The conference was attended by over 220 delegates with speeches from industry influencers including Europe’s leading futurist Patrick Dixon who looked ahead to the world in 2050.
As well as investigating how technology will help shape our future – he highlighted how the frozen food industry can boost sales by focusing on shopper’s emotions. In his speech he said: “Emotion is at the heart of everything and it will shape our future forever. Food is an emotional business. Traditional brands endure across generations – that’s not just about food, it’s about emotion.”
Innovation across the industry was a key theme of the conference.
Empowering the workforce was also a focus of Bidvest Foodservice chief executive officer Andrew Selley’s speech. He highlighted how the international logistics and wholesaler puts innovation at the core of its strategy and added: “One size doesn’t fit all. Every depot manager isn’t just someone at the end of the supply chain – they are mini MDs and this is their business.”
And an uplifting case study from Ian Stone, sales, marketing and development director of apetito showed howthe business – which makes meals for care homes, hospitals, the elderly and education – is helping to transform the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable people.
Leading names from retail and government also looked ahead at how innovation and technology is shaping the future of the frozen food industry.
Sarah Bradbury, category director of frozen at Tesco, said growth had been boosted by innovations including the Nutribullet which had helped to grow the supermarket’s frozen fruit sales from £6 million to £25 million over the last three years. Tesco’s frozen sales have also been driven ahead with the launch of new ‘on trend’ products in response to customer demand. They include diced butternut squash and avocado – sales of which “had flown” thanks to mentions on social media.
Other highlights included Tim Render, deputy director of Defra’s Great British Food Unit, who called on the industry to maximise its potential to export.
James Walton, chief economist at the IGD, outlined how technology is putting society on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution. He also probed how driverless logistics, robotics and science could soon transform the food industry.
Whilst Julia Glotz, managing editor of The Grocer, predicted that although technological change was on the horizon – it may not be at speed. She added: “The way people eat and shop takes a long time to change and over the next five years most grocery shopping will still be in big supermarkets.”
The event ended with an inspirational speech from Debra Searle – who defeated the odds to row solo across the Atlantic. She recollected the epic journey which made headlines across the globe and demonstrated how “choosing your attitude” can change your future.
The conference, now in its sixth year, was held at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Brian Young said: “We are proud to have organised another valuable event for our members.
“The conference has once again shown how the frozen food industry is full of incredible energy and innovation – and by harnessing our joint knowledge and passion, it can only go from strength to strength.”
The presentations can be viewed below:
We are very grateful to our main sponsors Daregal Gourmet.and Tulip Foodservice Solutions. Our thanks also go to the following companies for their support and sponsorship: The Authentic Food Company, Bells of Lazonby, Chalcroft Construction, GRG Recruitment, Lantmanen, Reed Boardall, Senoble, SSI Schaefer, Sweet Street Desserts, Tipiak and XPO Logistics.