FROZEN FOOD CONFERENCE PLANS FINALLY OFF ICE

The British Frozen Food Federation’s (BFFF) Frozen Food Business Conference makes a welcome return on Tuesday 20 September at Stratford Manor Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Following a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the flagship BFFF networking event relaunches with former England Rugby Union star and Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year, Maggie Alphonsi, as the keynote speaker.

Delegates will be treated to a packed schedule covering six key topics: Economy, Retail, Foodservice, Consumer Behaviour, Sustainability and Showcase – with talks from both analysts and brands.

Rupert Ashby, newly appointed CEO of BFFF, said: “At a time when many people in the food industry are tackling the effects of inflation, labour shortages and rising energy prices, the conference is a great opportunity to take some time out and look to the future. Our carefully crafted programme covers a range of relevant topics to ensure that attendees can get a true understanding of the opportunities and challenges the frozen food industry faces.”

Along with our thought-provoking speaker schedule, the exhibition area will be a hive of activity with product samples and demonstrations.”

Speakers at The BFFF Frozen Food Business Conference include Andrew Selley, CEO of Bidfood, Blonnie Whist, insight director at Lumina Intelligence and Thomas Lye, prepared food category director at Tesco.

Mr Ashby added: “The industry has made great use of communication technology since the start of the pandemic but there’s no substitute for getting out there and having face to face conversations to learn from, build rapport and connect with colleagues and peers. The team has put in an incredible amount of work behind the scenes and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Day ticket and dinner packages are available now via the BFFF website, with preferential rates for BFFF members. Limited exhibition spaces are available and can be booked by contacting katemiller@bfff.co.uk.

INDUSTRY WARNS FISHING FUEL PRICES COULD LEAD TO LABOUR CONCERNS AND SUPPLY ISSUES

Seafish, the industry body for seafood has claimed that fuel prices were now close to £1 on average at ports, which is beyond what was predicted as the worst-case scenario in April (90p per litre, all tax excluded), has led to some vessels being tied up and crews walking away.

According to The Grocer, concerns for the high fuel prices were echoed by the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations’ (NFFO) chairman, Paul Gilson, who stated that “the price has, for several weeks, been hovering around the point where it becomes no longer viable to go to sea because earnings no longer cover costs – of which fuel is the most significant component.”

Gilson also added “as price takers, rather than price makers, cannot, unlike other sectors, simply pass on higher fuel costs to the consumers.”

The CEO of NFFO, Barrie Deas, explained that the UK was not yet seeing wide-scale tie-ups of boats yet, but this could still become a problem without further support for the sector, which will lead to a wider impact on fresh fish supply in the UK,

There have also been fears of labour losses and shortages of crews on boats due to the profit margins being low, in addition to a reduction in the share of fish haul profit that the crews depend on, to supplement their basic pay.

Sarah Wilson, co-founder of The Gentleman Fishmonger at Doncaster Fish Market, said that the impact on prices depended on the size of boats. Smaller boats were feeling less of an impact as they tended to stay closer to shore, but this sector only accounted for 3%-4% of what the fishmonger sold. Meanwhile, larger boats and companies were managing to continue to turn profits, but mid-size boats were being hit the hardest, which was “heart-breaking”, she added.

A Seafish spokeswoman echoed Wilsons comments, explaining the certain species and fleets were more at risk than others, such as scallop dredgers, beam trawlers and nephrops trawlers which use active fishing gears.

These issues had caused margins to shift downwards, meaning previously expensive, wild caught local varieties were becoming comparatively affordable. “We are now paying 40% cost above where salmon was in November last year,” which has made fish like Scarborough wild sea trout “now affordable in relation to the farmed product but they only have so much quota so you can’t feed the population on it”, she warned.

The Gentleman Fishmonger is having to think creatively to find ways to save costs, such as reducing the speed of their vans by 10mph to save fuel. They are also working together with many other fishmongers to do pick ups to save time and fuel.

 

TARGET OPERATING MODEL: HAVE YOUR SAY – REGISTER NOW FOR SECTOR SPECIFIC WORKSHOPS DURING AUGUST!

Government is seeking to broaden their approach to engagement to ensure they’ve heard from a wide range of interested stakeholders regarding the Target Operating Model (TOM)

Departments have already conducted specific, targeted engagement with critical stakeholders over the past few months and this policy-specific engagement will continue over August. However, it will now also be complemented by a series of cross-cutting workshops to discuss the development of the TOM with those who may not have a direct interest in the Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) and Safety & Security (S&S) policy models but who are interested in the scope and approach to implementation of the TOM.

The objective of these cross-cutting sessions will be to work with stakeholders to determine if Government is focusing on the right elements of the border model to change; to explore and identify the main challenges in implementing the TOM; and to gain insight on the level of detail industry will require in the draft TOM discussion document they intend to publish in Autumn.

Following the sector workshops, Cabinet Office will circulate an open invitation to all stakeholders to attend a fifth and final workshop, in person at 100 Parliament Street or virtually, covering themes and issues drawn out through workshops

The key questions they will focus on during these sessions include:

  • What are your views on the benefits of the proposed models for SPS and S&S in the round?
  • Where do Government need to work further with industry to refine the developing model?
  • What are your views on the implementation of the new approach and what will industry and Government need to allow this to happen smoothly?

Workshops will take place on the following dates and times, with the following groups:

18th Aug 2022           10:30-12:00 – Hauliers and Intermediaries (virtual)

18th Aug 2022           14:00-15:30 – CSPs and software developers (virtual)

23rd August 2022    14:00 -15:30 – Ports and Carriers (virtual)

24th August 2022     14:00 -15:30 – Business and Consumer Representative Organisations (virtual)

31st August 2022      14:00-16:00 – 100 Parliament Street (hybrid)

To register your interest, please complete the registration form BY MIDDAY 16TH AUGUST. Calendar invites will be sent out once registration has closed.

 

 

DEFRA APPOINT JOHN SHROPSHIRE AS CHAIR TO HEAD REVIEW INTO LABOUR SHORTAGES

John Shropshire, the former chief executive of major horticulture producer G’s Fresh Group has been appointed to head up an independent review into labour shortages in the supply chain.

John will be supposed by an expert panel from across the farming, fisheries, process and manufacturing aspects of the supply chain, which will include Fiona Dawson, non-executive director at M&S, the Lego Group and Kerry Group; Martin Ford, technical and sustainability director at Greencore UK; Mark Greet, former managing director at Falfish; William Kendall, food entrepreneur and director at Samworth Brothers; and Dr David Llewellyn CBE, founding member of the Skills Development Board which helped create the institute for Agriculture and Horticulture.

Environment secretary, George Eustice said: “I want to thank John Shropshire for agreeing to lead this independent review into labour shortages in the food supply chain. His industry knowledge and experience make him an ideal candidate to chair the review.

Whilst labour shortages are affecting countries around the world, we have already boosted the number of visas available through the seasonal workers route to 40,000 and extended it to include poultry and ornamental horticulture and we are working to encourage people to take up jobs in the sector. Labour is a key issue for British farmers and farming and this report will give the government vital insight into how to address it in future.”

The Government’s Food Strategy recognises that the sector cannot sustainably rely on migrant labour. The review will consider the challenges facing food and farming businesses to recruit and retail the labour and will provide recommendations for industry and Government to consider.

The final report will be publishes in 2023 and the Government resp

JBT GROWS STRONGER TOGETHER WITH ALCO

As of July 1st JBT, a global technology solutions provider to high-value segments of the food and beverage industry, announced it has acquired Alco-food-machines GmbH & Co. KG (alco), a leading provider of further food processing solutions and production lines.

“alco has been a family business for generations, and has over time built an excellent reputation in the market for providing innovative and leading further processing technology solutions. They are a great addition to JBT, and I’m convinced we are stronger together,” said Anders Lassing, President, Protein EMEA.

“The acquisition of alco complements and expands our product offering in further processing, in particular, expanding our offering in convenience meal lines as well as alternative and plant-based protein technology,” said Bob Petrie, EVP and President, Protein. “Bringing our companies and technologies together supports our vision to be the preferred solutions partner for our customers, backed by unparalleled application expertise and best-in-class local service support. alco also further strengthens our presence and capabilities in the important German market,” added Petrie.

alco was founded in Bad Iburg, Germany in 1977 based on the idea from Heinz and Gertrud Algra to make the best machines in the industry, which today, produce everything from noodle sauces, and pizza to convenience and snack foods. “JBT has always been viewed as a leader in food processing, and its approach to preserving the alco brand and continuing the family legacy of technology and service was of the utmost importance in finding the right partner to acquire the business,” said Isabelle Kleine-Ausberg, former shareholder of alco. “We are excited about the possibilities in the next phase of growth for alco,” added Thomas Kleine-Ausberg, Managing Director.

jbtc.com/foodtech

BFFF CALLS FOR EXTENSION TO LABELLING COMPLIANCE DEADLINE ON SUNFLOWER OIL SUBSTITUTION

Members will recall that on 24th June the FSA published further guidance to help industry make informed choices about the substitution of sunflower oil with other oils as a result of supply chain issues due to the Ukraine conflict.

At that time, they also wrote to food law enforcement, and port health authorities in England stressing that “during the current uncertainty, packaging and labelling choices should be guided by the availability of vegetable oils alongside what each business can reasonably foresee being in its products. This provides businesses with a degree of flexibility, particularly in the face of supply chain volatility”.

Whilst not set in stone, the FSA’s expectation has always been that businesses would return to labelling compliance by 31st October 2022. However, over the last month BFFF members have raised several concerns with us which strongly support the view that this date is unrealistic and unworkable.

To name but a few, we are hearing of lead times of between 16 and 22 weeks for board, planned shutdowns at processing plants and printers during August, ongoing backlogs and delays at printers due to Covid and unavailability at laboratories for analysis.

As I’m sure you are all aware, the complexity, scale and cost to businesses is tremendous. One BFFF member alone has estimated that around 600 of their lines have been impacted which would mean over 1000 labelling changes would be required. Taking into consideration the cost of a plate change at the printers this could equate to somewhere in the region of £35,000!!

In light of the above, the BFFF have been working on behalf of the membership to ensure your voices are heard. All concerns have been fed directly into the FSA, and we’ve been assured that they will be included in their assessments.

We’ve also drawn their attention to the recent FSA Ireland press release announcing a 6-month extension to the return to compliance date. Assuming no change in the current situation, this would seem a more sensible timeframe and we would hope that the FSA follow suit.  It is vital the FSA make a decision quickly to provide peace of mind to members trying to get high quality food on the shelf for consumers whilst battling against extraordinary challenges in the supply chain.

The FSA have thanked us for highlighting the above to them but as yet, have not commented further as to their intentions.

As always, we will keep members updated but, in the meantime, please continue to share your comments and concerns with us as the more information we can feed back to the FSA the more informed their decisions will be. Please forward any information to hollyjones@bfff.co.uk

MEALS & MORE REPORTS CHALLENGING SUMMER AS COST OF LIVING CRISIS HITS HARD

Meals & More, the charity started by leading UK wholesaler Brakes, has reported the most challenging summer since it was launched in 2015, as families navigate huge increases in the cost of food and basic goods.

The charity has also reacted to reports that families are having to cancel plans for the summer holidays as they struggle to pay for the basics, with the launch of a new campaign, ‘The Big Day Out’.

The Big Day Out is a pilot programme aimed at giving children at least one special memory over the Summer with Big Days Out being enjoyed at events as diverse as Go Ape, a day at the seaside or Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  Making Summer days extra special are some free Wall’s Ice Creams provided by Meals & More Supporter, Unilever.

As well as the Big Day Out, Meals & More is helping to provide more than 200,000 meals to vulnerable families this summer.

Kate Woodhouse, Chair of Trustees for Meals & More explains: “While the pandemic was challenging, we’ve reached an entirely new level with families really suffering with the unexpected rise in household costs and food.  We had hoped that the increased Government support would help address the issue of holiday hunger, but unfortunately, we are seeing more and more children and their families being dragged into poverty.  We’ve added six new delivery partners this year as we seek to increase our work, but we can only continue to grow with the support of companies like Brakes, Unilever, Innis & Gunn, Kellogg’s and Quorn Professionals.”

Brakes recently committed a further £500,000 to the charity as Margaret Gooch, Sysco GB’s HR Director, explains: “It’s heartbreaking to see so much need in the country and we are delighted to be helping Meals & More as it provides support to address some of the issues that are impacting young people and families today.  Sysco’s mission is ‘Connecting the World to share food and care for one another’ and Meals & More is a fundamental part of that.”

Margaret’s comments are echoed by delivery partners, who run the clubs on the ground, Kate Jeffels, Chief Officer for Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland, said: “We truly couldn’t deliver what we do without Meals & More. The demand for our support increased from providing 13,500 meals per year in 2019 to over 100,000 meals per year during the pandemic. Meals & More stepped up to enable us to be able to continue helping those who need it most.

“Now, with the cost of living crisis, the demand and dependency on services like ours are increasing further and we are so grateful to Meals & More for enabling us to continue.”

Chair of Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland, Rt Rvd Paul Ferguson, Bishop of Whitby went on to explain:

“We provide help to families in some of the countries most deprived communities here in the county of South Tees. The support from Meals and More has never been more crucial to delivering our service.”

Companies interested in helping support Meals & More’s work can contact katherine.ainsworth@brake.co.uk; Corporate Partnerships Manager, Meals & More.

PROMOTION TO SENIOR SHIFT MANAGER FOR ANDY PARKER AT OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL

Oakland International has promoted Andy Parker to Senior Shift Manager to support growing business demand at their Bardon distribution centre in Leicestershire.

Oakland Distribution specialises in the transportation of temperature-controlled goods and operates a fleet ranging from 44T articulated and 26T rigid vehicles to vans, all with multi-temperature capability. Experienced in a range of warehouse roles from end of line packer to despatch shift manager, Andy’s warehouse functionality knowledge and its reliance on transport to manage workflows is key to Oakland’s effective and efficient distribution logistics operation.

Said Andy: “Warehouse function relies heavily on transport. By continually monitoring, reviewing and analysing we can identify how we can improve and evolve to support our customers’ changing needs in this fast-moving sector.

“I will be supporting our Transport Director overseeing Bardon’s distribution operation, investigating and keeping a close watch on financial KPIs and reporting to the Board of Directors. I’m looking forward to working closely with drivers and office staff to ensure our fleet is fit for purpose and operating as efficiently as possible.”

A total supply chain solutions specialist, Oakland International offers contract packing, storage, picking, food distribution and brand development support for ambient, chilled and frozen food to the retail, convenience, discount, wholesale and food service markets in the UK, Ireland and via their partner in Spain. BRCGS AA accredited and a double Queen’s Award for Enterprise recipient for International Trade and Sustainable Development the company is currently working towards becoming the first carbon-neutral business within their sector.

Added Andy: “Oakland has a great family culture, as staff and management are very approachable which has helped me to become more involved and demonstrate my desire to progress. My focus is for Bardon to become the best in the business and a recognised flagship in transport.

“This is a valuable personal steppingstone toward my ambition of becoming a transport manager and I honestly feel privileged to have this opportunity to progress within Oakland International as I see a very bright future for myself and for the team.”

Oakland’s Distribution Director Martin Pearson stated: “Andy adds strength to our Bardon distribution team, and I wish him well as he continues to develop his transport career.”