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FoodChain Issue 128


AUG 2017

The business of food and drink


potential The quality of its menu options really sets Max Burgers apart from the competition

Industry News l

Superfood surge The increasing consumer demand for healthy ingredients and ‘superfoods’

The friendly face at the heart of Mrs Crimble’s new look

Euro-cool Leonardo Hotels chooses location in Edinburgh l


Contemporary packaging attracts consumers to Patak’s Paste Pots

Heart of glass How glass packaging can be used to really make your products stand out

FoodChain ISSUE 128 L AUG 2017


Editor’s Welcome


potential The quality of its menu options really sets Max Burgers apart from the competition

Industry News LThe

friendly face at the heart of Mrs Crimble’s new look

Superfood surge The increasing consumer demand for healthy ingredients and ‘superfoods’

LEuro-cool Leonardo Hotels chooses location in Edinburgh LContemporary

packaging attracts consumers to Patak’s Paste Pots

Heart of glass How glass packaging can be used to really make your products stand out

Chairman Andrew Schofield Managing Director Joe Woolsgrove

Brushing up

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 Wendy Russell Office Manager Advertising Administrator Tracy Chynoweth


love being able to introduce a bit of technology that I wasn’t aware existed, and I have to say in this issue it’s even more enjoyable given that the equipment is a brush for cows, which for some reason I find really entertaining. However

unlikely it sounds; this clever bit of kit was created because cows enjoy a good scratch and farmers wanted to introduce a safe way for them to be able to do so. It’s called a Cow Satisfaction Brush and adopters of the brush have reported an increase in each individual cow’s milk yield of up to 3.5 per cent! I don’t think they’ve created a version for magazine editor’s yet but I’m keeping my eyes peeled… The Dairy article, written by our assistant editor Will Daynes, also discusses other innovative new approaches in the industry. It’s on page 4 if you’d like more details.

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Contents 4





Features Dairy No yielding to a challenge


The dairy industry has long been at the heart of the UK’s agricultural sector. Will Daynes takes a look at the dairy sector, and highlights some novel and innovative ways that dairy farmers are increasing yields and finding new markets

Glass packaging Heart of glass


Thanks to a growing demographic of consumers who are in search of helathier options, EHL Ingredients has seen an increase in sales of the most popular ‘superfood’ products, including chia seeds, ginger, almonds, lentils and turmeric


As a packaging material glass may have had the longest history, but it’s also at the forefront of new trends and technological advances that are helping brands to stand out. Charlotte Taylor gives some examples

Sales and marketing Waste not, want not


Paul Black makes some recommendations about the best areas of sales and marketing to invest in, so that your food and drink company can remain profitable and competitive, even in times of great uncertainty



Taste Test


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

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

16 2

Superfoods Superfood surge

22 26

46 54

32 Profiles

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

First Grade International Ltd


Sedalcol (UK)


Eisberg Group


Ripe Now


Chopstix Group


Finn Spring Oy


Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd


The Co-op


Welsh Hills Bakery


Kendal Nutricare


Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Ltd 34

Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF)

Max Burgers


Longshot Country Inns


London Stock Exchange Group


Vega Salmon


Natural Kitchen


The Taste of Suffolk


Mleczko Delicatesy Ltd


The Southern Co-operative


Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group


British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) 102





No yielding to a


The dairy industry has long been at the heart of the UK’s agricultural sector. Having encountered a sustained period of economic difficulty, dairy farmers and companies have had to embrace a new wave of ideas in order to maintain profitability. By Will Daynes 4


cross the length and breadth of the UK, it is estimated that one will find a total of approximately 1.9 million dairy cows living on its 13,355 dairy farms. When you put those numbers into perspective, it is little wonder that dairy farming is the single largest agricultural market in the UK, with the industry valued at close to ÂŁ4 billion. The average herd size, as of June 2015, stood at 142 animals, each of which produces a yield of around 7944 litres

of milk. In total, annual milk production for the year 2015/16 totalled 14.83 billion litres. Taken in their own right, these numbers make for incredible reading, but the real picture is less rosy. The UK’s dairy industry has been going through a period of turmoil for a number of years now as it fights battles on several fronts. In the year 2000, the number of dairy farmers was estimated to be 25,000. By December 2014, that number had fallen below 10,000 in England and Wales for


the first time, and in July 2015 it stood at 9724. The latter figure came at a time when the average farm-gate price for milk was calculated at 23.66 pence per litre, the lowest price in five years. While the causes of this collapse in price are multiple, the largest factors at play have been the milk price wars between the nation’s leading supermarkets, the lifting of European Union quotas, an increase in European milk production and a collapse in demand from China for dairy products.

As a result of this combination of negative factors, dairy farmers have had to rethink their approach if they are to continue to make profitable returns from their operations. One immediate by-product of today’s climate has been the increase in herd sizes. Whereas the average herd size for a dairy farm in the 1970s was no more than 30 cows, in 2015 that figure stood at 133. In the meantime, farmers have been turning to innovative methods of increasing their milk yields, while others have looked to embrace alternative varieties of the white stuff. It has been proven in recent decades that the wellbeing of an animal plays an important role in guaranteeing the quality of its return. Much like the adoption of free range farming techniques has proven to result in lower costs for farmers in return for a higher quality of product sold at a premium price, the satisfaction and good health of cows has been shown to correlate with increased milk yields. From its factory in Newcastle upon Tyne, Brushtec is one of a number of companies to have developed an innovative, and surprising, product that has produced positive results for dairy farmers. One of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial brushware, providing teat cleaning brushes for automated milking machines, Brushtec is well aware of

how grooming is a part of a dairy cow’s natural behavior. On a traditional farm cows, like most animals, will look to scratch themselves against any object they can find, including fence posts and farm buildings, which can suffer damage. To avoid unnecessary harm to either the cow or the aforementioned infrastructure, farms approached Brushtec with the idea of creating a purpose-built brush that cows could utilise in a safe manner.

Cow brush Jumping at the chance to service this need, and with a library of brushes to choose from, Brushtec was able to adapt one of its existing models to create the Cow Satisfaction Brush. A simple and affordable product, it is designed to aid cows in scratching hardto-reach areas of their body, keeping them happy and healthy. Adopters of the brush have reported an increase in each individual’s cow milk yield of up to 3.5 per cent. As a result, demand has increased and Brushtec is currently in the prototype phase of introducing a rotating machine model to its arsenal. Sometimes it is the little touches that make all the difference and in the case of dairy farmers this can be as simple as ensuring a regular feeding and milking schedule is maintained. The Cow Satisfaction Brush, meanwhile, is a perfect example of an affordable and 5


The Cow Satisfaction Brush, meanwhile, is a perfect example of an affordable and effective solution that can help farmers increase their milk yield, without having to commit to the expense of a major upheaval of their operations


Dairy effective solution that can help farmers increase their milk yield, without having to commit to the expense of a major upheaval of their operations.

Natural protein While the collapse in milk prices has undoubtedly resulted in great hardships for many a dairy farm, in some instances this chain of events has opened the door for others to branch out into alternative dairy products, often to great effect. To provide an example of the opportunities that still exist within the industry, while standard milk volumes fell 1.9 per cent in 2016, organic milk increased by 4.4 per cent. Driven, in part, by increased awareness of health issues and a demand for more natural products that are free from additives, another beneficiary has been the A2 milk market. Licensed and marketed by The a2 Milk Company, and sold predominantly in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, China and the UK, a2 Milk contains only the A2 type of protein, rather than the more common A1 protein found in regular milk. “A2 is the natural protein found in all milk producing mammals, including humans, which makes the species naturally predisposed to consume it,” explains Neale Sadler, owner of Bridge Farm in Shropshire. “As far as we are aware, cows are the only animal known to produce the A1 protein and while most people have evolved to process this protein, there is a significant percentage of the population who still cannot, leading to issues digesting dairy which are often blamed on lactose intolerance. By drinking milk which is free from the A1 protein, people can find themselves able to embrace an a2 Milk alternative.” A third-generation dairy farmer, Neale made the decision in 2012 to convert to a2 Milk, having personally felt the benefits of the milk, which he credits with the clearing up of the eczema that he had previously suffered from. DNA testing of his existing herd confirmed 43 per cent to be A2 cows and today Neale has a total of 75 pedigree black and white Holstein cows which produce milk containing only this protein. Every

new animal is bred specifically on his farm, guaranteeing that every calf born is an A2 calf. “In addition to the health benefits of a2 Milk, there is also a significant financial boost that a2 Milk provides. The farm receives a bonus of 2.5 pence per litre on all milk that is sold as A2, with a minimum of 30 pence per litre guaranteed for all milk sold into the fresh market” Neale says. “As positive word of mouth about the properties of a2 Milk increases, I believe there is room for exponential growth in sales of

the product, which will be a positive for both farmers and consumers.”

Freedom milking Neale has a track record for taking bold, innovative steps when it comes to his farm. As far back as 2006 he was the first farmer in the county to introduce a robotic milking system. Initially this was looked upon with skepticism, but as we now know these systems have become a common sight on dairy farms in 2017. Neale’s single system robot has the ability to milk around 75 cows in one cycle, with the cows choosing when to be milked. “This method is sometimes referred to as freedom milking,” describes Neale, “in that the cows run their own lives, deciding when to visit the robotic system and this has been shown to allow cows to reach their maximum potential. A cow that is freshly calved may milk itself up to five times a day and allowing it to do so at regular intervals is much less stressful for the animal. This has been reflected in the increase in milk yield that we have seen, with further increases expected as our young herd matures.” The examples detailed here highlight the efforts and lengths businesses and farms will go to in order to maintain their livelihoods, even in the face of challenging circumstances. Whether it be through the use of innovative products and systems to increase milk yields, or the adoption of alternative dairy products with greater cost returns these farmers are doing their best to prove there is still life in this beloved industry yet. D 7

Heart of

glass Charlotte Taylor takes a look at the trends in glass packaging and how it can be used to make your product stand out from the crowd



ifferentiating your brand from your competitors has never been more important. Scan the average supermarket shelf and there’s an unprecedented range of different products all vying for the consumer’s attention. Clearly the way products are packaged is a crucial part of the marketing mix – and even though it’s been around for thousands of years, glass is still one of the best materials to choose when it comes to making your brand stand out on the shelf. Glass is an extremely versatile material, and the bottles and jars that really catch the eye are the bespoke and embossed shapes that look bold and appealing. Nine out of every ten bespoke designs we produce for our customers include unique embossing – names, slogans, logos or patterns embossed on the glass to enhance its appeal and make the container truly unique. And for those producers who can’t afford a completely

bespoke design, there are some glass manufacturers out there (Beatson Clark included) who offer the flexibility of a standard bottle with custom embossing added, which saves on the cost of having totally new finish moulds made. Advances in technology have revolutionised what designers can now achieve with embossing, and using the latest sculpting software means that the results are better defined and easier to manufacture. Unlike traditional embossing, sculptured embossing can be achieved on multiple levels, creating intricate, lifelike detail and depth. This technology has been used to achieve textured effects such as wood grain and fruit peel, and it can also enhance the definition of scripted text and brand icons. Beatson Clark has produced many bespoke embossed designs for customers, including a bottle featuring an idyllic country scene for STORY

Glass packaging Drinks and two embossed, lightweighted square jars for The English Provender Company, whose brands include the popular Very Lazy range of cooking ingredients.

Apothecary style Commissioning a unique, embossed bottle or jar is one way for your brand to stand out from the crowd. Another way is taking an existing container and finding a new and innovative use for it. Sometimes the visual disconnect between the type of container and the product inside can be enough to catch a consumer’s eye. Craft beer pioneers BrewDog have a reputation for breaking the rules, and this year they have done the same with their choice of packaging. Backed by BrewDog, Scottish Distillery LoneWolf has produced a range of craft spirits, and its V3 prototype gin is sold in a Beatson Clark bottle originally intended for pharmaceutical products. It is a growing trend that is hitting the craft distilling market and is expected to continue as brands look for a costeffective way to distinguish their product from the competition. The apothecary style works perfectly with ‘boutique’ or ‘artisan’ spirits and can be achieved simply and effectively with an off-theshelf medicine bottle. LoneWolf V3 comes in a standard white flint 500ml Sloping Shoulder Flat bottle. Originally designed for medicines, the bottle has elegant lines and an unusual

shape which help to emphasise the revolutionary nature of LoneWolf’s boundary-pushing product. It’s not the first time a customer has found a novel use for one of our standard bottles and jars: last year London Rd Jam Jar Cocktails started selling its range of ready-to-serve premium cocktails in our 300ml glass food jar. Other examples we’ve seen include a beer bottle used for tomato passata and candles and face creams packaged in food jars. The possibilities really are endless! This innovative and creative approach is really taking off in the food and drink sector, and it’s proving a convenient way for brands to find a new look for their product without going to the expense of commissioning a new design. There seems no end in sight to innovation and creativity. As a packaging material glass may have the longest history, but it’s also at the forefront of new trends and technological advances which are helping brands to stand out.

Case study: Henderson’s Relish Henderson’s Relish – known locally as Hendo’s – has been made in Sheffield since 1885, and the family-owned

firm teamed up with Rotherham-based Beatson Clark to update the product’s packaging. Victorian entrepreneur Henry Henderson used to encourage his customers to recycle their bottles by bringing them back to be refilled. The new bottle designed by Beatson Clark continues this environmentally friendly theme as it contains 30 per cent recycled material, with up to ten per cent collected locally and processed in Beatson Clark’s onsite recycling plant. The bottle has ‘Henderson’s Relish’ embossed above its signature label and ‘Henderson’s Sheffield’ on the base, a redesign that honours the memory of historic Henderson’s bottles from the early years of the last century. The embossing was created using Beatson Clark’s state-of-the-art sculpting software. This allows the company to create complex designs and replicate them perfectly in the finish moulds, which results in a high-quality, well defined and consistent embossing. “We are always very pleased to work with local businesses, and to design and manufacture a bespoke bottle for such a well known local brand as Henderson’s was a real pleasure,” said Chris Palmer, Business Development Manager at Beatson Clark in Rotherham. “This is a great example of closed loop manufacturing because we recycle local domestic waste at our on-site recycling plant and re-use the glass to make new bottles and jars.” Henderson’s Relish is still being blended to the original secret recipe of Henry Henderson. The recipe remains a secret only known to three family members. D Charlotte Taylor is Marketing Manager at Beatson Clark. Beatson Clark is one of the UK’s oldest businesses: it has been making glass bottles and jars on the same site in Rotherham since 1751. Today it specialises in providing glass packaging solutions for niche brands in the food, drink and pharmaceutical markets worldwide. 9



According to EHL Ingredients, the last 12 months have seen an increase in demand for healthy ingredients and ‘superfoods’



hile there is no official definition of what is deemed a ‘superfood’, the products that have achieved this title are generally those rich in antioxidants (such as betacarotene, vitamins A, C, E, flavanoids and selenium) and omega-3 fatty acids. Perfect examples are chia seeds, which are recommended as a strong source of Omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for eye and heart health, and ginger, which is promoted as an effective antiinflammatory. These so-called ‘superfoods’ are growing in popularity as healthy lifestyle choices, including diet, are being highlighted as areas that could reduce

the risk of chronic diseases - a 2016 report by PwC showed that healthy eating is increasingly on consumers’ agendas, and is particularly important to millennials (18-34 year olds), of which almost half had changed their diet to include healthier options. This rise in popularity can be attributed to both the high nutritional value of these particular foods and the recent positive media coverage of these ingredients. Thanks to a growing demographic of consumers who are in search of healthier options, EHL Ingredients, the leading importer, blender and packer of food ingredients has seen an increase in sales of the most popular ‘superfood’ products, including chia seeds, which

Superfoods healthier lifestyles, and are naturally looking to make changes to their diets to reap the health benefits associated with certain ingredients.

have seen a 20 per cent popularity surge, ginger (18 per cent), almonds (15 per cent) and lentils (20 per cent).

Rise in demand To keep up with this new surge in consumer demand, food manufacturers and wholesalers are stocking up on these highly sought-after ingredients to deliver meals and products that are more in line with changing tastes. Christine Peers, sales director at EHL Ingredients, says: “The health benefits of these ingredients and the support of the media have led to a prominent surge in their popularity among the wholesalers and manufacturers we work with. People are seeking ways to live

“Another benefit adding to the appeal of these ingredients is their versatility. For example, chia seeds are great as an easy breakfast addition, especially when added to porridge and yoghurt, and lentils, nuts and ginger are fantastic in soups and curries. We expect to see continued upward trends in sales and demand for products like these as the general public becomes more and more discerning when it comes to choosing healthy ingredients.” Earlier in 2017 EHL also reported a ten per cent rise in demand for its turmeric products in the last 12 months – recently turmeric has been widely recognised as being beneficial to health in more ways than one, hence

its newfound popularity and increase in sales, according to experts at EHL. Turmeric is a perennial herbaceous plant of the ginger family and has long been popular in traditional Asian medicine as well as in cookery. It is cultivated in the tropics and the root is used in cooking. It is boiled, sun-dried and then ground into a powder. It an important ingredient in curry powder and is frequently used to add both flavour and colour to many meat and vegetarian dishes. Tumeric is ranked among those natural products that have notable health benefits, and is used in everything from medicines to cosmetics and even hot drinks. Managing Director of EHL, Tasneem Backhouse, adds: “People’s growing desire to live healthier, holistic lifestyles has caused sales of turmeric to soar. The spice is absolutely bursting with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and is very low in sodium and cholesterol. Its therapeutic properties have led to it becoming our bestselling spice. Turmeric is also used within the cosmetics industry to produce herbal hair and beauty products as it possesses benefits for the skin and hair. A lot of interest and sales is also coming from independent cafes and bistros because the trend for its use in lattes has grown dramatically over recent months.” D EHL Ingredients is an importer, blender and packer of food ingredients from around the world. From herbs and spices, to beans and pulses and dried fruit, it supplies over 300 food ingredients to all areas of the food industry, and boasts a 200-strong organic range as well as over 70 ingredient blends. EHL Ingredients has been working towards its BRC accreditation and was awarded a grade A certification for the third year running following a rigorous audit process. This gives EHL’s customers the reassurance of the company’s quality and safety management processes and opens up new growth opportunities for the business. 11

IndustryNews New look

Bacon from the sea

Mrs Crimble’s, the pioneering gluten-free brand owned by Wessanen UK, has unveiled a striking and contemporary brand identity that is set to be rolled out across its entire product range, beginning with its category-leading Choc Macaroons. The new look and feel, created by design agency Big Fish, colourfully and memorably brings the long-established Mrs Crimble’s brand to life in the form of a wooden spoon character, evocative of the brand’s delicious baked treats that are made, not manufactured. The narrative of Mrs Crimble’s family and friends will be told through a dedicated social and digital campaign set to run throughout the rest of 2017, which will look to garner brand fame and an enhanced online following of fans. A gradual packaging roll-out is planned across the brand’s range with a host of new designs. Rebecca Vercoe, Mrs Crimble’s brand controller at Wessanen UK, comments: “Mrs Crimble’s believes everyone should be able to have their cake and eat it. She doesn’t hold back on enjoyment, and her oven baked macaroons, cakes, biscuits and nibbles are there for all to enjoy. Mrs Crimble’s new brand image taps right into her mission: to make joyfully, gloriously and inclusive gluten-free treats.”

I Sea Pasta is loved by many, including Michelin star chefs and consumers alike, and now Seamore is expanding its love for seaweed to introduce I Sea Bacon. Seaweed is becoming a rising star, offering a range of nutrients, low carbs, low calories and low saturates, just as shoppers start to strive for cleaner eating habits. Made from 100% wild and organic seaweed, I Sea Bacon boasts a crunchy, salty and smoky flavour that rivals bacon, but with the added benefits of being vegan friendly and highly sustainable. I Sea Bacon is perfect for any diet requirements and makes a great addition to a salad, pasta or hamburger, and can be seen as the ultimate way to upgrade some muchloved classics.

Rebecca adds: “The new face of Mrs Crimble’s will bring greater interest and visibility to the free-from aisle with much more fixture standout, and will show the world that gluten-free doesn’t have to mean taste-free.”

Training tools Ufi has awarded £90,000 to the Grimsby Institute Group’s Flavours of Reality project following its call for projects that support workforce skills development in UK manufacturing. Grimsby Institute is one of England’s largest providers of further and higher education and will use this funding to pilot novel use of Microsoft HoloLens technology to create a ‘mixed reality’ training environment for food safety training. Working with key industry partners to combine virtual and augmented reality with the real experience of a production line, will enable learners to ‘test and learn’ a wide range of skills within a safe environment. Grimsby Institute’s partners in the project are Icelandic Seachill, a leading supplier of chilled fish to retail and commercial markets, and Seafish, an industry body working to raise standards across the UK seafood industry. Collectively, they will be able to test,


evaluate and adapt the product through a series of trials and roll it out more widely. Commenting on the partnership, Ufi Chief Executive Rebecca Garrod-Waters said: “There is a clear need in the food and drink manufacturing sector to provide up to date, motivational training in ways that meets the needs of learners and of

employers. This includes training for new entrants and enhancing the skills levels and increase vocational competences of existing staff. We believe that Grimsby Institute’s proposed use of mixed reality technologies will facilitate training for all levels within the industry.”

IndustryNews First for Edinburgh Euro-cool specialists Leonardo Hotels has chosen Edinburgh as the location for its first property opening in Scotland. The Berlin-based company, one of Europe’s fastest growing hotel groups, has invested more than €7m in the complete refurbishment of the former Premier Inn in Edinburgh’s Haymarket district. Guests can look forward to bedrooms with iconic panorama images of the Edinburgh skyline, bathrooms with a giant mural of sheep as well as stylish Scottishthemed furnishings, while the lobby and bar/restaurant areas offer sophisticated and boutique-style glamour. The design of the new hotel – which offers four-star superior accommodation across its 282 renovated bedrooms - was created by acclaimed interior designer Andreas Neudahm and continues the Leonardo Hotels’ philosophy of developing non-standardised hotels that have their

Ooh, cheeky! own distinct regional character. Operations Manager Lucy Basnett said the decision to create the hotel under the premium Leonardo Royal brand underlines the group’s positioning of Edinburgh as a prime new location in its continued European expansion plans. She said: “Our opening brings a new destination in stylish hotel living to Edinburgh. While we are a chain hotel, we are as far removed from a chain hotel as possible. Each hotel is designed to be individual, like our guests, and to reflect the surrounding area, using special local touches and features such as a breakfast range distinct to the region. So, if you are staying at a Leonardo Hotel in Edinburgh, you will know for sure that you are in Edinburgh. We are very excited to be Edinburgh’s newest hotel and we are confident that our future guests will not be disappointed.”

Tasteful design A new range of spice Paste Pots by Patak’s has launched into Morrison’s with contemporary packaging design by Hornall Anderson. Patak’s wanted to communicate the benefits of its single use Paste Pots range to an audience looking for greater involvement from cooking, or who wanted to reduce the time required to produce guaranteed delicious and authentic curries. The range currently includes Madras, Tikka Masala and Korma. The Patak’s brand has always been seen as a leader in the category, but to ensure Patak’s Paste Pots stood out on shelf and communicated the benefits, it needed to redefine its sub-brand look. A sensory experience is created on front of pack with the use of the graphic illustrations, showing an emerging trend

within food packaging, which ignores traditional food photography. Colours, shapes and graphics make packaging feel modern, while the team at Hornall Anderson took inspiration from the colours at holy festivals in India, selecting a vibrant and foodie colour palette. A paisley pattern adds interest.

Start-up company Cheeky Boy Sauces has reached the semi-finals of the nationwide Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur competition, beating over 200 competitors to secure its place against eight other runners-up. The Berlin49: German Hot Sauce has also been shortlisted in the best Savoury Preserve category in the Great British Food Awards 2017.

The Cheeky Boy Sauces range of delicious, healthy, all-natural sauces with a kick, was created to liven up any meal. Each distinctive sauce is packed with personality and is made using a unique recipe using only fresh and authentic ingredients. The flavours are inspired from founder Kaye Foong’s far-ranging travel adventures around Europe, Central Asia and the Far and Middle East. All Cheeky Boy Sauces are natural, free from artificial flavours and colours and bursting with vegetables and fresh ingredients. Two of the current sauces are also meat free, dairy free and gluten free 13

Waste not, want not

I Paul Black, CEO of sales-i

Paul Black discusses making the most of your food and drink company’s budget 14

t sometimes feels like the food and drink industry is locked in perpetual crisis. Intensifying global competition, price wars, and the lingering effects of the 2008 global financial crisis have led to a status quo defined by uncertainty. Consequently, finding and retaining new customers remains a persistent challenge for many companies across the supply chain. To its credit, the industry is quite self-aware: according to sales-i’s new report, entitled The food and drink industry in 2017 and beyond, 33 per cent of companies consider the economic downturn to be a barrier to their overall success, and nearly half (48 per cent) find securing customers both old and new to be a major difficulty. Despite this, food and drink companies maintain a sense of optimism. Some 37 per cent believe success and growth can be attained through expanded access to global markets, and 28 per cent see opportunities for improvement in advertising, sales, and marketing campaigns.

But while the future success of the industry will, to some extent, depend on its ability to deliver better campaigns and take advantage of existing markets, the question of how sales and marketing teams are spending their budgets remains pervasive. In large organisations, it can be quite difficult for business leaders to gain comprehensive visibility into spend – and for an area that often comprises up to ten per cent of a company’s annual budget, this is an obvious concern. If you’re one of these business leaders, you might well be wondering where they should and shouldn’t spend their budgets. Here are three ways for sales and marketing teams to easily waste money – and three examples of how they can spend it correctly.

Discounting Discounting is a tactic that’s successful in the short-term, but can have nasty long-term effects. Its appeal is obvious: where a customer might have trouble distinguishing between your products

Sales and marketing and those of your nearest competitors, lowering your price seems like an easy way to stand out. But when you get into the habit of undercutting your business rivals, you sacrifice potential long-term relationships on the altar of quick wins. Commodifying your products inevitably means that you become a discount brand – lowering your reputation and forcing you to edge closer to the point where you simply cannot lower prices any further without going bust. In any case, the more you discount, the less you profit. It’s simple business economics.

Outdated technology Letting old and outdated systems continue chugging along may seem like the cost-effective option – and certainly, it’s one that appeals to those in your team who may be reluctant to embrace new technology and ways of working. Over the long-term, however, this approach can be highly disadvantageous. Many popular ‘out of the box’ devices and applications are rendered obsolete within a year or two. Some will even be discontinued entirely within a few years – meaning they no longer qualify for support or maintenance. Using newer tools, powered by automation, means you can eliminate the burden of frustrating, repetitive tasks, and focus on those activities more significant to your food and drink business’ needs. Time is money – don’t waste it.

Cold calling Cold calling is a sales technique with a long history. That this long history is mostly highly underwhelming is something that escapes the notice of most sales people. Having a long list of prospects is great, but not all of them will be interested, and if they haven’t been correctly segmented and assessed for relevancy, contacting every one of them will be a time-intensive, customer-annoying and unprofitable task. Sharpshooting is generally more accurate than firing from the hip. Don’t call anyone unless you’ve done your research and are assured that they will

be receptive. Calling ten customers who you can reasonably expect to be interested is always better than calling a thousand at random.

Now for the things you should be investing in: Market research Spending money on market research costs some money upfront, but if you do it well enough you won’t have to invest too much over the long term. If you’re on a tight budget, you could start by doing something as simple as promising your existing customers a prize or reward in exchange for offering honest, detailed feedback on your business. You could also produce content geared around certain key market issues and see whether your target audience responds to it: an eBook or blog post, if successful, can often be a jumping-off point for better, more profitable things. Additionally, make sure to read industry-relevant magazines and websites to tune into the conversations that are happening in the world of food and drink. But, if you can afford to make a more substantial investment in market research, it’s worth doing so. The more relevant information your sales and marketing team has at its disposal, the better equipped they’ll be to address your customers’ pain points.

Customer retention It costs at least five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. Time spent chasing irrelevant leads and dead ends is time that could be spent getting back in touch with wavering long-term clients who feel unvalued and unloved. According to our research, a quarter of salespeople struggle to upsell to their customers, and it’s not surprising: without care and attention, churn is inevitable. E-commerce companies and international retailers are always encroaching on the territory of smaller

organisations. If you’re in a specific niche – fresh produce, alcoholic drinks, canned goods – you can bet that a large organisation is just waiting for an opportunity to hoover up your best customers. To improve customer retention, you must invest in customer-facing technology. Our report shows that some 65 per cent of food and drink companies are now using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI) systems, and report significant success in using it to translate customer data into actionable insights to steer sales and marketing campaigns. Learn customer behaviour, and adapt your offering to their specific requirements. If your profits are ailing, remember: retention is the best medicine.

Brand awareness Think about what your company is offering its customers. Not just its products – though they’re certainly part of it. What is it offering? Customers care more about brands that offer expertise and advice. A marketing team that can produce useful content for a target audience is worth its weight in gold to your sales team. Blogs, newsletters, whitepapers: they can all help address consumer queries and pain points without overtly selling your product. Customers who learn of your business through these materials are also often more inclined to be interested in things like value-add services, loyalty schemes, and unique product bundles; after all, they’re investing in your company, not just its products. The old maxim that you have to spend money to make money is true, but it omits a crucial caveat – that this money must be spent wisely. Allocating funds where they’re not needed is unprofitable and unhelpful. Invest in the right areas, though, and your food and drink company will remain profitable and competitive, even in times of great uncertainty. D

sales-i sales performance software allows sales professionals to clearly identify and target high-quality sales opportunities within their current customer base. Equipped with customer buying behaviour alerts, salespeople can make insightful, personalised, quick business decisions, realising repeat sales, reduced customer attrition and maximised profit margins. 15


Hey blueberry Anyone looking for a taste of summer in glass should head towards the wine aisle and pick up a bottle of Lambrini Hey Blueberry. Best enjoyed in wine glass or flute, Lambrini Hey Blueberry has a fresh berry scent and sweet juicy blueberry tones complemented with subtle pear. With a much lower

ABV than regular wine (five per cent) and 75 calories per 125ml, it is also a lighter option.

The tester of this found it a very sweet treat! “I do love a sweet pear perry, much to the dismay of my more sophisticated colleagues,” she

said. “So, I was the ideal tester for this, and I found it very sweet and fruity, and best drunk ice cold. For the hot weather we’ve been having I mixed it with some soda water and it really was delicious. It’s reinvigorated my old love for Lambrini!”

Food for the soul The Soul Food Collective is joining the snacking range with fair-trade chocolate coated fruit and seeds. The products go through the same freeze drying process as astronauts for food in space as it keeps all the nutrients. As a result of this approach, the different flavours are very healthy – the range consists of six different flavours: Strawberries coated in Dark & Berry Chocolate, Raspberries coated in Dark Chocolate, Amarena Cherries coated in Dark Chocolate, Mixed Berries coated in Dark, Milk and White chocolate, Soya Beans coated in Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Seeds coated in Dark Chocolate. The soya beans and pumpkin seeds go through a dry roasting process

which makes them 40 per cent less fat than original roasting processes.

“These were all so delicious I couldn’t stop eating them!” said one tester. “In the end, I had to hide them in my drawer. The cherries and strawberries were lovely big fruit with a thick chocolate coating, and the texture was interesting as some were chewy and some were crispy. The soya beans and pumpkin seeds had a sweet/savoury flavour that was entirely moreish – reminiscent of chocolate peanuts, only much healthier. I would buy these without hesitation, and not only for myself but for gifts too, such was the quality. I also love the Berry red chocolate in the strawberry variety – so unusual and so good to eat!”

time to make meals from scratch, but still want to give the best taste, nutrition and quality.

spaghetti hoops and she was very impressed! The portion was generous but she finished it all, and found the meatballs to be tender and the sauce to be rich and tomato-y. She was also a fan of the packaging. Arthur also loved his Kiddylicious product – he enthusiastically finished the entire pouch and enjoyed both the taste and the texture, and his parents were pleased with the healthy pedigree of the product too.

Delicious for kids Kiddylicious has introduced its Little Bistro range - specifically designed for little ones from weaning to three years, that will support a child’s future health and development – amazingly no other baby food brand has considered future development needs from the food they eat in their early years. Key aspects of the range that support children’s developmental health include bigger chunks to encourage speech, no spouts to encourage speech and protect teeth, low acidity to prevent dental erosion and enrichment to support muscle and brain development. The range is cooked using a highly innovative process that cooks all the meat and vegetables as if it was a casserole, meaning it tastes like food that is cooked at home. Little Bistro is perfect for busy parents who don’t always have


We had two little testers for the Kiddylicious range – 18-month-old Jessie Batram returned to give her opinion on the range for older children, while four-month-old Arthur Woolsgrove joined the team for the first time, and he tried the Sweet Potato and Coconut option. Jessie tried the Mini Meatballs with


Going googly New children’s snack brand Googly Fruit has announced its first bricks and mortar listing, with a Superdrug launch this summer. The brand, currently available in Ocado, looks to put the ‘fun back into snacking’ for children by providing a range of products that are not only healthy and tasty, but place fun and learning at the centre of its brand ethos. There are three distinct product groups. Googly Fruit Crunchy Puffs offer an alternative to crisps, in the form of air puffed bites. Googly Fruit Made Crunchy are made from 100 per cent fruit, which has been freeze-dried to turn it into delicious crispy fruit bites. Googly Fruit Squeezy Pouches, like the other products in the range, are free from added flavourings and preservatives. They contain one of a child’s five a day, and include both fruit and veg in super handy and (almost) spill free pouches, ideal for on-the-go.


– Tilly Woolsgrove (aged 2 She enjoyed all the different flavours and textures of the range, and the colourful and fun packaging was also a hit with our little tester – she adored the Carl Carrot character, and his googly eyes! So, they got the thumbs up from the younger audience, and then the adults got involved too. They found the Crunchy Puffs were very tasty and a great portion size – easily enough for a grown-up. The Fruit Made Crunchy was unusual but had great flavour and was an interesting alternative to crisps. Definitely a hit range for the team.

We welcomed another new tester to the squad for the Googly Fruit

Quarks and rec nutrii has taken another step towards giving quark (the creamy dairy product similar to a thick Greek yoghurt) a facelift with its first supermarket launch into Sainsburys. nutrii’s new range of quark snack pots looks to showcase the outstanding nutritional profile of quark, with 20g of high quality protein in each tub, low fat and sugar levels and a big helping of healthy gut bacteria. The company’s founders have also worked hard to ensure they’ve given their snack pots a flavour and creaminess deserving of quark’s exceptional nutritional credentials. By using milk from only nonintensive Dorset farms, which uphold strict environmental policies, nutrii has ensured its quark has a rich creamy texture and there’s not a single artificial colour, flavour or preservative in sight. Three flavours, Raspberry, Mango & Passionfruit and Plain, ensure there’s

something to please everyone’s taste and give quark an extra versatility.

The nutrii pots were enthusiastically trialled by the team and they did not disappoint. Not only were they a more nutritionally valuable replacement for a traditional yogurt, but they were also very versatile – they can be eaten straight out of the pot but also spread on crackers, added to smoothies or even used as a sauce base. “These are also great for Slimming World diets as Quark is used a lot in their recipes – I loved the creaminess of the plain nutrii in other dishes, and the fruity ones were great for breakfast or a snack as the higher protein keeps me full for longer,” added one tester.

An egg-cellent replacement Those allergic to eggs or are Vegans no longer have to miss out on egg, as leading ‘free from’ brand, Orgran, has launched ORGRAN Vegan Easy Egg, which lets customers with restricted diets experience scrambled eggs, quiche, frittata and omelette recipes. A simple to use, vegetable based egg-free alternative, Vegan Easy Egg is cholesterol free, low in fat and can even be used to make egg free mayonnaise. The product is also dairy free, egg free, gluten free, GMO Free, contains no cholesterol, is kosher, is MSG free, nut free, soy free, vegan, wheat free and yeast free.

We have a vegan tester on team, and she took on the role of trying the Easy Egg for FoodChain. “I prepared the mixture according to the instructions and it reminded me of pancake batter. I created ‘scrambled eggs’ for my first dish, with tomatoes, mushrooms and onions and it was really good although I will say not very ‘eggy’! The Easy Egg cooked amazingly quickly and the box offered a lot of servings, so I am happy to experiment with different ways of cooking it without worrying too much about waste. This product really opens up a range of other meals to me, and I am really excited to try making many more dishes that I’ve not been able to enjoy for a while.” 17

First Grade International Ltd

Supply in

demand First Grade International Ltd is a leading supplier of high quality food ingredients, with a focus on the importation and distribution of coconut-based products


uaranteeing consistency and quality in the foods that it delivers, First Grade International Ltd boasts more than 35 years individual experience in the sourcing and supply of products that will meet its customers current or new product specifications. Looking back on the company’s history, General Manager of First Grade International Ltd Tim Withers comments: “A major milestone in our history stems from our creation in 2003 when our current owners became involved. There had been a previous business that was supplied by our colleagues in Singapore, however they saw an opportunity for vertical integration to shorten the supply chain through the purchase of a company that gave them the opportunity to access a sizeable market. “There is a love affair with coconut in the UK, and our operations started with seven people setting up a sales and marketing operation to sell ingredients to

manufacturers. This is the heritage that was acquired and built on many times over, in fact, our first year of business was just under £7 million turnover and in 2016 it was just over £50 million. Not only has the value increased, but volumes too. In the first year of business it was just a few thousand tonnes and now volumes exceed 38,000 tonnes across the product range.” The reason for this growth stems from the company seizing a strategic opportunity to become a one-stop-shop for coconut ingredients. A more diverse product than people may imagine, First Grade International Ltd worked on becoming the one key source for coconut-related products to save customers from buying items from a range of suppliers. “Customers can come to us and buy all of the products they need, whether it is coconut creams, milks and powders, creamed coconut, desiccated coconut, coconut chips, flakes and shreds and toasted and

sweetened products. Our decision to focus on coconut products came at a time in the market when industrial buyers were looking to limit their own supply chains and cut down; it was the time of the specialist, really.”

Stable supply To strengthen this commitment to specialising in coconut products, the company worked with only accredited factories, something that became significantly more important in the manufacturing industry over the coming years. Additionally, First Grade International’s owners had acquired their own plantation. It’s one of the world’s largest plantations and extends to over 250,000 acres, as Tim comments: “With these plantations we can avoid potential challenges that take place in the market and ensure that the factories have something to work with every day. One reason for us to acquire these plantations was to ensure we have a 19

stable supply for customers; although coconut is a tropical crop that grows 365 days a year, the reality is that only ten per cent of coconuts go to be manufactured into edible products – far larger is the coconut oil industry who use the other 90 per cent so it’s a constant fight to get enough coconuts.”

available in both fresh chilled and long life packs in all major supermarkets. Additionally, the company offers a lowfat light version, an unsweetened version as well as a chocolate and a strawberry variant of the milk as well as a range of dairy free yogurts, which were launched in 2016.

Expanded offering David Armstrong, Deputy General Manager at First Grade International Ltd, adds: “On top of this, we also have a healthy stockholding in the UK, which smooths out vagaries of supply as we are the largest stockholder of coconut products in the UK and probably Europe too.” Seeing further opportunities with coconuts, First Grade International Ltd launched KoKo Dairy Free, the first coconut based range of dairy free alternatives to launch in the UK in 2010. The initial product, KoKo Dairy Free Original one litre milk alternative is now

“Our dairy free range has continued to grow extremely well, with new products launched and further listings with retailers in the UK as well as growth in European markets,” says David.

“It is not only due to growing levels of diagnosed intolerances within the UK population that this product has grown in popularity; over a period of time we have picked up business from vegans and life stylers too. The success of this product is that it can match cow’s milk by tasting more or less the same and also being used the same, in cereal or tea or coffee, for example.” Having developed a strong foothold in the coconut market, the company expanded its product offering to include cocoa ingredients, fruit ingredients and vegetable ingredients, as Tim comments: “Most of our coconuts come from Indonesia and the Philippines, however the company has widened itself to more than just coconut; it has always been the backbone of the business but we have wanted to widen our offerings to make ourselves a more important part of the supply chain. Having recognised strong links with a high-quality supplier for

Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines is privileged to supply a wide range of premier quality coconut products to First Grade International, which is a key partner in its UK and European distribution. The Franklin Baker coconut business was first established in 1895, through the purchase of a small coconut business enterprise in Philadelphia, PA., later relocating to Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1922, the first Philippine desiccated coconut plant was established in Manila and the company, initially known as the Philippine Food Company, was later renamed Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines in 1926. Franklin Baker, formerly owned by General Foods then Kraft Food, is now a privately-held company and one of the largest global suppliers of coconut products. Its products are shipped to over 50 countries worldwide, and it is the preferred supplier of desiccated coconut to major global food manufacturers in the United States and every continent in the world. Franklin Baker operates three major coconut manufacturing facilities in the Philippines. These plants are strategically located in Laguna, Luzon and Davao, Mindanao, manufacturing and marketing a wide range of coconut products. Franklin Baker’s manufacturing plants are renowned for producing the highest quality coconut products in full compliance with internationally recognised food safety standards. The plants are certified to the ISO 9001:2008 and HACCP quality management systems, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and SEDEX. In addition, its facilities are certified to conform to the ISO 22000:2005 Food Safety Management System, the ISO 17025 Laboratory Management System, as well as Halal plant accreditation by the Islamic Da’Wah Council of the Philippines, and have been Kosher certified by OK Kosher Certification. Its products and plants have also been certified under the USDA and European Organic schemes, as well as being Fair Trade, RSB and Non-GMO accredited.


First Grade International Ltd coconut, we thought why not recreate this in other commodities where we have the right level of knowledge?”

with supplies based on the renowned Spanish Queen variety, which is grown for its unique flavour and colour as well as its strong suitability for processing into both can and aseptic packs. Other products include dried vine fruits such as sultanas, raisins, currants and mixed dried fruit, and dried tree fruits; these include apricots, dates, figs and prunes. Vegetable ingredients are comprised of jalapeno, pepperoncini, cherry peppers and banana peppers; these are perfect in pizzas, sauces and ready meals.

Similar ethos He continues: “With this in mind, we went to Turkey and met a number of potential suppliers that we slimmed down to two family-owned and run businesses that have a similar ethos to ourselves. We are owned by a large family business that is located overseas, which is why we targeted these two fruit suppliers and our cocoa supplier, who are all well-established, long-standing family companies that focus on good quality and high standards. Today we offer a comprehensive range of dried fruits and have a connection with one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa powder, which is again a large ingredient for many food manufacturers in the UK and across Europe.” Fruit ingredients include pineapple,

By expanding its product offering First Grade International Ltd is enjoying great success – a trend that is set to continue as Tim steps down as General Manager after 14 years at the helm and David takes control later in 2017. “I will continue to work for First Grade International Ltd, but will instead look at business opportunities and help our continued growth. It is a time of change but we will keep a consistent approach on what we are trying to achieve,” Tim concludes. D

Brookes IP Established in London in 1852, Brookes IP has helped companies protect their trade marks, patents, designs and other specialised rights, including plant variety rights in the UK, throughout the European Union and internationally. Brookes IP take a commercially sensible approach to all areas of intellectual property protection and will provide pragmatic advice, balancing client’s goals with their timescales and any budgetary constraints to ensure the most comprehensive protection possible in each particular case. Developing close working relationships with their clients is a speciality of the firm and a partner or senior associate handles every case within the firm. 21

A fresh

approach Eisberg Group’s consistently high standard of quality has helped generate long-term customer satisfaction and trust in its fresh cut salads, vegetables and fruits


Eisberg Group


t was in 1983, within the confines of the Leuenberger family’s agriculture business in the municipality of Däniken, Switzerland, that first production of kitchen-ready salads for local restaurants and catering businesses occurred within the country. Responsible for this development was the Swiss company, Eisberg Group. Such was the response to its bold step into what was still a blossoming market at the time, that within four years the company had made its first delivery to McDonald’s in Switzerland. By the end of the 1980s the company had opened its first production plant in Däniken from which it continues to deliver to catering and retail customers countrywide. Production plants in Budapest, Hungary and Legnica, Poland followed in 1992, with its youngest plant, to date, opening in Romania in 1995. Fast forward 20 years and in 2015 Eisberg generated around 20,000 tonnes of convenience-fresh salad from its four production plants, while its 400-plus employees helped ensure that perfect products were delivered to customers in 16 different countries on a daily basis. “The strategy and focus of the business has always been firmly set on the European convenience market and we are excited by the fact that the fresh cut sector continues to grow, particularly when it comes to fresh cut salads, vegetables and fruits,” explains Eisberg Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Christian Guggisberg. “Working with several large multinational companies, as well as leading convenience businesses, we target European countries where we identify gaps in the fresh cut market, particularly those that present an opportunity for a company such as ours to establish a leading presence in the convenience arena. Examples of such scenarios exist in markets like Germany and especially in Austria, which we have exciting plans for.”

reflected in the raw materials sourced by Eisberg. Gently cultivated and harvested by its long-term partners in mostly open fields, the material is then processed by the group under the most hygienic of conditions possible. Eisberg recognises that, in order to have the highest quality of product, it needs to apply a combination of experience, modern production technology, quality-orientated thinking and a clear commitment to sustainability.

“We apply some of the strictest guidelines when it comes to our suppliers and the raw materials they provide,” Christian continues. “The year-round communication we have with these suppliers, together with regular inspections, allows us to have complete confidence in where our products are being sourced from. For our part, once we take receipt of the raw materials we ensure that regular washing with only clean water, free

Gently cultivated and harvested by its long-term partners in mostly open fields, the material is then processed by the group under the most hygienic of conditions possible

Strict guidelines The wide variety that nature offers in terms of salads and vegetables is 23

from additives, is carried out every two hours and that a complete cold chain of below 8°C is maintained from crop to the delivery of its convenience-fresh salads.”

being one of Switzerland’s most innovative companies in its respective field, and boasts a large assortment of excellent processes and a wide range of products,” Christian states. “What we did was identify an opportunity to bring together such an innovative company with a highly efficient and competitive one like the Eisberg Group in order to bring about big advantages for the new company.”

Big advantages A separate line of business for Eisberg is its presence within the food service and wholesale gastronomy market. Having already forged relationships with some of the leading food service suppliers in Switzerland, the group has since strengthened its position in both this and its traditional convenience market through the merger between its Swiss brand and fresh-cut specialists Gastro Star. Merging with retroactive effect as of 1st January 2017 into the Swiss entity named Gastro Star, the competencies of both have been combined in order to offer added value to the customers in retail and food service. “Gastro Star has a reputation for

New plant opening As the growth of the fresh cut market continues to pick up pace in Europe, so too does the appearance of new players looking to capitalise on the opportunities on offer. This is creating an atmosphere of increased competition and a situation where retailers are taking a closer look at factors such as costs, in addition to matters relating to quality. One of Eisberg’s methods of capitalising on the situation will be the opening

Key Technology Key Technology develops and manufactures automated digital sorting systems and integrates them with its advanced material handling technologies to provide complete solutions for food processors. More than 3,500 digital sorting systems replace manual inspection and less advanced optical sorters, bringing laser and color vision, intelligent selection, split-second defect removal, and reliable good-product recovery to food processing plants. Key’s industry-proven vibratory conveying technologies provide unequalled performance for consistency, durability and the handling of food product applications in more than 25,000 installations worldwide.


Eisberg Group of a new production plant in Austria. “Our decision to construct a new plant in Austria is the result of our need to increase our existing capacity and meet a growing demand for locally sourced products in the country,” Christian says. “Austrian consumers want products that they can trace to their source and we believe there is a big opportunity for us there in working with local retailers and food service companies. Construction on the plant will begin in the Fall of 2017 and we hope to have it open by October 2018.” As well as increasing group-wide capacity, Eisberg also knows that bringing more added value products to market will also support its growth plans. “One of the things we will be targeting in the years to come will be the fresh fruit business, which we anticipate strong movement from over the next five-to-ten years,” Christian concludes. “Much like in the fresh

cut salads and vegetables markets, we believe we can help create and influence trends in this sector, and that by doing so we can achieve our

vision of taking our place among the most important European players in our field.” D 25

Launching into the future By utilising exciting and innovative new concepts, solutions and menu offerings, the Chopstix Group has embarked on a bold relaunch of the brand which is already reaping rewards in the form of sales, customer awareness and international growth


Max Hilton Jenvey


t is an almost universally acknowledged fact that change is inevitable. Regardless of which market, sector or industry one operates within, or how successful something is, or has been in the past, change is an unpreventable occurrence in the life-cycle of any enterprise. Change can, of course, be a force for good, particularly for those who embrace it and use it to create fresh, innovative ideas and concepts. If you need proof of this, just ask Max Hilton

Jenvey, Chief Operating Officer of Chopstix Group, the Accessible Oriental quick-service take away restaurant brand. “Over the last year, we have experienced a dramatic increase in business, which has been subsequent to the relaunch of the Chopstix brand, which coincided with the launch of our evolutionary flagship site on Oxford Street in London,” Max begins. “This launch occurred on 14th December, 2016, and in the months since every

Chopstix Group

Domestically, the first Chopstix outlet to exist within one of Welcome Break’s motorway service stations opened in August 2016, with a further five being rolled out since

screens. “We based everything on the customer journey in order to create a warmer, friendlier and more welcoming environment,” Max continues. “We know that our customers love our food, but we believed that the rest of the restaurant environment needed to be brought up to the same high standards. That is what we have delivered and the reception we have received has been phenomenal, not only from our customers but our franchise partners as well. The relaunch has really brought the brand into the public focus, and its attractive, stylish and engaging look is what people are obviously wanting today in a quick service restaurant environment.” Incorporated into the new look of its restaurants is an updated counter design, one which provides customers with an even clearer view of how Chopstix chefs prepare its food fresh from the wok to the box. “More and

more customers across the food industry are now expressing their desire to actually see their food being prepared for them and I think that is where Chopstix really comes into our own,” Max enthuses. “As our chefs are cooking the food live, the customer is seeing exactly what is going into their meal, from our pure chicken breast to our fresh vegetables and sauces. This only strengthens customer opinion of our brand and it goes without saying that the food tastes amazing.”

New choices Arguably the most important thing for the group’s operators, when it comes to its food offering, is ease of use, and the skill set required to prepare and produce its menu options. Working with its supply chain and manufacturers, Chopstix has worked to simplify the whole process, while maintaining safety and consistent quality. The result is that its ingredients

existing site that we have refreshed has delivered a 20 per cent plus year-onyear increase in sales.” Not to put too finer point on it, when it came to the relaunch of the brand, Max admits that the approach they took was to review everything except for the food. The result was the unveiling of new brand livery and interior schemes, a refreshed corporate identity, instore marketing and digital branding, updated visuals and carefully designed digital menu 27

arrive on site fresh and ready to cook. In addition to this work, Max also set about establishing a new Marketing and Product Development (MPD) department within Chopstix, which has been tasked with alleviating menu fatigue by introducing new choices and options that adhere to the group’s established quality standards.

Incredible feedback The relaunch of the Chopstix brand represents an exciting time in itself, but it also comes during a period in which

the group is pursuing exciting growth opportunities at home and abroad. Domestically, the first Chopstix outlet to exist within one of Welcome Break’s motorway service stations opened in August 2016, with a further five being rolled out since in locations including Birchanger and Membury. Meanwhile, on the continent, the group is delighted to be partnering with the Westfalen Group AG in Germany. “We first met with Westfalen Group back in 2015, at which time we quickly recognised how serious they were

Signature Catering Signature Catering has been recognised by the industry for over 35 years for manufacturing and installing bespoke stainless steel catering equipment, including our popular Chinese Wok Cookers with over 67 different combinations. We specialise in supplying bars, hotels and restaurants throughout the UK and Europe. Our experience in commercial catering works has enabled us to provide turnkey solutions to client’s projects from start to finish. We offer professional services, ranging from design and planning, to manufacturing, supplying, installation and maintenance services.


about offering their customers great quality food and variety,” Max states. “Throughout 2016, we worked together to develop our ideas and in the last month we have launched our first site with them in Münster, feedback from which has been incredible. We have a further two stores currently in the planning stages and we will continue to look carefully at how we can deploy the brand further into some of Westfalen Group’s 180 units across the region.”

Warp speed growth Discussions regarding further panEuropean opportunities are constantly ongoing in one form or another, with particular optimism also surrounding the Chopstix Metro offer that Max has also been developing for the group. Based on a smaller version of its noodle bars, the Metro unit concept is expected to be launched later in 2017, providing smaller retailers and lower-scale footfall

Chopstix Group operations the opportunity to offer fresh Oriental food to customers on the move. In terms of where Max now wants to take the brand, a large part of his focus will be on leveraging the successful relaunch of Chopstix to develop its UK market presence further. The group recently commissioned research and analysis from Pragma UK, who returned with a report suggesting that the group could ultimately have over 1300 sites across the UK. This is naturally something that Max is keen to explore and he has an ambitious target to fulfill at least half of this number in the next three-to-five years. “The growth and speed to market that we have experienced over the last 18 months has been nothing short of warp speed, and I would like to thank everybody within the Chopstix family, without whom this would not have been possible,” Max concludes. “Everyone, from our founders to our franchise partners and every member of staff has really rallied together, showing total faith in the brand, and each of them are owed a great debt of gratitude.” D 29

a l r u a t a p n proach e h T

Using its expertise as India’s leading manufacturer and exporter of standardised botanical extracts for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd (Arjuna) has expanded into natural food preservation and natural food colours for the food industry



ince its establishment in 1989, Arjuna has enjoyed significant success, with customers located in approximately 40 countries; it also has several international patents to its credit, the majority of which are commercialised globally. Today the ISO 22000 certified Arjuna develops and produces a range of patented products at its four facilities that amass an area of 400,000 square feet. Here its production processes and products meet global market-specific regulations and its herbal extracts meet all international standards. The company is also GMP certified with Star K Kosher and Halal certification. Playing an integral role in the Arjuna’s success is its highly advanced and complete R&D facility, which the company spends approximately ten per cent of its turnover on. By putting superior R&D at the heart of its operations and thus ensuring a pipeline of exciting launches, Arjuna is able to compete against global majors and stay afloat in evolving markets. Approved for in-house research by the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, since 2002, Arjuna further strengthens its R&D capabilities by

associating with reputed universities during certain projects. Looking at the company’s progression as an innovator, Antony Kunjachan, Executive Director at Arjuna Natural Extracts begins: “We have been operating for more than 25 years with a focus on innovative natural extracts for the health food industry. Starting operations as a manufacturer of the essential oil of mustard, in 1990 we became the second company in the world and first in India to manufacture the essential oil of mustard. “From there, we shifted into the natural health food space with the manufacture of curcumin, a turmeric extract, and progressed into branded ingredients and patented products. This resulted in the launch of BCM 95, the world’s largest selling bioactive turmeric extract on the market. Moving forward, we began to manufacture Omega-3 from fish oils and were the first in India to do this; we won a national award for developing this product in-house and supply Omega-3 to all major pharma companies in India. More recently, we have launched the first Amaranthus extract standardised from nitrate for

Arjuna Natural Extracts Ltd sports endurance; this too, is patented. Continually focused on innovation, we sought to enter the food industry, and after two years of research we launched our range of natural preservatives for bread, cake, mayonnaise, fruit juices, meat and frying oil.” Ideal for those who seek green or clean labels, Arjuna’s new natural solutions for food products enhance shelf life and quality without compromising safety or sensory attributes. By combining antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant components that are isolated from different natural sources, the company has created a solution that meets the demand for products with fewer synthetic additives, while also offering increased quality and shelf life. “The entire food industry has to use chemical preservatives, so few offer natural solutions that are antioxidant and anti-microbial together, so there is a lot of interest in our product so far as people want to shift into the natural space,” says Antony, who goes on to explain the process of developing anti-microbial products: “We have a dedicated microbiology team who are focused on the development of antimicrobial solutions. The products are specific to applications, so the natural preservative of bread will be different to fruit juices, and customers of fruit juices may have a different combination of micro-organisms that cause spoilage. In response to this, we usually offer a standard solution, which may require fine tuning; if this is the case, we request a spoil sample, which our microbiology team will then culture and identify the micro-organisms. Once identified, our application team will find the natural extracts or ingredients to fight the microorganisms and make a blend, which will then undergo a challenge study. Once the blends suitability is proven, we have a chef in an application kitchen, where the blend is fine-tuned to ensure there is no sensory impact to the food.” While the launch of its natural food protection solutions is certain to be a focus for Arjuna, the company is also keen to generate attention for its branded and patented Oxystorm product. Using an extract of Amaranthus, one of the highest dietary

sources of nitrates discovered, the company has developed a product that provides four times the amount of nitrate compared to conventional sources such as beetroot. This 100 per cent water soluble extract has neutral pH of seven, is oxalate free and available to

customers in a convenient powder form. “We have a patent on Oxystorm and have done trials to see the level of nitrate in the blood through saliva; we also did a clinical trial on athletes to see how much their performance was enhanced after consuming our product. So far, three trials are published and two are ongoing,” highlights Antony. With a number of product launches in the pipeline, Arjuna anticipates further success in the short-term as it focuses on its natural preservative range and Oxystorm. Looking further ahead, Antony believes Arjuna will continue to grow through the delivery of high quality, innovative products that meet the needs of the market. “We aim to be a leader in the natural extract space as we continue to bring out products that are clinically documented and have enough scientific evidence and credibility behind them,” he concludes. D 31

white. People liked this and would say it looked lovely, however time has passed and there is now a push away from standardisation and a focus on more eyecatching colours.”

The future looks sweet

The producer of the Lovemore Free From range, Welsh Hills Bakery supplies leading UK retailers and customers across the globe with biscuits, cakes, tarts, sweet pies and slices



elebrating 60 years in operation in 2016, the Hirwaun-based Welsh Hills Bakery began as a family company that delivered bread to people’s homes and has since become a leading UK manufacturer of cakes, pies and tarts – with the last 15 years specifically dedicated to gluten, dairy and wheat free products. Selling across the globe, the 70-strong firm believes its personnel, from management through to its professional and competent in-house technical team, is key to its ongoing success. With Lovemore fast becoming a market leading brand in the world of gluten free, the company has been busy with a brand refresh since it was previously featured in FoodChain magazine in November 2016. Discussing this strategic development is Managing Director of the Welsh Hills Bakery, Peter Douglass: “We launched the Lovemore brand in 2008; back then the UK was in an economic crisis and there was a bit of doom and gloom so we had mysterious black packaging with a band of different colours then some

Revamped packaging The refreshed design includes a new logo design for the Welsh Hills Bakery, which now has a type style that appears as though each package is hand signed by a company that is proud of its high quality products. Meanwhile, the Lovemore brand has a revamped logo and packaging style, with the heart within Lovemore designed to look more similar to the graphic hills of the Welsh Hills bakery logo. Stepping away from black and white, the company’s products are now popping with colours such as bold greens, reds and purples to ensure they stand out against the competition at stores such as Morrison’s, Waitrose, Coop, Ocado and Holland & Barrett. Completed in October 2016, this refreshing of its product range has further boosted Welsh Hill Bakery’s presence in the free from arena. “We have smashed the budget handsomely in the last quarter, with growth in the gluten free sector, customer awareness and the refreshing of our brand reflecting into our sales. We also have a very active sales team, which is led by Julian Cruttenden, our Sales Director,” says Peter. “For us it has been all about getting new customers and new lines. In fact, we have had five extra lines launched in Waitrose in July 2017. Our exceptional growth has reached the point that we will need to expand our 20,000 square feet premises; this is the next big thing on our agenda.”

New markets The new lines launched include a gluten free fruit cake, complete with cherries and pecans, hand-decorated on top of a round cake; another new product is a bakewell cake, a sponge cake with jam and cream in the centre and icing and a cherry on the top. “We are constantly looking at new markets to delve into, particularly in terms of export. So far we have found China a big nut to crack but we have a very healthy presence in the UK that continues to grow and have witnessed increased demand in

Welsh Hills Bakery Ltd the US and Canada. This growth in these locations is due to interest in our products thanks to our involvement in allergy and free from shows; we were recently involved in a show in Berlin, so there is strong interest in Germany also.” He continues: “I think the growth comes back to awareness as there isn’t any evidence of more people being diagnosed with coeliac disease. While approximately two per cent of the UK are affected with this, the rest of the people choosing free from foods are doing so for lifestyle reasons or because they feel better for not eating wheat. What helps with people making this choice is that we benchmark our products against the mainstream, with a focus on textures, feel, flavours and appearance, so most people wouldn’t even know that our products are gluten free when they eat them.” Operating in the retail and food service sectors, the Welsh Hills Bakery

aims to continue strengthening its foothold in retail while also gaining more contracts in the private sector. “We are engaged with a sales agency that has the contacts needed in the incredibly complex business of food service. Before working with this agency, we persistently tried to register with the NHS, and now we are engaged with them via sales professionals in that sector,” says Peter. Looking ahead, the award-winning company is keen to seek opportunities to network and forge new business at exhibitions throughout the UK and Europe with the goal of increasing its presence in overseas markets. “We have also got a record order book for our Christmas products, which is just around the corner. In terms of the future of Welsh Hills Bakery, the sky is the limit, with the free from sector set to grow between 16 to 20 per cent year-on-year,” Peter concludes. D 33

Celebrating 150 years in operation in 2017, Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Ltd. has become an integral part of the local community thanks to its portfolio of operations that includes convenience stores, funeral directors and department stores

Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Ltd exhibition at the local museum


Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Ltd

At the heart of

the community E

stablished by foundry workers in Chelmsford in 1867 with the intention of becoming ‘the star of the county’, the Chelmsford Star CoOperative Society Ltd. went on to merge with Braintree Co-Operative Society in 1969 to create the currently structured co-operative society under the name Chelmsford Star. Developed over the years through prudent investment, insightful management and the support of members as well as other customers, the Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society has become a significant trading presence throughout mid-Essex. Today it boasts 41 convenience stores, one off license, a petrol forecourt, five post offices, two department stores, two travel agents and seven funeral directors, which together generate an annual turnover of more than £100 million.

Discussing the company’s major historical milestone and recent developments since the business was previously featured in FoodChain in December 2016 is Barry Wood, CEO of the Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society: “To celebrate our 150th anniversary we are running a two month exhibition in the local museum, which is all about our history. We have also published a book that partly highlights this major milestone by showing our developments over every decade since 1867, but also celebrates the last 18 years since Chelmsford Star went through a renaissance in 1999 and came back from the brink. It is all about getting the message across on who we are, what we do and why you should shop at the Co-op, whether you require food, furniture, travel, fashion or funeral services.”

He continues: “The competition in the convenience sector is hotting up and the offers available to customers are getting better. To remain competitive we are investing heavily in our stores to ensure we stand out as a quality convenience store offering, with six refurbishments on our stores completed in 2017 already within the food store estate. We have two more refurbishments planned in the second half of the year, which will bring us up to eight refits and is the most we have ever done in one year. This work is being completed with the goal of protecting our market share and showing the quality offer that Co-op delivers on every level within our business, with membership continuing to be at the heart of what we do.” For those who are a member of the Co-operative society, benefits include money off vouchers to save 35

on everyday shopping, a chance to win every time you shop with the organisation’s Member of the Month promotion, exclusive deals with many local businesses and the opportunity to assist over 350 community groups and charities every day.

On-going success “We also have our community card scheme where every time the member of this particular scheme shops and swipes the card they get points that a normal member gets; however, when they draw the money out we then add 50 per cent of whatever they have earned. It means charities can raise money via their supporters going out and doing what they do, buying food,” says Barry. Since its formation in 1999, the Community Card Scheme has gone from strength-tostrength and today there are more than 300 local community and charity groups with an account.

Big Grocery Giveaway Scheme – where the company chooses one member each week during its 150th year and gives them the cost of their shopping back on their membership card

While the company continues to refresh the Chelmsford Star estate and generate awareness on the benefits of being a Co-operative member for both shoppers and the local community alike, it has enjoyed ongoing success within its food offering, as Barry highlights: “Our local food offering, which is named The Only Way is Local, is going extremely well and is in a lot of stores. We are always looking for new suppliers, however it is all about finding the right balance of supporting local suppliers without being squeezed on price but also being commercially viable to ensure we deliver dividends to members. Trends on a commercial basis include a high demand for fresh food and we are getting large sales increases in this segment compared to tins and packets. We have also added food-to-go such as Dunkin’ Donuts and rollover hot dogs to our offering, which are going well as this is a massively growing market. The

Year from 2016/17, pany’s Charity of the Kids Inspire – the com them over the year for k £34 r having raised ove

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Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Ltd challenge for us now is the delivery of this expanding range of fresh food to our customers and the minimising of food waste both in the supply chain and in customers’ homes. “Nevertheless, research undertaken within our stores by HIM under the CTP programme shows people are happy with what we are doing but it is surprising how over time the importance of what people want from stores varies. For example, in 2017 the survey shows that cleanliness is the most important thing for customers; this is followed by staff friendliness and helpfulness, so our refit programme is certain to please our customers thanks to their fresh, modern and high quality feel.”

out complementary market trends that will aid further growth. “We want to keep up with market trends and exploit these while also offering the Co-op

difference when it comes to membership and making a difference to the local community,” Barry concludes. D

The Co-op difference Looking ahead, Chelmsford Star Cooperative Society will remain focused on improving the look of stores, expanding its portfolio and seeking

The newly refurbished store in Writtle, Chelmsford, where energy saving doors have been installed on refrigerators 37

Reaching maximum potential

First class ingredients, highquality 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


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


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, 39


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Max Burgers 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 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

Seattle’s Best Coffee Max Burgers and Seattle’s Best Coffee have been in partnership for four years, with the coffee being available in 118 MAX restaurants in Sweden, Norway and

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.”

Denmark. Max Burgers’ guests have the chance to enjoy espresso favourites such as Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Mocha and Iced Coffee’s. All of Seattle’s Best Coffee beans are roasted in Amsterdam alongside Starbucks coffee. Seattle’s Best Coffee beans are medium roasted for a smoother and easy-to-drink coffee. Quality is never compromised and only high quality 100 per cent Arabica coffee beans are used. All Seattle’s Best Coffee beans are Fairtrade certified and the same ethical sourcing standards set by Starbucks also apply.

Customer flow These returning customers will also have witnessed how Max Burgers has embraced technology and innovation in order to make their experience of visiting its restaurants more rewarding and enjoyable. “We were one of the first

The self-service kiosks for order and payment are well integrated in the interior design at the newest Max restaurants 41

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 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

Interior at Max Burgers showing seats overlooking the seating area and the large community table for all burger lovers.


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

Max Burgers

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

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 from the farmers’ land to our guest’s hand. We are doing it by capturing carbon through tree plantations in Africa.

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

Green Family “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

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

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

The new restaurant concept for Max Burgers has been designed by Wingårdhs Architects, and has a Scandinavian touch of wood, light and space 43


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 44

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. 45



Serving freshly prepared food & drink in a relaxed and friendly environment, Natural Kitchen has proven a hit for hungry Londoners and visitors alike


atural Kitchen started life on Marylebone High Street as an artisan supermarket. Since that time the business has transformed into a provider of delicious freshly made healthy food & drink choices all in a relaxed and friendly environment. Over the last nine years Natural Kitchen has expanded throughout the capital and today has eight locations in London that are based in New Street Square, Trinity Square, Baker Street, Tudor Street, Waterloo Station,


Aldersgate & the latest at Angel Court near Bank. At its flagship unit on Marylebone High Street the Natural Kitchen offers an extensive selection of delicious healthy food prepared on site & drink choices at its extensive salad deli, coffee & juice bar. On the first floor there is The Green CafĂŠ offering full table service. The menu includes breakfast/brunch offerings such as dairy free organic jumbo oat & quinoa porridge with banana and honey, vegan sweet potato, lentil, oat and pumpkin cake, eggs Florentine, and natural Greek

Natural Kitchen

As Natural Kitchen continues to grow its brand, the company’s focus will be on securing further sites in high-profile locations throughout London that have a diverse mix of visitors and local residents

yogurt and granola. Served until midday except on weekends an NK English breakfast and NK vegetarian breakfast, while starters & lite bites include NK’s soup of the day, 100 per cent natural Manuka smoked salmon, halloumi cheese wedges and homemade vegan nachos. Also on offer are healthy salads, handmade burgers using only the best cuts and ingredients, and puddings such as gluten free warm chocolate & salted caramel brownie, apple, mixed berry & granola crumble and red velvet cake.

Meanwhile, the other London locations offer casual à la Carte dining & bars. Here customers can either relax and enjoy the delicious food and beverages on offer, or, if in a rush, they can take advantage of Natural Kitchens well-reputed and popular food-to-go deli, coffee & juice & smoothie bars. All options are available from early in the morning until late in the day. Additionally, Trinity Square, Baker Street, Waterloo Station and Aldersgate offer draught beers and refreshing mojitos as well as the company’s staple juice bar for customers wanting to enjoy a classic cocktail or a delicious smoothie in the city. For those seeking a drink after work, Natural Kitchen’s locations at Baker Street, Barbican, Trinity Square & Angel Court have a happy hour, which takes place weekdays from five pm to seven pm or four to six pm depending on where you are.

Food provenance The most recent location to be added to Natural Kitchen’s portfolio is at the new 24-storey Angel Court development

in London. Taking a 6000 square feet site in the Copthall Avenue unit, Natural Kitchen’s new site features a downstairs gin bar with 32 gins complete with wooden floors, chairs and tables that are mixed with ceilings hanging with green foliage, soft blue walls and dim lighting. Upstairs, meanwhile offers a similar décor but in a more open space that takes advantage of five metre high ceilings and expansive natural light with double height glass all around. Passionate about good food, from fresh fruit and vegetables, to fish or meat, Natural Kitchen uses a handful of trusted suppliers that deliver the best possible taste and quality. With the provenance of its food paramount, they take the time to ensure ingredients are from sustainable and ethical sources, which in turn results in Natural Kitchen’s menus bursting with the freshest, tastiest and environmentally friendly ingredients. To maintain this strong reputation for using traceable food of the highest quality, Natural Kitchen works only with suppliers who share its philosophy. Suppliers include Debono, Celtic Bakers, Real Good Ketchup, Miko, Skandel Boathouse, Smith & Brock and Alliance Foods. Inc and Hush Hush Chefs. Furthermore Marylebone High Street features a butchers shop, which was established in 2008 by Andy Jordan a long time friend of Justin Green the MD of Natural Kitchen. Andy was a chef for over 20 years with experience in highclass restaurants and hotels - including six years with Marco Pierre White - and John Bartlett, a highly skilled master butcher with more than 30 years in the trade. Offering expert advice on both the selection and cooking of the company’s quality meats, the butchers sells a wide range of high quality free range and organic meats. Because these have been sourced directly from small traditional farms, the butcher has full provenance and traceability. 47


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Natural Kitchen

To further strengthen customer loyalty from locals and visitors alike, Natural Kitchen has set up a loyalty app, the NK Club. Offering rewards with every single purchase at Natural Kitchen, whether it is from the food-togo deli, restaurant or bar, the app also means that customers will be offered great deals straight to their phone.

company thanks to its commitment to high quality food, innovative offerings and focus on expansion. As Natural Kitchen continues to grow its brand, the company’s focus will be on securing further sites in high-profile locations throughout London that have a diverse mix of

visitors and local residents. The aim is to stay good at what it does, not just get big. With a proven recipe for success in place, it is certain that more Londoners and travellers will be enjoying Natural Kitchen’s exceptional quality food in the future. D

Further sites Alongside serving 2000+ customers per day at its restaurants and delis, Natural Kitchen also provides outside catering services and events, offering a wide variety of food & drink that can be collected, delivered or enjoyed at one of the Natural kitchen venues. Natural Kitchen is flexible in offering dinner party for ten or drinks & canapes for many hundreds. Menus include canapes, a hot & cold buffet, finger food and drinks. Having achieved immense success in less than a decade, Natural Kitchen was recently listed in the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Europe 2017 report. With the report a celebration of some of the fastest-growing SMEs in the UK and Europe, Natural Kitchen is in good

London Pride Unfiltered from Fuller’s When it comes to crafting great flavour we’ve being doing it for generations, not just the past few years. London Pride Unfiltered is the new beer from Fuller’s, available in 30L keg form. This is a contemporary interpretation of our iconic cask ale; dry hopped for added character, served colder for added refreshment and unfiltered for added flavour. This unfiltered, unpasteurised beer has a natural hazy appearance. It’s the Original Unfiltered. 49

Authentic Polish cuisine

Mleczko Delicatesy Ltd is a specialist Polish delicatessen that offers high quality Polish food at competitive prices



tarting with a single shop in 1995 in Shepherd’s Bush, Mleczko Delikatesy has grown into a small specialist chain of Polish delicatessen that is predominantly based in West London. The company, started by Wladyslaw Mleczko, is now run by his sons Michael and Tony. Mleczko provides customers with fresh quality food at unbeatable prices at its 12 stores. Five of the company’s shops are located strategically in the borough of Ealing where there is a vast Polish community; while this area of London naturally has a number of Polish stores selling similar Polish cuisine, Mleczko Delikatesy differentiates itself by ensuring it is accessible and welcoming to non-Polish speakers who want to discover new foods in the local area at a competitive price.

“My father opened our first delicatessen in Shepherd’s Bush in 1995, with a second store opened in Hanwell in 2000. In 2004, when Polish and Eastern European EU citizens were allowed to travel freely there was an influx of Polish people, which is when my father and I saw an opportunity to expand. Since then, we have opened a store in Greenford in 2006, South Ealing in late 2006, Cranford in 2007, Hounslow in 2008 and we continued to grow until we reached 12 stores. Yearon-year turnover has increased, which is partly due to the fact our shops are located in deliberately targeted areas that have a strong Polish community and good logistics,” says Michael Mleczko. “Each store has a different customer profile, so our stores in Croydon and Shepherd’s Bush are 50 per cent nonPolish, while our stores in Hounslow

Mleczko Delikatesy and Slough are 70 per cent Polish. We believe there is a lot of potential in the English market, as the food is good and better value than equivalent products in the supermarkets,” he adds.

Traditional foods By focusing on produce, service, pricing and logistics, the company has gained a reputation for excellence, with the company’s shops well-supported by the local Polish community and English customers alike who are seeking high quality Polish goods or brands. Mleczko Delikatesy has also generated a strong customer base that travels from outside London to stock up on traditional Polish food. These items include fresh meat, a wide range of cold and processed meats, such as ham, salami and kielbasa (smoked sausages), freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries; pickles, relishes and soups, tinned and fresh fruit and vegetables; frozen foods, drinks such as Polish beer, spirits and fruit juices, confectionary, chocolates and candies and traditional Polish dumplings with a variety of fillings. Dairy products are also very popular with customers as they are high quality and sourced carefully from dairies such

as Czarnkow, which is an experienced and passionate producer of awardwinning products. Those available to customers include extra curd cheese ‘twarog’, an outstanding, creamy, smooth and delicate cheese that has won over many consumers. Additionally, Czarnkow’s desserts for children beat the competition thanks to their nutritious value, natural ingredients and a great taste that is achieved through using fresh cream and cocoa.

Fresh meat and bread “We have our own butchers in three of our stores, Slough, Hanwell and Shepherd’s Bush, where fresh meat is provided to these locations and to our other stores. We also have our own bakery and bake our own bread from Polish recipes. We have some very good multi grain bread, whole wheat bread and bread without flour that is made from seeds, which brings people in. The English customers particularly like our bakery products and cakes as well as our dairy products, which are very good value. All dairy products come from Poland, we have roughly seven trucks a week that go to our warehouse, which isn’t far from Heathrow on the M4. This 51

strong logistical position enables us to get around London easily and deliver fresh products to all of our stores quickly,” explains Michael.

Future possibilities He continues: “In terms of our supply chain, we have a buyer and a warehouse in Poland and we deal direct with producers and wholesales in the country. The goods are then delivered to our warehouse in Poland before being delivered to the UK; these items take a day-and-a-half to two days to arrive in the UK and the process is straight-forward at the moment. However, this may change after Brexit, as any border delays would severely impact on our business. Also, if people aren’t going to be allowed to travel in and out of the UK with a degree of ease, the country will be less attractive, this will have a direct effect on our business as well as I think many other


businesses. Part of the attraction of the UK is its openness” Despite the potential upcoming challenges facing Mleczko Delikatesy, the company is continuing to grow and

James Burden Limited James Burden Ltd. are wholesale suppliers of meat, poultry, game, cooked meats and delicatessen. Established at Smithfield Market in 1973, where the company currently has six outlets, we offer over the counter sales together with daily deliveries across London. We also have red meat and poultry trading offices in Newcastle and Kent, with a combined turnover of £120 million. Built on an unrivalled reputation for service excellence, James Burden works in partnership with leading producers both at home and worldwide to ensure continuity of supply to wholesalers, retailers, processors and caterers alike, delivering high quality products at the right price.

Mleczko Delikatesy store now has a cosmetic shop that sells high quality Polish cosmetics at a low cost and has a developing bakery portfolio. “While we are sourcing out ways to continue growing, we also want to catch up with our period of expansion and put in place all of the various controls and expertise that will help us to develop further. When you grow quickly, there is a lot of tidying up to do!” was recently added to The London Stock Exchange’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain Report. “It was a big surprise for us to qualify for such an award,” says Michael. “We are very proud as a Polish-focused business in the UK to receive this, as it is a positive change in how Polish food and companies are viewed.” Keen to remain a success, Mleczko Delikatesy is opening up new areas to expand into. For example, its Slough

Techcube Techcube would like to congratulate Mleczko Delikatesy for the recognition they have received. We are delighted to have worked with them and wish them continued success. We installed EPOS systems, a custom-built warehouse

With a new store in Wood Green due to open before Christmas 2017, the company sees a great deal of opportunity to grow, both in Poland and the UK. “In terms of our UK operations, it is a matter of continuing as we are. If we don’t have a hard Brexit, we will look to other areas in the UK where there are established Polish communities. However, it is important that if we are moving further afield we can still supply to our stores from our warehouse. With our good reputation, we see many possibilities for the future,” he concludes. D

management system and a Head Office software solution to ensure the effective management of multiple stores. We have also installed CCTV. The challenge was synchronising branches to the head office, and we used our knowledge and ideas to create a custom software solution. Mleczko Delikatesy now have streamlined, synchronised and automated systems that handle sales, purchasing and ordering tasks. Requirements change over time and we offer flexibility in the form of smart solutions. 53

Room with

a view


Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group Specialising in restoring and transforming old properties into luxury boutique hotels, Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group is driven by a desire to offer a unique and memorable experience to all of its guests


teeped in history, culture and some of the finest natural sights in Europe, Scotland has long been a tourist attraction, with more than 14.6 million visitors being drawn to the country in 2015 alone. In the same year, it was calculated that total overnight and day visitor expenditure was around £8.9 billion. Spending by tourists is believed to generate approximately £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain, making its contribution to Scottish GDP an estimated five per cent. Overnight visitors to Scotland are buoyed by the fact that accommodation here is often characterised by its exceptionally high standards, with a number of world class chains operating across the length and breadth of the country. One particular chain that encapsulates the quality of Scotland’s hotel and leisure sector is the Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group (Manorview), which boasts nine luxury boutique hotels across the central belt of the country. These hotels include Cornhill Castle near Biggar, Lanarkshire, Boclair House Hotel, Bearsden, Glasgow, The Busby Hotel, Busby, Glasgow and The Lynnhurst Hotel in Johnstone. Its head office is located beside the Bowfield Hotel and Country Club, in Howwood, Renfrewshire. “The Manorview group began life in 2007 operating the one hotel, The Commercial Hotel in Wishaw,

Lanarkshire, and in the ten years since we have grown considerably to the point where today the portfolio totals 16 licensed trade properties which include nine hotels, five pubs and two nightclubs, and support a total staff of over 600,” explains Steve Graham, Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group’s Chief Executive Officer. With a vast knowledge of the hotel and leisure sector at its disposal, Manorview is a very customer focused business, placing customer service and attention to detail at the heart of its day-today activities in order to ensure a memorable experience for guests regardless of the purpose of the visit.

Exciting menu options Manorview also possesses a strong ability to recognise potential and such a talent is pivotal to its beliefs and how it can progress as a company. “The successful recruitment, training and retention of our people is a huge area of focus for us as a business,” Steve states. “The longer our staff are with us, the greater understanding they have of our ethos as a business and what it is that we are trying to achieve, and this allows us to deliver a level of consistency when it comes to our service offering. I am personally a firm believer that when you look after your employees, they in turn look after the customers and ultimately this looks after the business.” The group does its bit in supporting the local supply chain by ensuring that the food it serves throughout its hotel restaurants is provided by quality,

The continued development of Manorview has resulted in the group being recognised for the second time by the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report 55

reputable local suppliers based in and around the west of Scotland. “Not only is the produce we use and serve important to us, so too is the way we present our menus and dishes within our hotels,” Steve adds. “As such, one of the initiatives we have pushed in recent months has involved bringing two executive chefs on board, whose jobs will be to provide help and support to our hotel’s head chefs to see how they can maintain standards and bring in exciting, new menu options. For me one of the most important things to achieve is consistency, which is perhaps also the biggest challenge we face when it comes to the food we offer. Bringing in our executive chefs has already shown us ways that this consistency can be achieved, even in a situation where our individual hotels cater for slightly different tastes and where we host weddings and other functions.”


Manorview Hotels and Leisure Group Through the continuing support of Barclays Bank and other funders, since the beginning of 2016 the group has grown its operations through a combination of purchase and development of new venues and refurbishment works within its existing estate. Projects of significant note include: • Acquisition and re-development of Cornhill Castle Hotel, a nine bedroom venue occupying an elevated position overlooking the upper River Clyde; • Completion of Boclair House hotel development in Bearsden, which the Group expects to become its flagship wedding venue, catering for 160 day and 200 evening guests. • Purchase of the iconic Star and Garter Hotel in Linlithgow • Development and refurbishment works at The Bowfield Hotel and Country Club in Howwood

ever if we want to reach our targets and this will remain a key focus for us. All the while we will ensure that we have one eye on opportunities that may tie into our portfolio, the incorporation of which can assist in expanding the Manorview brand.” D

Continuous growth The continued development of Manorview has resulted in the group being recognised for the second time by the London Stock Exchange Group’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain report, the first time being in 2015. To be included in the list, a celebration of the UK’s fastestgrowing and most dynamic small and medium sized businesses, companies need to show consistent revenue growth that outperforms their industry peers. Commenting at the time, Steve said: “At Manorview we have a philosophy of leading by inspiration rather than manipulation, and to be named in an Inspiring Companies List means a lot to us. I’m delighted to be included in this list for a second time, it shows we are continuing to grow and move in the right direction, and in line with our ethos.” Several months down the line and Steve remains clear as to the direction the group needs to move along to achieve its goals. “Ultimately the aim is to continue to grow the business at a consistent pace. We are at a stage now where the training and retention of our people is more important than 57

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 59



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 61


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. 63


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. 65

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 67


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. 69


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. 71


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 73

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 75


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 77

e h t n o p u k c Sto

No.1 Best Set eFololdiBnragnd



The Co-op

Locally sourced,

locally loved

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


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-for-like sales increase.”

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.

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 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. “This is money that has been raised by our members. Every time they swipe their membership card when buying Coop 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 own-branded 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 79

The Co-op 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 Coop’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

Producer of the Year’, where we will work with finalists to give them a listing at their local Co-op.”

Growth opportunities

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 Co-op offering record levels of Welsh beef and lamb. We have also teamed up with the Q Awards to search for the ‘Small

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 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 co-operative 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,

dormakaba dormakaba design, manufacture and install, then maintain and service, access control to buildings. We work with specification and architect teams to ensure the best design offering for the application is identified and installed. We also provide full asset management services from the point of installation. We have been servicing Co-op buildings for the last eight years. Our local branch managers are always in contact with the Co-op’s field facilities teams. We have a central, single point of contact within dormakaba, in the form of a dedicated account manager whose job it is to manage communications, reporting and service delivery for the customer.

80 81

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 82


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 83

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 85


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’.” 87

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 89

When a long shot pays off 90

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 91

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 93

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 95

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 97

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 99

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 101

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 102

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 103


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

FoodChain Issue 128 August 2017  

The latest edition of FoodChain

FoodChain Issue 128 August 2017  

The latest edition of FoodChain