing with a recall, should it happen.

1) Understanding regulations In the UK regulations are strictly applied by the Food Standards Agency and similar agencies and departments operate across EU countries. Their responsibility is to oversee the production, processing, distribution, retail, packaging and labelling of food stuffs. Outside Europe, regulations, codes of practice and guidance differ, which can result in a variation of standards being applied and problems arising in the supply chain. Ignorance is no defence when it comes to regulations, so food manufacturers need to follow the food safety guidance that applies to any country from which they are purchasing foodstuffs. Because the regulatory environment is strict in Europe, the vast majority of foods that would be subject to recall, such as those affected by bacterial contamination or incorrect package labelling are identified and removed from the supply chain long before they reach consumers. No manufacturer wants to put the health of their customers at risk, nor do they want to expose themselves to reputational damage, legal action or negative attention from regulators. But even against that backdrop, problems can slip through and manufacturers have to be constantly vigilant.

2) Maintaining channel control The management of any recall will depend entirely on the control that the food manufacturer has over their channels to market. If, for example, they manufacture food and sell it through their own retail outlets, the recall process is straightforward to implement and can be managed through internal resources. However, for manufacturers using a distributor or wholesaler, the best approach is to devise a product retrieval plan to support every phase in the supply chain.

The most important objective is to retrieve all affected products from retail outlets and from the warehouse. There is also the challenge of ensuring that non-affected products from the same brand or manufacturer are left in situ, so open communication and close collaboration with retailers is essential. Another alternative is to use a field team to visit distributors and retailers in person and check that action is only being take with the affected product.

3) Establishing a chain of command The highest quality standards must be maintained and every stage of the process documented, from transporting and storing products with a secure chain of command, to handling subsequent product testing or product recalls in a regulatory compliant manner.

4) Managing communication with customers Of course, the situation becomes much more complex when products reach the consumer. In today’s world of online communication, one customer’s complaint can go viral in a matter of hours, so manufacturers have to think ahead, and be clear with their messaging – please don’t eat or use the product, return it to the store, or throw it away. Manufacturers of tinned or packaged goods will find a recall easier in terms of locating and retrieving products, but with fresh produce, which is rapidly consumed and more difficult to track and remove from the market, manufacturers may find themselves compelled to advertise nationally. This can have a limited response, so, paradoxically, it might be necessary to use the power of the brand and get the message out online or through social media – but in a controlled fashion.

5) Being prepared may mean looking for external help The vast majority of manufacturers will ensure that high quality controls are in place to guard against contamination or

problems in their processes. However, what can be forgotten in the business of producing and selling foodstuffs is that sometimes retrieval will become necessary. Prevention will always be the best form of defence against a recall, but without a procedure in place to manage an unexpected event internally they will be wasting precious time and putting themselves at unnecessary risk. Specialist companies are available to assist and will be able to help with advance preparations as well as supporting any recall event. The ideal approach is for boardlevel buy-in to ensure a recall programme is ready. There also needs to be managerial support and a clearly understood chain of responsibility. Help can be provided through crisis management plans or even financially from insurance policies to cover the risk. Preparing ahead is the key and anyone who might be involved in a recall process will need to be briefed and understand that they have a duty to protect their company and its reputation, but more importantly the supply chain, retail partners and ultimately their customers. No one wants to be in the situation where a product recall is necessary, but if it does happen, it pays to be ready. D

Farzad Henareh is Vice President Business Development EMEAA at Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS, an international company specialising in product recalls, retrievals, returns, mystery shopping and audits. The company is the industry leader in managing food and beverage recalls, as well product recalls in consumer, pharmaceutical, medical device, and automotive industries. 15


A simple option With the heatwave we’ve been having in the UK, it may not be the time to think of warm, comforting food when we get home! However, soup is a good standby dish for any weather, and an easy way of making an ordinary soup more interesting is to throw in a handful or two of Crazy Jack Organic Soup Mix 30 mins before the dish is cooked. Crazy Jack Organic Soup Mix is a great

combination of red and green lentils, yellow and green split peas, pearl barley and barley flakes, all grown naturally and organically and ready to use.

“This product represents something I am often trying to do –add more nutrients/veg or pulses to a meal but with very little effort! It’s not easy to achieve normally but in

this instance, it was literally a one-shot job with no soaking – throw it into the dish and cook for 30 mins. I loved the fact it was organic but the simplicity was also a huge bonus. And of course, the mix added taste and a more interesting texture. Another excellent healthy product from Crazy Jack.”

Super crunch When you are looking for a healthy breakfast option that’s not only delicious but completely satisfying, then Lizi’s Granola is an excellent place to start. The products are full of toasted cereal oats, mixed nuts and seeds that give both crunch and nutritional value. Created by the GoodCarb Food Company, which prides itself on measuring the Glycemic Load (GL) load of its products, Lizi’s Granola has never had to lower its sugar content, and consumers can be confident not only on the nutritional benefits but also the effect on the body. The range now includes ten different variants, including Low Sugar and High Protein, as well as more indulgent

options such as Belgian Chocolate, Treacle & Pecan and Pink Apple & Cinnamon.

“I do love granola and I’ve tried a lot of different ones – Lizi’s definitely stands out on flavour and texture. It was super crunchy (I actually let mine soak a bit before eating) and the Treacle & Pecan flavour worked extremely well with the toasted cereals and nuts. The clusters were also a generous size and I also loved the packaging – it was eye-catching and I would say it would stand out on a shelf for anyone purchasing in-store. The Pink Apple and Cinnamon had that extra fruity aspect which was enjoyable and the Belgian Chocolate flavour was such a treat it didn’t feel like breakfast – I could have this for pudding!”

Perfect picnic pouch Kingsland Drinks Ltd has launched a brand-new fruit fusion rosé in a handy pouch format. The new LIVE Strawberry and Lime fusion pouch holds 1.5 litres, the equivalent to two standard wine bottles, and importantly, stays fresh for up to four weeks once opened. Light and easy to dispense, the wine is a drinkable nine per cent abv and perfect for enjoying chilled on its own, over ice or as part of a cocktail with sparkling wine and soda water. It makes the perfect accompaniment to summer salads, picnics and BBQ food. liveforwines


“This was such a great addition to my fridge – to be able to have a chilled glass of fruity rosé whenever I wanted without having to open a bottle was so convenient, and the pouch and tap format worked brilliantly I would love these at a party or BBQ, as not only are they unusual and create a bit of discussion, they are so simple to dispense from and reduce glass packaging too. The lime and strawberry flavours came across well, and I also tried it over ice and with lemonade, which created a really interesting and refreshing tall drink. The pouch lasted a

surprisingly long time considering all my friends loved popping round for a quick tipple too, so it represented good value for money.”


Mint condition A chocolatier since 1881, Elizabeth Shaw is passionate about creating original and irresistible treats to be enjoyed, and its products have long been traditional gifts for Mother’s Day and Easter. Its renowned original Chocolate Crisp variety is made with a combination of chocolate with ‘melt in the mouth’ honeycomb pieces, and comes in dark chocolate mint, milk chocolate mint, and new milk chocolate orange and milk chocolate salted caramel flavours. Elizabeth Shaw also offers Flutes (a smooth chocolate baton filled with a selection of tasty flavours - mint, amaretto, orange and cappuccino) and a Mint Collection which is a sophisticated selection of delicious dark and milk chocolates infused with specially selected mint oil. The arrangement includes the original mint crisp and tantalising flutes, presented in a stylish gift box.

“I absolutely love Elizabeth Shaw – I think it’s not only the fact that they are so delicious but that they come with so much nostalgia and happy memories. What’s Christmas without a mint crisp? So the Mint Collection was immediately something that I adored – not just the wonderful Crisps, but the flutes as well and in dark and milk chocolate. They are just irresistible little bites of minty chocolate heaven.”

Traditional tea Stokes Tea & Coffee has recently celebrated its 115th birthday, and is raising a cuppa of its artisan teas and coffees in honour of this special date. Over the years, Stokes Tea & Coffee has developed its product range to offer a whole host of bespoke hot beverages that take customers on a round-the-world tea and coffee experience. As well as specially sourced coffees, more than 30 specialist loose-leaf teas are on offer, including several award-winning flavours which have been carefully created by Stokes over the years. Managing director of Stokes (and great grandson of founder Robert William Stokes) Nick Peel said: “One of the most popular teas we have is called Flo’s Mix, which was invented by Stokes’ waitress Florence Wright back in the 1970’s and proves to be hugely popular to this day. The Grandad Peelie’s Special Mix is another exclusive product on offer, created by the Stokes family and has since kept its place on the menu.”

As soon as the editor asked the team for feedback on the Stoke’s products, the air was ringing with praise for the Gold Medal Tea – in fact, this was the tea of choice at every tea break and lunch time for as long as the pack lasted! “This tea was so good – rich, with full flavour, and no bitterness. I guess it must be the fact that it is especially blended for hard water areas that it worked so well in our office, and made such an enjoyable cuppa. “I admit that before trying it I wouldn’t have given hard or soft water much attention, but now I am a full convert to appreciating its importance and I also keep my eye out for Stokes Gold Medal tea whenever I am out and about as well. I really was impressed by this.”

Gluten-free goodness ‘Superfoods’ is the new buzzword and leading ‘free from’ brand, Orgran has introduced some innovative new lines with added nutritional benefits. First up are two new pasta recipes, Super Trio, which feature a combination of alternative grains: kale, quinoa and brown rice in one and millet, quinoa and buckwheat in the other. They are available as either Penne or Spirals and present as a premium boxed product. Breakfast also gets a makeover, with the introduction of Quinoa Porridge. Made with quinoa and a blend of wholegrains, the range consists of one ‘original’ porridge in a 230g box, ideal for eating at home and two flavoured porridges (apple/cinnamon and berry) packed in sachets. The third new offering is Crispi Crumbs, a high performing gluten free crumb made from rice, corn and chickpea flour. It has the appearance, texture and crunch of a regular wheat based breadcrumb and is excellent as coating for a mixture of meats and vegetables.

“I loved the pasta and porridge but the Crispi Crumbs were the stand out product for me,” said our tester, “because I’ve never really thought about missing out on breadcrumbs before but trying these out gave me several new ideas for dishes that I hadn’t considered – my chicken goujons were a real winner and easy to make. I also topped a creamy chicken dish with these and am planning my own fish cakes. They sound a simple product but I’ve been inspired!” 17


success W

1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2017 is London Stock Exchange Group’s latest annual report to shine a spotlight on the very best of British business 18

hen London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) launched the inaugural edition of its 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report in 2013, its stated aim was to bring to the nation’s attention a fact that LSEG already knew to be true, that the dynamic small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that make-up said list are the lifeblood of the UK economy. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) would subsequently go on to confirm how just 3000 scale-up, medium sized businesses contributed £59 billion to the UK economy over a three-year period. Meanwhile, in 2016 alone, the UK created a record number of 650,000 start-up firms. “The 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain 2017 report is the latest in a series of annual reports which identifies

some of the most exciting, fastestgrowing businesses active in the UK today,” explains Emma Titmus, LSEG’s Business Development Manager in the Primary Markers team. “The report forms a conscious effort from ourselves to profile some of the fantastic companies we have operating right across the country, shining a light on their wonderful achievements and success.” In order to build the list of 1000 companies, LSEG employs the expertise of the financial technology company DueDil. They combine key financial performance indicators and sector benchmarks to populate the list. In order to qualify for the list, companies must be active and registered in the UK, and while Ltd, PLC and LLP entities are all considered, investment vehicles and funds, charities and non-profit

London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) “This year’s report makes for wonderful reading and a particular highlight is seeing the growth of companies in specific regions,” Emma continues. “In the West Midlands, for instance, the average annual growth rate of the companies showcased comes in at 60 per cent, while in Scotland average revenue growth stands at 91 per cent. At the same time, it is very positive to see a further increase in the number of companies from Wales spotlighted, which just enhances the strong sense of regional representation that the 2017 report possesses.” Following the publication of the 2017 edition of the report, LSEG hosted a series of celebratory events, taking in visits to London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh throughout the months of June and July. “The management teams of the companies featured in this year’s list, along with selected invited alumni from previous editions gathered at these events where we had the opportunity to raise a glass to their achievements,” Emma enthuses. “It is at these events where we also get a real insight into what these companies are doing and how we can possibly be

of service to them. It also gives them the opportunity to network and possibly look to do business with one another.” The release of LSEG’s annual 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report also provides an opportunity for reflection on the 12 months that have just passed, and for attention to turn to the year to come. “We have seen some interesting events in recent times in the UK, not least of all the vote to initiate Brexit,” Emma says. “I think it is more important now than ever that companies have strategies for growth in place, that they are investing in innovations and new technologies, and that they are choosing the right partners to help them scale-up in a sustainable way that adds long term value to the business. “Despite us, as a country, having a degree of uncertainty about the immediate economic future, there are clearly still a lot of excellent opportunities for companies in the UK. We have an incredible business culture, companies are continuing to thrive and we are not seeing the massive slow-down that some feared would occur, all of which is positive news.” D

organisations are excluded. Independent company, or consolidated group, revenues must total from £6 million to £250 million, based on the latest filings with Companies House, and companies are excluded if they have been incorporated in the previous three years. Each company’s average annual turnover growth rate is calculated over a three-year period, based on four sets of accounts, with calculations weighted to favour latest-year growth. Any company with over 20 per cent deterioration in net assets over a three-year period is excluded. Once the long list has been identified the eligible companies are separated into their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) groupings. Within each sector the companies are ranked by individual growth rates and those that have most outperformed their sector averages are identified. 19

The right ingredients for success

Firm in its belief that the best dishes begin with the perfect ingredients, Wellocks delivers the best possible fruit, vegetables, dairy, poultry, meat and sundries to its customers throughout the UK




ith an association with food beginning in 1946 when Eric Wellock operated a traditional greengrocer in Silsden, Yorkshire, Wellocks was established in 1961 by Eric’s son Richard as a supplier of fresh produce. Over the next four decades, the company grew steadily as a supplier of potatoes to local fish and chip shops and as a market stall owner selling fresh fruit and vegetables. Joining the firm officially in 1984, James Wellock, Richard’s son, was given the challenge of expanding the company’s remit through the supply of all types of fruit and vegetables to greengrocers and market stalls. “In the early days of the business we were very localised,” says James. “In the 1990s I was tasked with going to Manchester market to buy produce but you never knew where the product had come from and even if it would be there when you got to the market so I began questioning what exactly it was that I was buying and started my search for the perfect ingredient. “During this time, the greengrocers side of the business was dying out due to supermarkets taking over, but I also noticed one of our customers had opened up a vegetable preparation plant that I could see was opening a gap in the market to restaurants. We bought out this customer and gained two offers to go into restaurants by delivering direct vegetables and prepped vegetable lines; back then this was fairly simple as it meant peeling carrots and potatoes,” says James.

Impressive growth Today the company’s pre-prep service includes trimming, peeling, slicing, chopping, dicing, cubing, grating and shredding produce, which is completed by a team of highly skilled individuals who take ingredients of optimal quality and give them the same level of care and precision that a chef would. To further ensure reputability and quality, the company regularly hires retired chefs with the goal of delivering perfect consistency to every customer. However, before pre-prep begins, the company’s development kitchen rigorously tests

each newly sourced ingredient to ensure that each customer gets the exact results they need. This new way of working meant the company was dealing with local chefs to not only establish routes but also deliver a great service, great product and the right price. Chefs were soon getting in touch to request Wellocks’ high-quality services and establish positive working

relationships. “This led to us expanding more and developing roots across the UK as we continued to grow. In 2001 when my Dad retired there were 15 of us; there are now 460 of us, so there has been impressive growth for Wellocks over the last 16 years,” comments James. As it continued to grow the company remained focused on providing the 21



perfect ingredients, from the most exotic elements of a dish to everyday basics, searching the globe to find producers and farms that take pride in what they produce. Indeed, the company is proud that all suppliers have been specially selected, and Wellocks works with them directly to help them produce the best possible ingredients for its customers.

Les vergers Boiron Les vergers Boiron have been known for more

than 40 years for supplying frozen vegetable and fruit purees to professionals. We select the best raw materials from the best regions all over the world. We pick the fruit or vegetable when it’s perfect and we only

accept the best. Our teams of experts use their

know-how in transforming, blending and quality control to guarantee the taste of fresh fruit or vegetables in all their subtleties, flavours, colours and textures. Our mission is to contribute towards making professionals successful, with a range that always meets their needs when it comes to pastries, drinks and savouries.

We have reinvested into the business to facilitate the expansion so we have the playing field that is second-tonone, which has really allowed us to deliver

Wellocks Additionally, for ingredients that are even more extraordinary the company is growing its special branch collection; comprised of unique products such as More? Sourdough Toasting Loaf and White Truffle Oil as well as Pac Pomodori Pelati, the special branch collection delivers maximum flavour every single time. Many products are Protected Designation of Origin registered, which ensures that the produce complies with relevant recipes and processes.

Company expansion With the quality and diversity of products continuing to grow, Wellocks made a strategic decision to move its headquarters from Trawden to Lancashire six years ago. Since then, the company has reached capacity of its warehouse and has invested in another 20,000 square feet facility to serve as its new fresh produce preparation centre; it also installed a second conveyor belt in line with the level of demand from 23


Wellocks customers throughout the UK and its strategic decision to establish logistical hubs in key areas of the country. “We have reinvested into the business to facilitate the expansion so we have the playing field that is second-to-none, which has really allowed us to deliver. In terms of expansion, this began when a chef asked us to deliver to Ascot from Nelson, Lancashire, then to Norfolk, Cambridge and London with seven or eight vans going to and from these places. We still take orders in Nelson, which is then sent to our hub in Aylesbury, 100 miles from all of the southern coasts, and send them on an Artic; they are then transhipped into

Zanetti SpA Founded in 1900 in the province of Bergamo as a small, local trader of specialty cheeses, Zanetti SpA has grown to become one of the leading producers, and the major exporter of Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses in the world. We are one of the best-known Italian dairy brands globally, offering the complete range of Italian cheeses. Honouring and respecting the rules and traditions which we have set out over five generations, we are also very committed to our territory. We strongly support and believe in our sustainability programme to ensure our tradition is maintained for generations to come.

smaller vehicles. From starting this hub five years ago with seven routes, we now have 30 routes going out of that hub,” highlights James.

Distribution hubs “We then decided to expand on this winning formula into Scotland around four years ago and have built up a team and a hub that is just outside of Glasgow on the motorway network. We supply the whole of Scotland, again with produce coming out of Nelson, and have around 15 routes so far with our ingredients going to Michelin Star restaurants and five star hotels. We did the same again in Devon and have a distribution hub in Tewkesbury; our vans are delivering to customers at 8.30 am every day, and when you consider that orders are placed up to midnight, built at our Nelson warehouses and delivered to Devon by that time, this is quite an achievement,” he adds. 25


Wellocks Inspiring the country In line with this level of activity throughout the UK, James recently made the strategic decision to invest £800,000 in 20 new Mercedes Sprinter vans to improve delivery services and add new routes. Branded with the company’s distinctive logo, these vans bring the company’s fleet size to 126, all of which are supplied by Mercedes Benz. Following these notable developments and immense growth over recent

Ansław Sp.zo.o.

years, Wellocks was named one of the UK’s top 1000 fastest-growing and dynamic companies by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) for 2017. “It was a big surprise to receive this award from an outside perspective and it is nice to know for myself and for my employees to know that we are inspiring the country,” says James. Thinking about the future, James concludes: “We have implemented a lot of changes in the last six months, investing in a new IT system and developing our base. We will also

invest in the building, which will cost a minimum of £600,000 and invest in the prep room, which will cost £500,000. The track record since 2001 has been minimum double digit but nearer 20 per cent year-on-year; at some stage this will slow down but for now it continues and this gives us confidence to keep investing.” D

Ansław Sp.zo.o. (Ansław Ltd.) is an experienced producer and exporter of mushrooms from Poland. The mushrooms it produces are of the highest quality, from cultivation to delivery to the customer. Such an approach saw it given the opportunity to work with Wellocks, whose priority is the highest quality of products. Thanks to the use of modern machine facilities, and innovative technologies for the cooling and storage of mushrooms Ansław guarantees the freshness of its products. Certified as GlobalGap, BRC and IFS compliant, the company continues to develop itself, investing in technology and modernising production halls. 27

A blossoming plant Part of the Frandino founded Group, Sedalcol (UK) is an agribusiness that processes wheat to manufacture a range of value-added products that includes wheatfeed, gluten, starch and alcohol for food and beverages.


Sedalcol (UK)


he history of the Frandino Group dates back to the late 1960s in Italy, when the Frandino family established a simple fruit distillery under the name Sedamyl. Since then, Sedamyl has become the leading Italian producer of wheat-based products for the food and paper industries as well as for fermentation. To further cement its position in the market, the company has expanded into strategic locations such as France and the UK and established important partnerships with international organisations within the sector. Today a partner of Tereos, a French co-operative sugar group that processes agricultural raw materials into sugar, alcohol and starch, the Frandino Group has three sites that boast a total turnover of more than 300 million euros. The group also has over 250 employees and processes in excess of 700,000 tonnes of wheat per year. Having established Sedalcol (France) in the late 1990s, it then took the a strategic decision to establish Sedalcol (UK) in 2010, when the former Tate&Lyle citric acid plant in Selby, Yorkshire, was purchased.

Commenting on the formation of Sedalcol (UK) is Elena Frandino, Managing Director of Sedalcol (UK): “Following 18 months of construction in the UK, the commissioning of the plant and production at Sedalcol (UK) started in April 2012 and has continued with no interruption. In fact, we are celebrating our fifth anniversary this year.” She continues: “The reason we decided to build a distillery in the UK was because we were already supplying the UK market from our French plant. Yorkshire is also a good area for the sourcing of raw material wheat, with all of our wheat locally sourced within a 50-mile radius. Additionally, we have a very long-term relationship with the main spirit producers in the UK and are considered as a highly reliable supplier with strong standards.” Currently employing approximately 60 people at its 32-acre site in Selby, Sedalcol (UK) focuses on neutral grain alcohol as its main product. On top of this, the company produces gluten, the wheat protein, which is sold to the bakery industry and is also used for pet food and aqua feed; other products

include native and modified dry starch, which is sold to the paper industry, and wheatfeed and liquid bottom still. Both of the latter are co-products of the company’s main production and are sold to the animal nutrition industry.

Revitalised community The company’s move to a former Selby idle factory has proven to have a positive impact on the community, thanks to employment opportunities and the redevelopment of the local area through investment in the development of a new sports field and community facilities at Selby College. “Sedalcol (UK) has contributed to new work opportunities and developed business for all of the suppliers, haulers, contractors of the locals,” confirms Elena. “For example, every day we receive more than 30 trucks of wheat and we ship out an equivalent number of trucks with finished products. The close proximity of our sourced wheat also reduces transport to the minimum amount possible.” This wheat arrives to the plant by HGV (heavy goods vehicle), where the truck 29


is then weighed and a representative sample is taken from the load for analysis. Wheat is then offloaded into an intake pit and conveyed into storage silos. During distillation, the fermented wine feeds the distillation columns where the separation and rectification of alcohol/water is performed. In terms of alcohol production, the final products are grain neutral alcohol, at 96 per cent, head and tails and fusel oils.

Plant efficiency

Benefiting from being ideally located in a high wheat producing region, which lowers costs and pollution levels related to transportation, Elena says the sustainability-focused firm has also ensured its plant operates a reliable and sustainable supply chain: “From the wheat, everything is recovered and valorised and effluents are very limited and treated on site in our waste water plant. Furthermore, all production processes are operated in a highly energy efficient way, by reducing consumption and by producing our own electricity on-site. Generally, UK regulation requires us to operate by

Sedalcol (UK) has also enjoyed solid success in the UK, which has resulted in the company being listed in the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain Report

Sedalcol (UK) applying the best available techniques, therefore we are always striving to improve in this area.” Key to delivering a reliable supply chain is the automation of the ISO 9001:2008 certified plant, which operates on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. “This allows the plant to efficiently perform several tasks and controls production on a continuous basis,” says Elena. To further boost its environmentally friendly activities, the plant also limits CO2 emissions thanks to maximum heat recovery in the plant. As it continues to find ways to enhance energy efficiency and sustainability at its Selby plant, Sedalcol (UK) has also enjoyed solid success in the UK, which has resulted in the company being listed in the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain Report. With the plant’s products certain to remain in demand over the coming years, Elena says Sedalcol (UK) is also paying attention to market developments, such as Brexit and the induction of a sugar tax in October 2016, and responding accordingly: “We believe

blyth+blyth Consulting Engineers We are a multidisciplinary engineering design and project management organisation, providing nationwide expertise from four UK offices. A high proportion of our business is with blue-chip national and international companies in the distilling, manufacturing, logistics, commercial property, healthcare and education sectors. We are comfortable as part of a design team or as the lead consultant delivering construction projects from the feasibility stage, through approvals and procurement, to final handover. 31


Sedalcol (UK) that the sugar tax announced in the UK could create new opportunity for the sweeteners sector by stimulating product reformulation in the food and beverage sector. In terms of new developments, a natural evolution of starch plant is the production of more complex starch derivatives such as sweetener syrups. We are currently analysing this opportunity to pursue these developments.”

the industry, however this will hopefully soon be clarified and businesses in general will be able to make more sound decisions. In the meantime, Sedalcol (UK) will focus on efficiently improving

and growing its offer to the market while keeping a very open approach to any new opportunity that may arise in the sector,” Elena concludes. D

Giordano & C. Giordano & C. is an Italian based, worldwide electro-mechanical contractor, established in the 1920s, specialising in the design and realisation of complete systems for the service industry and big infrastructure sectors. Over 160 technicians, who possess absolute professionalism, operate across two different business units. The ‘Industrial BU’ designs, realises and installs turnkey machines and production lines for advanced industrial turnkey applications, while the ‘Infrastructure BU’ is involved in the develop of complete MEP systems. The design, construction and supply of robotic

“Looking ahead, there are uncertainties due to Brexit and how the UK will position itself in the market. This is causing delay in certain decisions in

systems, handling systems, automated warehouses and workstations are the result of advanced skills in electrical, mechanical and software integrated engineering. 33


Ripe Now

A fruitful existence

One of the leading UK based tropical fruit suppliers and packers, Ripe Now pursues the not inconsiderable goal of ensuring the products it supplies are fresh and in season all year round


ver the last two decades the UK has become increasingly reliant on imports of fruit and vegetables, with growth driven, in part, by large increases in the importing of non-native foods such as mangos, pineapples, melons and avocados. Although imports from EU countries such as Spain continue to dominate the marketplace, consumer trends have opened up considerable opportunities for growers and suppliers in regions including South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Two men who have witnessed these trends taking effect during their respective careers in the fresh produce industry are Julian Wright and Lewey Hook, owners and directors of Ripe Now. During their time working together, the pair met Neil Gott, now Operations Director of Ripe Now, and the three would join forces in forming

the aforementioned company in 2006. “The opportunity to create Ripe Now came about on the back of a change in the market where the demand for prepared fruit, as opposed to whole fruit, increased with the product becoming more of an enticing prospect for our customers,” Julian begins. Beginning life humbly, with its first pallets packed by Julian, Lewey and Neil themselves, Ripe Now is today home to more than 90 full time employees and up to 40 seasonal employees. The company’s focus is the importing of tropical fruit, with as many as 665 containers of mango, kiwi, pomegranate seeds and coconut chunks from 14 different countries brought into the UK in a single year. From this massive volume of goods, circa 13,000 pallets of high quality product were subsequently dispatched. Ripe Now currently operates from two

sites, one in Coates, near Peterborough, where it carries out the handling, packing and labelling of its mango and kiwi products, and the other in Kirton, near Boston, which is focused on providing the highest quality of third party packing and storage services. Across both sites the company has cool storage space to accommodate over 400 pallets, as well as multiple conditioning rooms for mango, kiwi and other climacteric fruits. By forging close relationships with growers around the world, Julian and his team have managed to create a seamless supply calendar of smooth fleshed mango arrivals 52 weeks of the year. “In the case of mango, it is far from being a manufactured product, in that it comes in all manner of varieties, shapes and sizes,” Julian explains. “Mango is also not like an apple or pear, in that it has a shorter shelf life. This 35

Ripe Now means that the fruit needs to be picked and shipped in a relatively immature state, before being ripened and sold on, and therefore it is imperative that we maintain a continuous focus on maintaining the consistency of the product.

Seamless supply “Fortunately, we have a high level of experience and knowledge within the business, which means that we intrinsically know not only which countries grow mango, but which growers grow the right varieties that our customers demand, at the right time of year. We have just seen the end of the supply season in West Africa, specifically the Ivory Coast and Mali, and the beginning of the Caribbean season in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Following this we will run into Israel, then into Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, before returning back to Africa. This gives us a continual, seamless supply and our task turns to ensuring consistency of quality, which


we do through a package of measures, including guaranteeing that all of our growers meet the appropriate technical, health and safety, and food hygiene criteria, and ensuring the traceability of all of our produce.” In the last ten years plus, Ripe Now has also invested considerable capital into the regions and communities in which its growers operate, ensuring that regular seasonal work is available for local families to earn additional income. Supporting these communities through investments in local facilities, schools and infrastructure is treated as an important responsibility of the company

Geest Line Geest Line has fostered trade links between the UK and the Caribbean for more than 65 years, and today carries more cargo between Europe and the Windward and Leeward islands than any other shipping line. The origins of the service lie in the shipment of bananas eastbound, which continues to this day, as well as providing a westbound service for all types of cargoes. The flexibility of the service is maintained today with a fleet of modern reefer ships, which are able to offer a wide range of breakbulk and containerised cargoes, with weekly sailings from Portsmouth and Le Havre, France.

as it looks to give back to those that have helped help their collective success. This year the company was included in the London Stock Exchange Group’s list of 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. Such recognition is a positive reflection on the hard work and financial growth achieved by Ripe Now in the last few years and it is hoped that such growth continues as we move into the latter months of 2017 and into 2018. “Looking at market conditions in the short term we are optimistic that the immediate future will be positive, not only for us but our growers and customers also,” Julian concludes. “While we have never been ones to forecast our future too far in advance, we do have a strong business plan in place which, when followed, will ensure that we keep doing what we do to the highest possible standards. We know there are things we can always improve upon, which we will strive to do, but what will be key for us is control and continuous focus.” D

Finn Spring Oy

A refreshing choice

By focusing on high quality products and eye-catching designs, Finn Spring Oy has achieved rapid growth in Finland and prestigious awards for its spring water based beverages 37


ounded in 1991 in the middle of the cleanest environment in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland, Finn Spring Oy has grown over the years to become Finland’s largest spring water manufacturer thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of its founders and their decision to source and sell fresh spring water from the clear natural spring of Multila. “We are a family-owned company that was founded by Mr Hannu Ali-Haapala and Ms Virpi Ali-Haapala, who found out they had the world’s cleanest water where they were living. The two began bottling the water on a small scale, however over the years production and demand has grown. Despite this success, the company is still 100 per cent family owned, with the two entrepreneurs still running the company and two of their children working at Finn Spring Oy too alongside 76 other personnel,” begins Goran Weber, Commercial Director at Finn Spring Oy. Benefiting from UNESCO studied fresh water that is proven to be the best quality in the world, Finn Spring Oy is able to provide customers both in Finland and across the globe with a luxury that is not only great tasting but affordable too. To meet the needs of a wider range of customers, the company

Founders of Finn Spring: Mr. Hannu Ali-Haapala and Mrs. Virpi Ali-Haapala received the German Design Award 2017 for SPRING AQUAPremium bottle design in Frankfurt in February 2017

has developed a strong portfolio that is comprised of Spring Waters, sweet flavoured carbonated Spring Waters and Spring Aqua Premium. Spring waters are suitable for everyone, contain no allergenic ingredients and are purely fresh and natural. Spring Aqua, meanwhile, is packed in a totally new design that exudes luxury and style, making it perfect for catering and restaurants but also for consumers looking for premium products for everyday use.

Award winners Because of its stunning appearance and the level of quality provided to customers, Spring Aqua’s 0.33 litre

Finn Spring bottles over 70 million litres of spring water based beverages annually. It has two factories in Central Ostrobothnia, Finland


bottle was the winner in the international Pentawards 2015 Gold Award design competition, which is exclusively devoted to packaging design in all of its forms. Further accolades were provided to Finn Spring in 2017 at the German Design Awards for its Spring Aqua Premium 0.75 litre bottle. Both bottles are tear drop shaped, with a classic style that exudes modern elegance and pure, natural freshness. As a further confirmation of the taste of the water, Spring Aqua has received the Superior Taste Award from the International Taste and Quality Institute in Brussels in both 2016 and 2017.

Ongoing investment The final part of the portfolio, Spring flavoured carbonated waters are made of real spring water and flavoured gently with berries or fruits that strengthen the great natural taste of Spring water products. “The Spring flavoured carbonated waters segment of the business is growing in the Finnish market currently; however we don’t export this product range as we use Finnish bottles,” says Goran. He says: “Our main customers are the Finnish grocery trade; here we sell under our own brand Spring or our premium brand Spring Aqua; we are also a private label manufacturer for the grocery trade. By operating in this way we are the biggest producer of water products in Finland. In 2011 we made the strategic decision to acquire a small local bottler in Sweden to ensure our representation in the Swedish market. Since progressing into this market, we have grown through using the same strategy of delivering our own brand and private label products to the grocery trade as well as other manufacturers. Additionally, Finn Spring exports water for which our main markets are Germany, China, the Emirates and South Korea. Although export is not a huge activity for us at present it continues to grow and we are interested in increasing international business over the coming years.” With a facility in Finland and one in Sweden, the company decided to increase capacity further in 2015 with a new production factory in its homeland. This investment is a key part of an ongoing investment programme that

Finn Spring Oy is being undertaken at Finn Spring in line with the company’s owners’ aims of delivering optimum production that is environmentally friendly, ultramodern and efficient. “Investments have been heavy when it comes to Finn Spring having the latest technology to ensure the production of efficient and environmentally friendly products while also adhering to the most stringent food safety regulations. Finn Springs is also certified according to FSSC 22 000, which puts demand on how things are produced with regards to food safety. “We have also invested a lot to decrease CO2 emissions while also invested to ensure we use the most environmentally friendly caps on the bottles to take down energy consumption. Moreover, we use solar panels at our facilities, so there is a lot of investment going on to ensure that even if we are much smaller than major blue chip companies, we are at least on the same

level when it comes to capacity and technical performance.” As a company committed to improvements in all areas, further investments are certain over the coming years, not only in terms of machinery and equipment, but also with regards to capacity. “We want to be the biggest water producer in the Nordics, which

SPRING AQUA Premium Carbonated Spring Water 0.33l

means we need to increase our exporting activities and also expand our capacity in both Finland and Sweden. In order to grow we will look at Nordic markets as well as opportunities further afield to deliver our premium bottle, premium taste products to new customers on an international scale,” Goran concludes. D

Härkäneva factory in Finland 39

e h t n o p u k c Sto

No.1 Best Set eFololdiBnragnd



The Co-op

Whether it is through promoting local British produce, engaging its members or working with thousands of good causes, The Co-op is all about making a positive, lasting difference

Locally sourced,

locally loved W

PURINA® We are PURINA®. In the UK, there are over 18 million cats and dogs, and shoppers are buying pet food regularly to feed their pets, who eat on average twice a day. With a repeat purchase every ten days, the pet food category has proven itself to be extremely valuable to The Co-op. FELIX® is the number one selling pet food brand across the entire category, with total brand sales worth over £247 million. It’s key that The Co-op stock the market leaders in order to capitalise on this popularity and meet customer demand.

hile it is understandably proud of its history, which it can trace back to the Rochdale Pioneers in the mid-1800s, The Co-op is clearly focused on its future, moving forward with a clear purpose and momentum. “In recent times, we have invested considerably in The Co-op brand, its businesses, colleagues and communities,” begins Divisional Managing Director, Tina Mitchell. “In the last 12 months, we have relaunched our Co-op Membership scheme and returned to our iconic clover-leaf logo design. While this work

is ongoing, results are already positive as we continue to outperform the convenience market with latest annual results showing a 3.5 per cent like-forlike sales increase.” Operating at the heart of communities, The Co-op identifies what it calls the ‘Co-op Difference’ as being what sets it apart. “Our members have a say in how we are run and our membership is continuing to grow,” Tina – whose responsibilities include the community retailer’s 160 convenience stores in Wales - continues. “The Co-op now has some 4.5 million active members 41

UK-wide, and our ambition is to have around 400,000 members in Wales by the end of 2017. Our national television campaign included the message ‘Great things happen when we work together’ and coincided with over 4000 local good causes UK-wide sharing more than £9 million to make a difference to local lives in their communities.

Local champions “This is money that has been raised by our members. Every time they swipe their membership card when buying Co-op own-branded products and services one per cent benefits local good causes. In Wales, all of that has added up with some 300 local organisations sharing around £500,000 in April 2017 to make a difference in their community. We have also raised £6 million for the British Red Cross, and our charity partnership will continue to work to confront the

issues of loneliness and social isolation in local communities across the UK, reconnecting thousands of people with their local communities.” The term ‘local’ is also a cornerstone of The Co-op’s food strategy, where it is committed to backing British. It knows that quality, trust and provenance are key themes for its customers and it is always working closely to champion,

support and celebrate smaller, local producers. It is their traditions, passion and innovation which makes their products loved locally, and as a community retailer The Co-op is committed to giving these products pride of place in its stores. A further example of this came in May 2017, from which time all of The Co-op’s ownbranded fresh meat is to be British, adding to the British-only beef, chicken, ham, pork, sausages, duck and turkey that it already sold. It also only uses British meat in its own-label chilled ready meals, pies and sandwiches. “Our work with local suppliers extends across all categories,” Tina states. “For example, 11 smaller-scale Welsh breweries, which supply 23 Welsh ales, won contracts to supply the Co-op last December, while we have just given a first retail listing in Wales to a sports nutrition drink called Pro Iso. This was developed by performance nutritionist Jon Williams and former Olympic sprinter Darren Campbell, together with the Powys-based Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company. Our commitment to backing British agriculture will this year also see the Coop offering record levels of Welsh beef and lamb. We have also teamed up with the Q Awards to search for the ‘Small Producer of the Year’, where we will work with finalists to give them a listing at their local Co-op.”

Growth opportunities The Co-op has been described by industry analysts and commentators as the fastest growing convenience retailer, and it is continually looking for opportunities to grow further still. “In


The Co-op 2016,” Tina describes, “we opened more than 100 new stores UK-wide and we plan to open a similar amount throughout 2017, and in subsequent years. In Wales, the goal is to open up 12 new food stores in 2017. Our objective is for them to deliver a compelling, convenient and cooperative shopping experience locally, offering the right range in the right location, while working to become a local hub and an asset in the local community.” The first new Co-op store in Wales of 2017 opened in Rossett, near Wrexham, while others are planned for Bryn Road, Swansea, Cwmbach, Rhayader, Monmouth, Radyr, Pembroke, Llanelli and Machen. Meanwhile, a number of other stores are also benefitting from major makeovers, including stores in St David’s Park, Old Colwyn, Holyhead, Talgarth and Barmouth. In total, The

Co-op’s multi-million-pound investment in its Welsh stores is estimated to create up to 250 new retail jobs. “As we take such pride in giving back to the lives of our members and communities, the way we work with those members, our suppliers and each other will remain a key focus for years to come,” Tina concludes. “We have to look for all opportunities to build and expand our reach for the future, to grow our business and our membership. We want to be the best convenience food business that we can possibly be. Serving our members and customers with the products and services that they need, when and where they need them. We have a proud and pioneering past, and by working together and being close to what our members, customers and communities care about, we can keep making that Co-op difference for another 170 years.” D 43

Delicious and nutritious Kendal Nutricare produces world class health care products, made from locally sourced ingredients, from its factory in the heart of the English Lake District 44


hen FoodChain Magazine last spoke to Ross McMahon, Managing Director of Kendal Nutricare, back in the summer of 2016, the Lake District based pharmaceutical research company, and Britain’s only infant formula manufacturer, was on the cusp of an exciting sales drive. Designed to expose its world class health care products, the range of which extends the entire lifecycle from infant to adult formulas, to ever more consumers, this drive has been nothing short of a whirlwind success.

“During the second half of 2016 we went into full-on sales mode, as it were, and this has gained considerable momentum in 2017, as we have introduced a full complement of products, including infant milks, infant cereals and organic variants,” Ross begins. “A year ago, we were selling our products regionally in the North West of England, as well as some niche items in select stores in London, Manchester and Liverpool, and since then this has expanded to the point where, as of the beginning of June 2017, we are now supplying our products to 150 branches of Morrisons across the country.

Kendal Nutricare

Over the next 12 months you are going to see Kendal Nutricare products becoming more widely available in the UK, particularly as our on-the-shelf presence in major retailers increases

product is fundamental, there is an inherent respect and confidence attached to products created in the UK to British Retail Consortium (BRC) standards. Kendal Nutricare’s factory, located in the Cumbrian town of the same name, or the ‘Centre of Nutrition’ as it is known, was first built in 1962. Spanning more than 14 acres and home to over 120 staff, many of whom have 20 years’ service or more, the factory was recently audited and

see first-hand how we differ from the big multinationals who are all importing their finished product into the UK from overseas. Only Kendal Nutricare sources its ingredients and manufactures all of its products here on this island.” The unquestioned quality of the company’s products, and its general approach to business, continues to be recognised in the form of various industry awards, including being named

successfully retained its BRC Grade AA status. “Optimum quality in every product we make is something we are constantly delivering every single day and this is what gives our customers that extra degree of confidence,” Ross continues. “We make every effort to communicate openly with the public about how we source local raw materials, for example the full cream milk we use comes from the Lake District, which is the second biggest milk pool in the UK. Inside the full cream are fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, that bind with the calcium to make it more readily bioavailable to the infant. We believe local provenance will become an increasing area of interest to consumers who can

as ‘UK Business of the Year 2017’, and ‘Exporter of the Year’, at the 2017 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Worldpay UK Business Awards. “Awards such as these are really all about recognising the efforts and dedication of our employees,” Ross enthuses. “We also hope that it gives the community in which we work and exist a sense of pride, one that they also get from seeing the Kendal name on all the products we create, which they will now be able to find in an increasing number of locations across the country.”

New trends Ross and his team’s passion for what they do shows no signs of wilting, with he and his colleagues continuing to

“At the same time, we are also extending our reach into more foreign markets, including the United States, Canada, Australia and France. In China, we have expanded our product’s presence into more than 8000 mother and baby stores, giving us exposure in 33 of the country’s Provinces, while 2016 also saw us enter into North Africa for the first time, where we are now one of the top three brands supplying pharmacies in the region.”

Local provenance In an industry sector where the guaranteed quality of the finished 45

Diana Food Diana Food offers consumers well-being solutions for the food and beverage industry. Well-being has become an imperative for consumers all over the world. In close partnership with our customers, we are committed to helping them to write their story. We enhance their businesses with innovative natural-based solutions providing Health, Pleasure and Trust. From an extended range of carefully selected fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood raw materials, Diana Food offers high value solutions, providing nutritional claims and standardised active ingredients, while creating a real sensory experience, and ensuring clean label and sustainable products. Relying on high experience, knowledge and expertise in agronomy and industrial processes, the company guarantees the food safety and traceability of its products. Diana Food relies on 1300 wonderful people, 11 industrial sites and 13 sales offices in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia.


Kendal Nutricare travel frequently, attending exhibitions and conferences, visiting supermarkets and looking at their ranges of products, and going abroad in order to identify new trends and markets. Ross is also always looking at how to better improve consumer health by manufacturing products using natural raw materials combined with essential nutrients. “The issue of obesity is a very hot topic at present,” Ross explains. “Much like how trans fats were found to be harmful, and subsequently targeted for reduction in products, it has been noted how some of the components in vegetable oils and palm oil have similar negative qualities. Bearing this in mind, we must ask why such ingredients continue to be used in infant formulas and could this use actually be contributing to later life obesity? If these oils are suspected of playing a role then surely, regardless of the cost savings their inclusion creates, we need to make every effort as an industry to reduce their use.”

utilise this to increase our employee numbers, improve efficiencies, and invest further into research and development. The latter will allow us to look at how we can move into the

creation of clinical products for the healthcare sector, which is an area that I think will be very exciting for us as we look to the future.” D

Strong expansion The second half of 2017 is already proving to be an exciting time for Kendal Nutricare. It officially launches its Kendalife range of fortified fruit smoothies at the CBME trade show in July in Shanghai, the largest fair for baby, children and maternity products. At the same event the company will also be introducing its international customers to its organic version of Kendamil and a new range of export Kendamil cereals in 300g tins. Meanwhile, back in the UK, August will see its products become available nationwide via another of the UK’s largest supermarket chains. “Over the next 12 months you are going to see Kendal Nutricare products becoming more widely available in the UK, particularly as our on-the-shelf presence in major retailers increases,” Ross states. “At the same time, we will look to expand strongly in global markets like Africa and the Middle East, while continuing to push on into China at a time when quality standards are rising significantly. We still have huge capacity available to us in Kendal and we are certain that we can 47

Reaching maximum potential

First class ingredients, high-quality product development and the embrace of innovative technologies have come together to form the recipe for Max Burgers’ success and global expansion

The Green Family was launched in January 2016 and has become the most successful product launch in Max Burgers’ history



ach year, ISI Wissing carries out its annual trademark survey where it analyses 250 different brands in Sweden. Using a scoring system and carried out across numerous customer groups, the survey’s results show that Max Burgers has the industry’s most satisfied customers. This is not a one-off result either, rather the most recent trademark survey represents the fifteenth year in a row that Max Burgers has topped the chart. In addition to being Sweden’s favourite hamburger restaurant chain, it was also one of the first, with its first restaurant being opened by its founders, Curt Bergfors and Britta Fredriksson, in 1968. Almost 50 years later, Max Burgers has 122 restaurants, employing approximately 5400 people and bringing in an annual turnover of 300 million euros. Max is still a family owned business with Curt Bergfors as working chairman. “We have had an excellent few years since we last spoke in 2010, expanding our reach across our home market of Sweden, entering new countries and growing the business by around 20 per cent year-on-year,” states Richard Bergfors, President of Max Burgers. “What we have seen during this time, in terms of drivers for growth, have been two key trends. The first of these is the

Max Burgers

As we saw more people switching from red meat to these alternatives we set ourselves the goal that one in every three meals we sell should be a non-red meat option by 2020 Richard Bergfors, President at Max Burgers

continued demand for a premium brand that promotes higher quality and better tasting products, while the second has been the rapid rise of the vegetarian and vegan market. We have found more and more people are thinking about both their own health and the sustainability of the products they consume, and we have launched a range of menu items that have been embraced by this growing group of consumers.”

Already present in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the company has recently branched out into Egypt, and will open its first restaurant in Poland in September 2017 and later on in Qatar. “The markets we identify for growth are those that have proven to be successful for fast-food chains, but which will also benefit from the introduction of a premium product to fill such a gap,” Richard continues. “We believe we are approaching our maximum potential when it comes to our presence in Sweden, so our focus is very much on growing the brand internationally, particularly through franchising which has proven to be very successful for us in the Middle East.” Wherever the company is based its menu quickly becomes recognised for the quality of the options available. “We never cut corners when it comes to quality and that is the reason why our products consistently win taste tests all over the world,” Richard says. “We work with only the best suppliers, developing our menu in partnership with them using the finest ingredients to create a range of food items that our customers truly appreciate.”

Customer flow These returning customers will also have witnessed how Max Burgers has embraced technology and innovation

The new restaurant concept for Max Burgers has been designed by Wingårdhs Architects, and has a Scandinavian touch of wood, light and space 49

in order to make their experience of visiting its restaurants more rewarding and enjoyable. “We were one of the first major chains to introduce touch screen ordering on a mass scale,” Richard explains. “We have recently launched our newest version of this system, while at the same time we have been working to redesign a number of our branches to ensure that customer flow is even more adapted to the growing digitalisation of the business. “Today, well over 50 per cent of our customers do not actually visit a physical cashier when entering one of our branches, preferring instead to use one of our self-service kiosks or to order through the use of our app. Whereas in the past we would probably have had an average of eight-to-ten tellers in each restaurant, we now sometimes have as few as just two as more customers have become


High quality coffee is appreciated

accustomed to ordering their meals for themselves, thus saving them time. It is for these reasons that we believe Max Burgers is at the head of the everevolving digital wave sweeping through our industry.”

Cutting edge As important as taste, quality and innovation are to the company, one of its other fundamental cornerstones is its commitment to being a socially responsible and environmentally conscious entity. “Sustainability has never been more important than now, neither for us, nor our guests,” Richard reveals. “Being on the cutting edge of this is one of the things we have always tried to achieve, going as far as becoming the only fast food chain in the world to climate label all of our products. We are also the only chain in our industry to make carbon offsets to one hundred per cent, for all emissions

Max Burgers

Frisco Burger is one of the most popular burgers with the significant bun and Max original dressing

from the farmers’ land to our guest’s hand. We are doing it by capturing carbon through tree plantations in Africa. “An extension of this has been the launch of the aforementioned vegetarian and vegan menus, our Green Family. As we saw more people switching from red meat to these alternatives we set ourselves the goal that one in every three meals we sell should be a non-red meat option by 2020. We have in fact already surpassed this target and as a result have reset our aim for one in every two products purchased to be an

alternative to red meat by 2022, which we are confident we can achieve and maybe even surpass.” For the 2016 financial year, Max Burgers posted record sales and with

the first half of 2017 having furthered this trend, Richard expects 2017 to be another record breaking year. “It is not out of our reach to potentially double our business in the years to come,” he concludes. “One of the things we will be focusing on is looking at how we can take Max Burgers into new markets as we continue to expand. I believe that within the next five years our international presence will have grown considerably and may even be in a position to surpass our home market of Sweden in terms of returns.” D

Over the years Max has come out as the number one restaurant for ‘Best Service’. Pride and good team work are two of the major key factors among staff

The self-service kiosks for order and payment are well integrated in the interior design at the newest Max restaurants 51


Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF)

Embracing change

Solar panels at FSDF member Cold Move Ltd

Chris Sturman, Chief Executive Officer of the FSDF

While its moniker may have changed in the interim, the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) has been an ever-present source of support and encouragement to its members for over 100 years


ocused on representing and supporting the interests of the entire UK food and drink logistics industry, the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) began life in 1911, when it was first known as the National Association of Cold Store Managers and Ice Makers. Several changes of name occurred in the following decades as the association’s reach and influence grew, bringing us to the point where, today, the FSDF oversees virtually the entire food logistics and supply chain spectrum.

“The change in name reflects how we now work with retailers, wholesalers, food service operators, manufacturers and, arguably our core group, third party logistics service suppliers in the temperature control sector,” explains Chris Sturman, Chief Executive Officer of the FSDF. “In a nutshell, we manage the relationship between the whole of the supply chain and external bodies, as well as the UK government and the European Union. To coin a popular catchphrase, we ‘help to feed the nation’.” 53

It is the job of the FSDF to effectively guide its members, a veritable who’s who of the food and beverage industry, and advise them of what actions may or may not be in their best interests, while also ensuring that their activities remain compliant with all laws, regulations and standards. “I have been in this job now for eight years and I can honestly say I have never been busier,” Chris enthuses. “I believe this to be, at least in part, due to the fact that there is more communication and collaboration going on than I can remember, which is a very positive thing.”

Global view The federation has access to a wealth of information that its members can gain access to, not to mention a significant contact network, which is used to ensure best practice is applied to any undertaking. Perhaps its biggest collaborating partner is the British Retail Consortium, with which it has helped shape and perfect standards that have gone on to be adopted around the world. In addition, the FSDF works closely with the Health and Safety Executive and other bodies tasked with improving the industry’s environmental standards. “I think it is fair to say that we spend the

FSDF Truck


Chris meeting HRH The Princess Royal

vast majority of our time, quietly and without making a lot of fuss, ensuring that people have actually got food on their plate, wherever that plate may be,” Chris states. One of Chris’ most significant areas of focus over the last decade has revolved around environmental standards and identifying ways that the industry can reduce its carbon footprint.

“One of our bigger achievements has been the establishing of one of the key Climate Change Agreements (CCA) with the UK government,” he enthuses. “The agreement for the standalone food logistics facilities sector, which we negotiated as a federation over ten years ago, provides energy levy rebates against pre-agreed targets being successfully met. This has enabled FSDF CCA members to receive tax back from the government in a simple, measurable way, which they can reinvest in their existing facilities to further improve their environmental standards, be that through the installation of solar panels, LED lighting or cold store refrigeration management systems.” Recognising that the supply chain of the food and drink industry is very much a global network, the FSDF takes a global view of all its activities. Nevertheless, one cannot escape that perhaps the most pressing issue for its members at present does exist close to home, and that is the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. “When it comes to Brexit, we see our role as being all about making sure, no matter how negotiations play out or what changes are enacted as it relates to borders or tariffs, that adverse impact on the existing supply chain is kept to the minimum,” Chris says.

Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) “For our part, we are currently running regular regional Brexit sessions, meeting with our members to gauge their opinions and identify their worries, and where they see future challenges or opportunities, which we can then feed back to our contacts within UK government.”

Seismic change Come the summer of 2018, Chris will have been in his role for nine years and while he is suitably proud of the FSDF’s achievements in that time, he has already made plans to pass on the reins to someone new as he moves into a well-earned retirement. Beyond this date however, Chris retains a clear vision of what the future holds for the industry and the Federation. “We have worked hard in recent years to raise the positioning of the Federation to the point where it is recognised for the important role it

Chris winning Lifetime Achievement Award (Temperature Controlled Storage & Distribution Awards 2015)

plays in assisting the wider food supply chain,” Chris concludes. “There has been seismic change throughout the food logistics industry during my time here and that will continue during what will also be a period defined by both further consolidation and greater globalisation. It is therefore important that we continue to provide our members with all the relevant information and support they require, while also reinforcing our own relationships at home and abroad. “Things change quickly in this industry and we need to react to these changes accordingly, be it the increasing use of online shopping, the entrance into the sector of Amazon or simply the changing shopping habits of customers. Fortunately, our profile has never been higher than it is today and this will only help as we continue to do all we can to support our members.” D 55

When a long shot pays off 56

Longshot Country Inns

We rip up our menus and change the whole thing every month, which may be surprising but we feed approximately 4500 people a week


With 23 years of experience in successfully owning and operating some of London’s most unique businesses, Longshot has used its accumulated capital and expertise to take on larger challenges in the leisure and property sectors

ormed in 1994 to acquire a pub in London’s Fulham Road, Longshot went on to acquire an enviable portfolio of unique businesses in the capital. Having successfully opened and operated London’s first 24-hour restaurant, Vingt-Quatre, London’s leading health and fitness club, The Third Space, and London’s most established media club, The Groucho Club Longshot sold all of the companies and assets by July 2007. Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors decided to continue with their exciting and diverse track record of starting, scaling and exiting successful and unique businesses and returned to the entrepreneurial world alongside Hector Ross with the establishment of Longshot Country Inns. “In 2010 there was an opportunity to buy a little business called Bel & the Dragon, which was four country pubs that came with demotivated teams and a lot of debt in the company. The reason we wanted to buy Bel & the Dragon, despite these challenges, was because we saw potential in these market towns outside London, where you can’t get good value for money and the menu never changes. We wanted to provide consumers with chefs that can do amazing things with good food in lovely surroundings that are complimented by a good wine list,” says Hector Ross,

Chief Operating Officer at Longshot Country Inns. “Having acquired these sites, we decided we wanted to provide home cooked foods from scratch, which meant filleting our own fish and cutting our own potatoes as well as looking at what produce to grow on site. We got that up and running at our beautiful site in Cookham, which was the first ever gastro pub, and then progressed to Godalming, then Windsor and Reading,” he adds. “Today we have little market gardens at all of our sites, which enables us to cook our own produce for guests, educate our employees and also deliver the concept of Root to Table so the story of where our produce comes from is clear.” The company also works in conjunction with the local primary school at its Kingsclere site, who then look after the produce in the gardens and learn all about it.

Adding bedrooms Since these early days, Longshot Country Inns has grown significantly and today has seven sites in charming towns and villages across the South of England following the purchase of sites in Churt (2013), Kingsclere (2015) and Odiham (2014). Key to this growth was the company’s strategic decision to provide accommodation to guests as well as employees upon realising it had too much employee 57

accommodation in Cookham. “We had 15 team bedrooms, so we converted five into guest rooms with the plan of charging no more than £100 for a night. We were suddenly full, which meant on a Sunday and Monday we had an extra ten diners; following the success of this we acquired a historic coaching inn in Churt that had 14 bedrooms, as well as Odiham, which has 15 bedrooms, then Kingsclere, which has nine bedrooms. We then converted some rooms with the intention of hiring more local employees and also built more rooms in Churt and Odiham. Today we have 47 bedrooms across seven sites and have a turnover of £10 million,” highlights Hector.

Delicious food While the sites are all unique characterful country inns with a strong history and heritage, the level of service provided by Longshot Country Inns is innovative and forward-thinking, as Hector explains:


“We rip up our menus and change the whole thing every month, which may be surprising but we feed approximately 4500 people a week and know the average Bel & the Dragon guest will dine with us twice a month. We think they return because they know there is always something different on our menu. Of course there are always staple products such as Sirloin Steak, which comes from our wonderful butchers Thatchams in Newbury; we have our own purpose-built chiller in their butchery, which ages our heritage beef for 65 days. We also work with our supplier Pugh Piglets, based in Lancashire, the furthest away product for us, however we couldn’t think of a nicer supplier to work with. We sold just over 550,000 portions of Rotisserie Roasted Suckling Pig in 2016.” Other items on the menus include seared Lyme Bay Scallops, Cornish Lemon Sole and Duck Shepherd’s Pie. Complementing Bel & the Dragon’s

Longshot Country Inns delicious food is its extensive wine menu, with wines coming directly from locations such as France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand and Canada.

Innovative twist Keen to have close relationships with suppliers and thus ensure high quality produce, Longshot Country Inns regularly goes on trips with suppliers to develop close bonds and educate its

team as they progress up the corporate ladder. “In our seven years of ownership we have taken three kitchen porters to Senior Chef level,” says Hector. “We have also grown to 260 employees, which will go up to 300 in December 2017; team retention is critical as we want our employees to grow with us.” Recently announced the winner of the Best Premium Food Offer Award at 2017’s prestigious Publican Awards,

Bel & the Dragon anticipates further growth and success in the future thanks to its strong reputation for delivering an innovative twist to hospitality. With Longshot Country Inns also recently securing £1 million funding to expand its accommodation offer from 47 to 61 rooms, the company will be delighted to have more visitors coming through its doors over the coming years. D 59

Taking salmon to the next level


High-end Danish salmon processor Vega Salmon AS is on a mission to deliver delicious and natural seafood from the Nordic waters to consumers across the world


iewing itself as a partner for business, people and the planet, Vega Salmon AS is a new generation salmon processor that combines the best from tradition with modern technology to deliver the best quality products that the industry can offer. Focused on the production of salmon, which contributes to 88 per cent of the business, with trout and others taking the remaining ten per cent and two per cent respectively, the company achieved a turnover of 136 million euros in 2015 thanks to demand in Europe (55 per cent), the US (40 per cent) and the rest of the world (five per cent). “Vega Salmon was established in 2004, when the fish processing industry was mostly competing on price, and cost-cutting was the name of the game. Quality, food safety and sustainability were buzzwords, which seldom made it to the cooling disks as price concerns dominated. We quickly realised that the game needed to change. Consumers were becoming more demanding about quality and food safety and the world needed a gentler way to produce food. So, we set out to find a way to deliver better quality in a sustainable way while

maintaining competitive cost levels,” begins Lone Hollensen, Marketing Manager at Vega Salmon AS. “The answer was to combine the latest technology with lean production principles. We designed a unique, new processing facility in Handewitt, Germany, which was to become one of the most cutting edge fish processing factories in the world. Once the factory was ready, we began to take Vega Salmon to the next level,” she adds. Based in Handewitt since 2012, the company has the capacity to process more than 40,000 tonnes of raw material per year at its 12,000 square metre factory, which is one of the most advanced facilities when it comes to technology, food safety, quality surveillance and production efficiency in proportion to its size. This naturally leads to product consistency from customers seeking great tasting, high quality seafood from a company that meets top level certifications and specifications that includes IFS, MSC, ASC, OU Kosher and Purity.

Food safety standards Indeed, throughout the value chain, Vega Salmon conducts a zero-tolerance policy in terms of quality, food safety and sustainability as it closely collaborates with its suppliers, the farms and harvest stations to enhance standards and get even closer to nature. Discussing this commitment, Lone states: “Listeria is a challenge to all salmon manufacturers. We have introduced an innovative anti-listeria approach that replaces the traditional use of preservatives and stabilisers with radical preventive measures. These include our new factory, which is designed for the highest level of hygiene, an extreme focus on daily cleaning and cleaning inspection and an intensive testing programme for listeria in raw material, products and the environment. Due to our programme we can offer a very high level of food safety. In fact, in 2016 we sent 3000 samples of our main product, smoked Norwegian salmon, for testing at an external lab – each one of them were negative.” To ensure customers receive fresh products, Vega Salmon operates in a swift and efficient manner, with fresh fish

Vega Salmon AS harvested in the ocean and delivered to its factory as soon as two to three days after. From here, on day four, the fresh fish is processed efficiently in ten to 12 hours before it is then prepared to be shipped the same evening. By day five, customers anywhere in the world can then enjoy tasty salmon that is not only incredibly fresh, but also of the best possible quality.

Absolute premium Once processed, these high quality products are delivered to retailers, wholesalers, food service and food industry suppliers across the globe under private label brands and its own Vega brands. This includes two new fish concepts, Purity, a premium brand of Vega specified salmon, and New Nordic, conventional specified salmon that will also be under the premium brand bracket; there is also Vega Basic and private label products. Described

as one of nature’s diamonds, Purity Salmon is raised by two impassioned and dedicated northern Norwegian farmers that care for the environment and constantly follow the impact of their salmon farming in Astafjord; it is absolutely premium in every aspect, from the Norwegian Fjords to serving. New Nordic, meanwhile, is named after the New Nordic area, which has a reputation for craftsmanship,

sustainability, high quality, healthy and delicious salmon that is hand salted and smoked on beech wood. Exporting 90 per cent of its products, Vega Salmon has seen a positive customer response for Purity in existing markets such as Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Israel as well as the growing Australian market. Moving forward, the company’s strategic initiatives from 2017 to 2020 include winning high value customers through Purity as well as capturing new customers in core focus markets such as Japan, Australia and the US. Additionally, Vega Salmon will enhance its premium partner value proposition and strengthen supply chain operations with the goal of improving yield and efficiency. Much like the fish it is named after, the company is certain to continue its epic upstream journey with much success. D 61

Respecting tradition Since 2010, The Taste of Suffolk has been supplying its customers across East Anglia with the type of quality meat products that the Simons family have long been synonymous with C&K Meats C&K Meats are a family-owned abattoir and wholesaler, promoting British meat to high-end markets abroad. We take great pride in our passion for provenance, supplying high quality, high welfare, locally-reared beef, pork and lamb to some of the most discerning customers in the UK, and around the world. We are known throughout our industry for our commitment to animal welfare, low food miles and to reducing our carbon footprint, and have many accreditations including Red Tractor, RSPCA Assured and BRC Grade A. C&K also specialise in British Native Breeds such as Angus, Red Poll and Belted Galloway.



or three generations, the Simons family have been active within the food industry, during which time they successfully developed the Broad Oak range of products, while at the same time establishing a successful manufacturing base in the county of Essex. The success of its multi-award winning products, coupled with the introduction of Christopher Simons as Managing Director, provided further motivation to expand the business. Identifying a desire to retain local sourcing and manufacturing within East Anglia, the family set about bringing an existing Suffolk-based food production business into the fold in 2010. This business consisted of DP Meats, makers of quality bacon and ham, and Country Cottage Cooked Meats, known for its sausages. The acquisition itself was overseen by Roger Simons, who came out of retirement to return to a Director role, which would include the management of the expansion project. The purchase of the business provided the company with a manufacturing base in Suffolk, a team of experienced employees, new product ranges and the chance to continue to produce long-established, quality food products

including smoked meats using natural oak smoking techniques. “In the seven years since we purchased the business we have worked hard to build it up,” Roger explains. “In that time, and with the support of our customers, such as the East of England Co-op, we have widened its range of products, increased the number of employees it supports and added around 25 per cent to its annual turnover.” It was Roger who proposed bringing the complete line of products under, what was then, the newly formed The Taste of Suffolk branding.

Trusted suppliers The final piece of the puzzle was the move to consolidate two Suffolk factories into one manufacturing unit close to the town of Bury St Edmunds. Backed by a significant capital investment this new unit was subsequently stocked with modern production equipment that meets the highest of respective standards. The unit is accredited by the Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) food-safety standard, which was written by experienced experts to reflect both the legal requirements of producers and the enhanced expectations of best practice of professional food buyers. Furthermore,

The Taste of Suffolk it is accredited by the RSPCA’s farm assurance and food labelling scheme, Freedom Foods. In the years since the acquisition, The Taste of Suffolk’s range of sausages, sliced turkey, wafer thin and sweet cure ham, roast and salt beef, bacons and gammon have contributed to consistent customer growth. Meanwhile, the business remains heavily focused on providing a quality delivery service to local, independent shops, delicatessens and schools. It also retains a longestablished relationship with the East of England Co-op, supplying its retail stores with bespoke products such as its ‘Sourced locally’ range and its Craske special recipe sausages. Sales of locally sourced products are also made to Tesco and Asda stores across the region. “I have been in this business since 1966,” Roger states, “so you can probably imagine that many of the relationships we have with our trusted

meat and infrastructure suppliers have been in place for a number of years. Our meat is predominantly sourced from across East Anglia, with our pork coming from farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, while our beef is sourced from Suffolk and the turkey from Essex. All our products then pass through our factory on Moreton Hall industrial estate, which has undergone considerable refurbishment in recent years, which has involved the installation of the latest machines, systems and controls. It is also the base of operations for our dedicated quality control team whose job it is to run multiple checks on our products at different stages before they are sent to our customers.”

Steady growth The quality of its product has also contributed to The Taste of Suffolk’s products being sourced by the company Vertas for use in schools across Suffolk.

“There is no difference in the quality of product that we supply Vertas with,” Roger says. “Much like with our retail brands we only use the best quality butcher’s style sausage, not a machined product, and this has helped us to become one of Vertas’ preferred suppliers to the schools it supplies meals to in Suffolk.” Looking ahead, Roger envisions the business continuing to build sensibly. “The idea of trying to double one’s sales overnight never really translates as hoped as it often leaves you in a situation where you struggle to cope with demand from a production perspective,” he adds. “We would probably prefer gradual, measured growth, always adding that little bit extra, be it in the form of capacity or our product range. This way we can achieve the twin aims of growing our business, without any negative impact when it comes to quality.” D 63

Purbrook Portsmouth - 200th store

Community spirit With a genuine passion for its local area, The Southern Co-operative is a successful independent regional business owned by its members



rom its humble beginnings in 1873 when a group of dockworkers in Portsmouth decided to establish a shop, The Southern Co-operative has grown organically over the years to become a business that runs community food stores and funeral homes across 11 counties in southern England. With a continuous line of unbroken ownership by local people traced back 143 years, the company’s footprint stretches from the eastern tip of Kent to the middle of Devon where more than 200 food retail stores are in operation. Like many societies, the company also has a funeral related business, which is comprised of more than 50 funeral homes, two crematoriums, a natural burial ground, masonry and florist. When previously featured in FoodChain magazine in August 2016, The Southern Co-operative was continuing with an ambitious

investment programme, with 11 food stores added in the previous financial year and approximately 100 in the previous seven. Explaining to FoodChain how this growth was achieved, The Southern Co-operative Chief Executive Mark Smith commented: “We have been growing quite ambitiously and that programme continues and we are aiming at the region of another ten to 20 stores this year, 2016. We aim to put ourselves down in areas where we are not currently represented but we feel we can put a good service in front of local people. There are some places where we have already ventured into, such as the Greater Bristol area and east Sussex, where we also see more opportunities going forward, along with parts of Devon, Kent and around the M25. The expansion is very well researched, as we always want our offering to be a good match for the local community and for what is currently there.”

The Southern Co-operative He added: “I think what we have been able to do is establish a model that is regionally focused that works for the south. Therefore it has been replicated and scaled up from within. There has been a degree of careful business management over a number of years to make sure that there is the resourcing in place to accomplish that growth. Furthermore, we have been able to fund that growth, through financial prudence and taking a longterm view on opportunities, which is part of the model.” Since August 2016, the company has added a further 18 stores, bringing its total retail estate to 212 stores as it continues to expand across the south in areas that include priority target areas inside the M25 and greater Bristol. “We reached a major milestone in 2016 when we opened our 200th retail store in Purbrook, Hampshire. This was a particular cause for celebration as the new store is close to where Southern Co-operative began more than 140 years ago,” enthuses Mark. “Overall, in 2016 we opened 22 new stores, we also opened two petrol forecourt stores at Haywards Heath, West Sussex and Wimborne, Dorset, as part of our strategy to add good quality convenience with petrol sites where they become available. Moreover, we were able to add four new stores in the Bristol area; this brings our total in this rapidly growing city to 14, all opened since 2009. We also opened our first store in London, Ealing, in July 2016, alongside further additions elsewhere inside the M25,” says Mark.

is anticipated to make savings of more than £375,000 per year. Costing more than £2 million, this project included upgrades to all stores’ main lighting, chiller cabinets, sales areas and fascia signage; all new stores are expected to be completed with LEDs too. “We began introducing LED lighting four years ago into new stores. Given the considerable improvements with the technology in terms of output, energy efficiency and equipment costs since then, we felt the timing was right in 2016 to complete the conversion of our whole retail business alongside our Lakeside office. This

brings benefits such as lower energy consumption costs, improvements to instore environment and customer experience and better external lighting, which helps our colleagues feel safe and secure. We have also kept the project local by employing regional contractors and technology suppliers where possible,” says Mark. He continues: “In 2016 we completed the installation of LED lighting across 124 food stores including lighting in our sales area, chiller cabinets and fascia signage; this means that virtually the whole of

Total Design Group (Total Design) Total Design Group (Total Design) offers retailers one stop-access to four market leading companies, that together, deliver a unique combination of products, skills and expertise in shopfitting, retail shelving, joinery and electrical installations. Total Design was chosen by Southern Co-op to be the Principal Contractor for this new concept project, having successfully delivered previous concept stores on their behalf. The project resulted in a new ‘fresh’ style convenience store at Abbotswood, which opened for business in April 2017. Total Design provided a comprehensive turnkey service, from the initial planning stages, through to creation of the designs, elevation plans and a 3D walk-through. When it came to choosing a principal contractor for this project, the Southern Co-op had more than enough evidence to prove Total Design was the ideal choice.

Profit sharing During 2016 the company achieved total sales of £394 million, which is up seven per cent on 2017, and shared £2.8 million profits with its 166,000 plus members. Other developments include food like for like increasing by 3.3 per cent, the company adding 27 new producers to its local flavours range supply base and contributing more than £1 million it its communities across the south. The Southern Co-operative also completed a roll-out of LED lighting across its entire store portfolio, which 65

our retail estate now benefits from LED lighting. We are now rolling this out in our End of Life Services business and have been exploring other energy saving technologies. For example, we have employed doors on chiller units for some years and are trialling aerofoils on open fronted chiller cabinets, which provide similar energy savings to glass doors at a lower cost with the added benefits of improving customer comfort while also reducing store heating requirements. We have also fitted movement sensors to automatically control lighting in back-of-house areas.”

Brand refresh Looking at other notable developments that have taken place over the last nine months, Mark highlights: “We have launched new Southern Co-op entity branding, which complements the national Co-operative branding that we remain proud to use in our stores and funeral homes and that is known to our customers. Our brand refresh has been about creating a more compelling story about our Society: our purpose, who we are, what we stand for and what makes us different. Our new visual identity, which supports this, gives a fresh look and feel to all of our business

Southern Co-op colleagues


communications, which in turn, helps to bring our brand story to life.” In line with this branding, the company has strived to enhance its reputation as an employer so new and existing colleagues see The Southern Co-operative as a company that offers rewarding work, good training and opportunities for career progression.

“In response to this, we launched new training and development programmes and new roles to support our business goals. An example of this was our new retail duty manager role, supported by an eight-week training programme to equip them with the skills to run a safe, legal and successful store. We trained more than 900 duty managers for these new positions across our food stores and invested in talent through our future leaders programme and Aspire programme, which is aimed at senior and middle managers with the goal of developing their management and leadership skills in a range of ways for the long-term,” explains Mark. “Other notable investments include our Right Range Store programme, which introduced new layouts and product ranges in each store that better reflect local customers’ shopping habits. Our store colleagues worked incredibly hard to make more than 5000 sets of changes, including new ways to clear end of line stock and free up warehouse space. Meanwhile, our Right Store programme is seeking to allow colleagues more time to look after customers through the best possible procedures, covering everything from stock management to customer service;

The Southern Co-operative store safety and legality and cleanliness to effective resource planning.” A proud supporter of the communities that it trades in for more than 140 years, The Southern Co-operative views itself not only as a business, but a part of every community. Because of this, the company is committed to making a positive difference to its communities through active and genuine involvement by working in partnership with organisations that share its values and goals. In 2016, The Southern Cooperative launched a refreshed new community programme, ‘Love your Neighbourhood’, which builds upon its history of supporting local groups and aims to increase the positive impact and difference that the company makes to communities and reinforce all three of its sustainability priorities: share, protect and support. “Love your Neighbourhood, our refreshed community programme, aims to create greener, safer, healthier, more inclusive neighbourhoods,” confirms Mark. “Each of our stores and funeral homes and other locations such as our Lakeside office are empowered to build their own neighbourhood network, supporting issues that matter most locally through cash donations,

volunteering, fundraising and support for local community events. In 2016 we invested or otherwise facilitated over £1 million to local communities across the south of England.”

Business leader During 2016 Mark, a member of the Business in the Community (BITC) Advisory Board for the South East, was appointed by HRH The Prince of Wales to be BITC’s Responsible Business Ambassador. Aware that responsible businesses contribute towards more resilient communities, create skilled and healthy workforces and also stimulate local economies, Mark elaborates on his

aims while in this role: “HRH annually appoints a business leader in each of the UK’s regions to represent the responsible business movement and inspire and lead other businesses in the region to take action and address key issues. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the two years beginning July 2016. My plan is to use my responsible business role to focus on engaging with young people, particularly those from more challenging backgrounds, to encourage aspiration and the achievement of personal potential, irrespective of their circumstances and help break down the barriers to work that many young people face.” Having achieved major success over the last nine months, the future looks positive for The Southern Co-operative, despite market uncertainty caused by Brexit and an evolving retail industry. Moving forward Mark anticipates more of the same from the company that cares, as he concludes: “Looking ahead, our key priorities include the implementation of our Right Store programme, the evolution of our local flavours range and a renewed focus on recruitment, induction and management development.” D

Bath Widcombe Hill store 67

Keeping it fresh W

The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) is the UK’s frozen food trade association, focused on the promotion, development and advancement of the frozen food industry 68

ith more than 320 members comprised of producers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, brokers, retailers and related associate businesses, BFFF covers the entire cold chain, from large companies to SMEs. Providing an excellent opportunity for frozen food firms and associates to gain awareness at both commercial and legislative levels, BFFF brings the food industry together while also offering a fantastic opportunity for companies to expand business connections. “BFFF has been around a long time, since 1973 in its current incarnation and since 1948 previously. We are a long-established trade association that represents the whole of the £8 billion-pound British frozen food industry, which we aim to promote and protect. With regards to promotion, we are famous for running some excellent award events; in June 2017, we celebrated our 30th annual gala dinner, which celebrates the best

John Hyman

innovation and product development across both retail and foodservice at the London Hilton, Park Lane. Other notable events are our annual luncheon, which promotes networking in the industry, and our annual conference that takes place in the Spring. Having recently moved to Birmingham, the next conference will be on 22nd February 2018 and will include a stellar line up of speakers, promising an informative and thought provoking programme covering key focuses of the industry,” says John Hyman, Chief Executive at BFFF. “We run three big events a year and are introducing our first ever People Awards; it is great that we promote the best innovations and products, but we also need to recognise the people that make up this multi-billion pound industry. This new event will run on the evening of the conference on the 22nd February 2018 so we are busy with planning and promotion. For our members seeking to vote on the best people or unsung heroes within this

British Frozen Food Federation industry, it is free for them to do so on our website, where they can pick from 11 different categories, from Factory Manager of the Year to Purchaser/Buyer of the Year and Logistics Champion.”

Benefits of frozen Once BFFF members and non-members have nominated those that they believe go above and beyond for their businesses, the short-listed nominees will be announced at BFFF’s annual luncheon event in November. Winners will then be presented with awards for their hard work and dedication at the People Awards ceremony on Thursday 22nd February 2018 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole. Categories are open to companies from both foodservice and retail sectors as well as from associate members. “Launching any new awards ceremony is challenging in terms of the whole process of promoting and launching the event. We must also make sure that it is impartially judged and encourage members to nominate so it is a bigger and better event for members going forward; this is the same for our annual conference, which is currently going seven years strong,” says John. Not only known for its highly popular events, BFFF also runs an annual health and safety seminar and is due to run a new technical seminar in February. “Alongside these seminars and events we run an ongoing marketing programme through our PR partner Pelican Communications and have done a great deal of academic research using leading universities to prove the benefits of frozen food on a rational basis. This includes nutrition, cost, quality and so on; this information is then pulled together with a market report, the second of which was launched at the House of Commons in the summer of 2016. Since joining BFFF it has blown me away how positive the foodservice sector is about frozen food. We have research that says 86 per cent of chefs understand the benefit of frozen food and that it is a natural process comparable to fresh or better in some ways. Choosing frozen can also take 21 per cent cost out of the chain, so if a pub or hotel has complicated products

such as profiteroles on the menu, these can be pre-portioned and ready to go rather than getting in skilled labour to produce them,” highlights John. “Frozen food is quick, convenient and great quality while also ensuring there is minimal waste in comparison to fresh or chilled as any unused food can go back in the freezer. Also, if it wasn’t for the frozen process, we wouldn’t have the long-term availability of vegetables such as peas,” he adds.

Premium category While the foodservice sector continues to embrace the trend of frozen food, BFFF is seeing a gradual change in the retail sector as it battles against the layout of stores that position their frozen area at the back of the store. “Because of this layout, the customer may have a full basket or may not be in the right frame of mind to look out for different frozen food products, however, we are seeing some trials that show encouraging changes in this area. In the short time though, we have seen a 20 per cent over-trade in frozen food online, which also continues to grow eight per cent year-on-year. Shopping online levels the playing field for frozen as consumers

spot a broader assortment of products and are more likely to try new things,” says John. “In line with this trend, we are pointing out to our members that there are opportunities in the premium market as there isn’t yet premium products in every category and this is an area that frozen should be capitalising on. This is particularly true in the healthier range of products, with sweet potato up 120 per cent year-on-year and frozen fruit rising in demand, with sales up 35 per cent YOY, as it is used in smoothies and breakfast cereals daily.” Looking ahead, BFFF will continue to work alongside its members and the government in line with market trends and issues such as Brexit, as John notes: “Brexit is interesting as we are working with members and the government on two key areas: the opportunity to increase exports as 47 per cent of our members export, and also the availability of labour as ten per cent to 60 per cent of employees are from Europe. The government is pleased to hear that 90 per cent of our members think they can export more post Brexit, however, members are concerned about the obvious challenge of investing in automation to boost efficiency against the challenge of labour. We have made this point clear to the government and as negotiations unfold we will work in a balanced way with regards to opportunities and issues.” In terms of BFFF itself, John is keen for the association to continue growing and improving over the coming years. “We would like to keep our traditional strengths when it comes to events and technical health and safety while also building on our conference and People Awards events. It is also important for us to get more frozen industry engagement and promote long-term growth through trying to co-ordinate the best growth ideas and best practices at our conferences,” he concludes. D For more information about how to join BFFF please visit If you’d like more information on the BFFF People Awards please visit us on twitter @BFFPeopleAward or at 69


The business of food and drink

Schofield Publishing Ltd

10 Cringleford Business Centre Intwood Road l Cringleford l Norwich l NR4 6AU T: +44 (0)1603 274130 Editor Libbie Hammond

Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove Sales Rob Wagner