Professor Elliott to warn businesses at food fraud conference

UK food businesses must take up the fight against food fraud or face another scandal – that will be the stark warning from one of the UK’s top experts at a conference this autumn. Professor Chris Elliott will tell delegates at the Fighting Food Fraud conference on 17th September in Doncaster that the fight has only just begun and can only be won with a coordinated effort.

The Professor, who was author of the government’s report into the 2013 food fraud scandal, The Elliott Review, and is Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, will address the challenges posed by the review and look at how businesses can best protect themselves while maintaining supply chain integrity and food authenticity.

Professor Elliott says, "Food fraud has fast become one of the key issues for the food industry. From suppliers such as farms and abattoirs, to manufacturers, packagers and supermarkets, even to caterers, restaurants and licensed premises – every business in the chain is affected by food fraud and the negative effect it has upon consumer confidence. It is up to businesses to understand the types of food fraud and its indicators, its penalties and consequences, and why protecting the wider food industry begins with businesses informing and protecting themselves."

He will be joined by Andy Morling, the recently appoint head of the Food Standards Agency’s Food Crime Unit, who will discuss the role of the unit and its impact so far, plus John Figgins, BRC Technical Specialist, who will provide an insight into compliance with issue 7 of the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety.

The conference is being organised by Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance, one of the UK’s leading awarding organisations for food safety qualifications. Richard Sprenger, HABC Chairman and author of Hygiene for Management and the Food Safety Handbook, says, "Food authenticity has come under close scrutiny recently from food retailers, manufacturers and consumers. Food law enforcement must be delivered effectively so that consumers can have confidence in the food they eat. With ongoing work to identify potential food fraud, this has fast become a key topic within the food safety industry."

The conference takes place at Doncaster Racecourse on Thursday 17th September. For more information, go to

Multimodal and FTA announce new awards and seminar partnership

The Freight Transport Association and Multimodal have joined forces to launch new awards categories and a fresh series of seminars at next year’s show.

The new awards event is being rebranded The FTA Multimodal Awards and will celebrate best-in-class achievement for all transport modes, as well as featuring new categories including innovation, training, and environmental best practice, and the Multimodal Personality and Exhibitor of the Year.

David Wells, Chief Executive Officer of the FTA, says, "FTA has supported the Multimodal event since its inception. With the awards and seminar programme becoming ever more popular, we are delighted to officially partner with Multimodal so that we can help grow the event and provide even more value for our members and the industry as a whole."

Robert Jervis, Multimodal Director, pictured, said he was delighted to be working more closely with the FTA to deliver an enhanced seminar programme and a bigger and better awards event, during the show which takes place at Birmingham's NEC on 10th to 12th May. He says, "Multimodal provides an important platform for our industry to grow business opportunities, meet, learn, and network, and thanks to this partnership, we can deliver even more value to our visitors and exhibitors."

The partnership will also see the FTA host an additional series of mode-specific workshops on its Multimodal Seminar Day on 11th May as well as other interest group meetings. This year’s seminars included panel debates on container weights, measuring carbon footprint and freight by water.

Multimodal 2015 was a record breaker, with over 8500 supply chain decision makers visiting over 290 exhibitors. This year’s Awards included five categories and attracted over 450 guests for an evening event at the National Motorcycle Museum.

Paragon makes light work of Eden Farm’s transport needs

Eden Farm, the nationwide frozen food and ice cream wholesale distribution company, has upgraded its routing and scheduling solution to ensure it can continue to deliver excellent customer service at a time of significant business growth. The upgrade to Paragon version 5.80 has allowed Eden Farm’s planners to process substantially larger volumes of data up to five times faster, further improving the company’s transport efficiency and customer service.

Since 1964, Eden Farm has grown from a family-run smallholding delivering its home-grown produce with one minivan, to a five depot operation distributing all the top brands of frozen food and ice cream and a turnover of £45 million. The distributor first implemented Paragon’s solution in 2011 to help it adhere to its guiding principle of “deliver on promise”. Further functionality followed, firstly with the addition of Paragon’s INRIX-based road speed data and HERE Map Content with street level mapping for daily operational planning use, and most recently with the upgrade to Paragon version 5.80.

Phil Ingham, Support Director, Paragon Software Systems, says, “In this latest version of the Paragon software, we have further enhanced the performance of our algorithms. This means our customers are now seeing even faster matrix calculations, which result in quicker routing. Users also gain instant visibility into actual operations, providing customers like Eden Farm with the intelligence to respond to issues as they arise, helping them to provide more proactive customer service and to continuously improve the efficiency of their operations.”

Eden Farm generates its own user-defined daily reports and KPI summaries from Paragon, which allows the company to analyse cost per drop, cost per kg delivered, miles per drop and miles per kg delivered. The solution’s configurability also allows Eden Farm to make use of one of Paragon’s user-defined fields so that annual revenue for each client is updated every time an order is imported into the system.

The upgraded Multi Depot and Fleet Controller in version 5.80 provide a greater level of specific driver, vehicle and route planning capabilities across the company’s nationwide transport operation. The seasonality of Eden Farm’s business means that contract transport is occasionally hired to meet increased demand. While all the vehicles in Eden Farm’s own fleet are equipped with tracking units, the company also has a stock of portable units for contractors. Paragon’s Fleet Controller links with multiple tracking suppliers, enabling the entire fleet, including spot hire vehicles, to be monitored and managed. All of these vehicles are included in the planned versus actual analysis, which is crucial for accurate logistics and cost management.

Robert Gee, Strategic Manager of IT & Operations, Eden Farm, says, “We have found that processing speeds are much quicker with version 5.80. We have significantly expanded our business, and, despite the substantial increase in the volume of delivery data processed, the new Paragon software is around five times faster, which saves our planners a considerable amount of valuable time. As we continue to grow, Paragon will be key to helping us maintain our focus on customer service.”

Food manufacturers urged to embrace digital for supply chain independence

Food manufacturers can gain greater control over their supply chains and no longer be so reliant on supermarkets for profit if they embrace the eCommerce world and optimise their back office and front-of-house business solutions.

That’s the message from international consultancy Columbus, at a time when a number of food manufacturing firms are moving away from the big four supermarkets in the UK and considering other routes to market for their products. Columbus insists that retailers are still an integral part of the food supply chain, and many food manufacturers need to be supplementing the work they already do with major retailers, with a fully encompassing Omnichannel strategy.

Mary Hunter, Managing Director of Columbus, says, “If you look at some of the more successful food manufacturing businesses, many of these supply goods to major retail stores and wholesalers as well as direct to consumers through eCommerce, webstores and distributors. During an age where consumerism is changing at a rapid pace and customers are demanding instant access to products, food manufacturers are missing a market channel and extra revenue if they are not embracing digital opportunities.”

Columbus is one of a limited number of consultancies in the marketplace capable of providing both a comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning Solution solution tailored to the individual needs of food manufacturing businesses, as well as an end-to-end Omnichannel retail solution. The company’s advice follows Rabobank’s most recent report on the food processing industry which declared food manufacturers are unprepared for the digital revolution. With the World Retail Congress revealing that supermarkets are already increasing sales by up to 20% through integrating their online and store sales in an Omnichannel strategy, Columbus states that grocers and food processors in particular, ought to be considering doing the same.

Mary Hunter says, “If food manufacturing businesses can get their IT infrastructure right, and optimise their back end systems with intelligent, integrated front-of-house and webstore solutions, there’s no reason why they can’t exercise greater control over their supply chains and supplement the profit they make from supermarkets by distributing their products through other channels.

“Omnichannel strategies that do encompass digital have no limitations on shelf space, reduced barriers to listing and delisting products, and very low capital expenditure requirements. Those businesses that fail to embrace digital channels in their Omnichannel strategy risk being pushed to the back of the e-shelf. It’s not about whether you should work with major retailers or not, but more about bringing multiple channels together for real supply chain independence.”

Double win for Partner Logistics at FSDF Awards

Partner Logistics is celebrating after winning the Best Contribution to Health & Safety and Best Individual awards at the recent Food Storage & Distribution Federation Health & Safety Awards.

The company won the award for their focus on health and safety leadership in the workplace, increased use of technology to improve reporting and engaging representatives in health and safety from all areas of the business.

Richard Bufton, UK Health, Safety, Environment & Quality Officer at Partner Logistics was also honoured at the event, picking up the gong for Best Individual Contribution to Health & Safety. Starting his career at Partner Logistics in 2009 as a forklift truck driver, he won the award in recognition of the significant commitment he has made to the health and safety culture at Partner Logistics.

Duco Bujize, CEO at Partner Logistics, says, “We are thrilled to have received these awards from the FSDF in recognition of our contribution to health and safety. It is testament to how our team go beyond expectations to uphold the highest safety standards for the benefit of our employees and customers.”

Partner Logistics is a market leader in Europe for the provision of highly automated warehousing primarily for frozen foods. The company employs 260 people and operates six state-of-the art facilities – two in the UK, three in the Netherlands and one in Belgium.

The FSDF Health & Safety awards are held annually to identify organisations and individuals whose performance in health and safety has been outstanding.

Bibby Distribution to expand European operations

Bibby Distribution is expanding its European operations, in support of plans by global food manufacturer Kellogg to increase its production capacity in Poland.

Bibby Distribution has been operating the Kellogg distribution centre in Kutno, Central Poland since July 2014, supporting a Pringles factory located on the same site. Both sites operate on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year, with Bibby Distribution managing exports of the popular snacks across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. As Kellogg expands its operations at Kutno, Bibby Distribution is working to ensure it can provide the flexibility required to continue to support this growth.

Philip Winterhalder, European Transport Manager, Kellogg, says, “We originally selected Bibby Distribution for our Kutno DC operation due to its competitive proposal and flexible approach. They had a previous track record of delivering flexible solutions through the operations they provide for us in the UK and we are pleased to have seen the same great service at Kutno.”

Bibby Distribution provides a full closed loop of support, bringing empty Pringles cans to the factory. Filled loads are then returned from the factory to the DC for full inventory management, including perpetual inventory counts and quality inspections. Bibby Distribution then dispatches finished product to the destination markets.

John Finnigan, Contract Manager, Bibby Distribution, says, “Our existing close relationship has allowed both firms to positively adapt the original requirements and tailor it to meet the needs of the production facility, while still delivering an efficient supply chain solution for the end markets.”

The Bibby Distribution-operated facility occupies 141,000 sq ft and includes capacity for 8000 pallets, each approximately 2.4m high. The DC is located just 200 yards from Kellogg’s factory, ensuring maximum efficiency.

Welsh cheeses set to further expand into US market

A Welsh cheesemaker is further establishing itself within the highly lucrative US market following Welsh Government funding which has allowed Carmarthenshire Cheese the opportunity to research the maturation process of its artisanal cheeses, thereby extending its shelf life and export potential.

Carmarthenshire Cheese was founded in 2006 and specialises in the production of mould ripened blue and white cheeses. For the past nine years the company has operated out of its Llandysul factory, providing supermarkets with a variety of soft, mould ripened and traditional cheeses, which draw heavily on their Welsh heritage, and utilise primarily local ingredients with provenance.

The core ranges have been designed for the UK market, with the main flagship brand being Pont Gâr. The company began exporting to the US, Canada, Australia and mainland Europe in 2009. However, after significant research into dairy maturation processes following Welsh Government funding, the plan is to significantly increase the export potential of the Welsh cheeses, particularly to the US market.

A £22,000 innovation voucher from the Welsh Government's innovation support programme has allowed Carmarthenshire Cheese to engage the services of an external expert to focus specifically on the maturation processes of cheese. A large amount of research into how the maturation process actually works has allowed the firm to create cheeses that have a longer shelf life, making them more suitable for export, but which have remained true to their artisanal roots, meaning that no preservatives have been added.

This strategy has been bolstered by the acquisition of a new high specification dedicated cheese manufacturing unit in Llanllwch, which the company will be moving into in August, which has been partly facilitated with the aid of the Welsh Economic Growth Fund, and which will be responsible for creating a number of new jobs in the local community.

Steve Peace, managing director of Carmarthenshire Cheese, says, “For us the main goal is to improve the shelf life of our cheeses so they are suitable for export without compromising on the integrity of our product.

“Previously exporting our products has presented issues in that the chilled food supply chain in distant markets may not be as robust as in the UK and as a result shelf life and product integrity may be compromised, shipment by sea for up to six weeks has introduced a significant lag in the distribution time. Both factors which may lead to high levels of spoilage. This was something we seriously needed to address at a factory level.

“It was a difficult technological challenge involving complex biochemical processes and being able to utilise the knowledge and skill of an external expert, and combining our joint scientific backgrounds, has been crucial in developing our understanding of maturation processes and microbiological spoilage, allowing us to reformulate recipes and improve product life. It has also gone a long way to limiting our waste outputs and improving our sustainability as a brand.

“Developing the US market is crucial to our future business plans but this was something we had to get right in order to be able to compete. In the US our products are regarded as premium products and it is imperative they could be regarded as such following exportation.”

Edwina Hart, Wales Minister for Economy, says, “Businesses in Wales that produce high quality food and drink products have huge international export potential. However, alongside the challenge of forging overseas commercial partnerships, one of the principal difficulties facing these companies has been delivering these products to international markets in peak condition, something that is particularly relevant to the dairy industry.

"It is pleasing to see companies like Carmarthenshire Cheese making best use of the innovation funding available from the Welsh Government, to develop their product in order that it is optimised for export.”

New record for Scottish food exports

Scotland’s Food Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced that Scottish food exports have surpassed the £1.1 billion mark for the first time, with total food and drink exports valued at £5.1 billion in 2014.

The new figures, which have been extracted from official HMRC export statistics for 2014, show that food exports alone grew by 3.5% on 2013, driven primarily by an increase in fish and seafood, which was up £38 million. The news has been welcomed by the Cabinet Secretary as a positive milestone, signalling increasing international awareness and appreciation of the quality and provenance of Scottish food, and Scotland’s distinguished heritage as a food-producing nation.

The Cabinet Secretary made the announcement during a visit to Scottish producer Mara Seaweed in Edinburgh, where he found out more about the company’s plans to start exporting to the seaweed-eating nations of Asia by the end of 2015. The market in Asia, where seaweed is used for food, is estimated to be worth around $16 billion.

Richard Lochhead, pictured, says,"These figures are extremely encouraging, particularly long-term, and reflective of the fantastic produce we have to offer here in Scotland. We are now seeing a rise in the popularity of Scottish produce in emerging markets – in China for example, we’ve witnessed a massive increase of 82% in food exports, with overall value now up to £46 million, evidence that the Chinese appreciate great Scottish seafood and meat. Our fish and seafood exports have soared, with sales hitting £613 million – up 6.6% on 2013 – due to an increase in exports to Asia and Oceania, the EU and Sub-Saharan Africa.

"It’s especially important to highlight this achievement during the Year of Food and Drink. We have a wonderful natural larder that lends itself to some of the best produce in the world and we have some extremely hard-working farmers, producers, and processors who deserve the recognition that comes with their products being in demand all across the globe.

"Scotland rightly deserves its reputation as a Land of Food and Drink, with a manufacturing industry which has seen turnover growth increase by 20.8% in just four years – outshining the UK as a whole, which grew by just 8.6% over the same period."

The top international destination for Scottish food and drink produce remains the USA, with exports worth £800 million followed by France, with exports of £734 million in 2014. For the first time, Spain has entered the top three export destinations for Scottish food and drink, with exports valued at £247 million. The fourth and fifth export markets, ranked by value, are Germany and Singapore respectively.

The industry has also benefited from some strong increases in food exports to a number of growth markets during 2014, which has helped to balance the overall picture for food and drink exports. For example, food exports to China are up a massive 82% to £46 million, mostly due to a 92% increase in exports of fish and seafood, and meat exports of £1.4 million, following the lifting of an import ban on British pork. Food exports to the wider Asia & Oceania region are up 31% to £113 million. Similarly, food exports to the UAE increased 25% in 2014 from their value in 2013 to £124 million, which is significant as it sees the UAE jump from 15th place to 8th in terms of biggest export destinations.

The largest share of food exports was in the fish and seafood sector, with international sales hitting £613 million – up 6.6% compared to the previous year. The rise in value of fish & seafood exports was primarily driven by an increase in exports to Asia and Oceania, the EU and Sub-Saharan Africa and has been aided by a collaborative industry effort to boost overseas demand for Scottish fish and seafood.

Susan Beattie, head of food & drink at Scottish Development International, says, "These figures show some really positive growth in particular markets as we start to widen our export base beyond Europe, and broaden the range of food products being exported.

"The results in key markets such as the Middle East illustrate strong demand for our premium produce – Scottish salmon and seafood has been particularly successful, and there is still a huge opportunity for other food and drink products. It’s also heartening to see growth in other categories such as sugar & honey, cereals and dairy, which were up 86%, 10.5% and 6% respectively. As a partnership we are investing in a team of global food and drink specialists to dovetail with the SDI support already on offer through our team in Scotland and in our 29 offices around the world.

"These specialists are based in our ‘top prospect’ export markets, but at the beginning of next month they will be back in Scotland for face to face meetings with ambitious Scottish companies looking to export to their markets. This type of on-the-ground connection is so important for companies looking to expand internationally, and is a great example of how we can help food and drink companies to prepare for export success."

Ten top tips to help manage traffic safely

Every workplace facility has a unique layout and will have different priorities – but one thing that doesn’t differ is the importance of managing the flow of workplace vehicles and protecting personnel. With 20% of all workplace deaths still caused by vehicles, A-SAFE have top cross-industry tips that will go some way towards making a workplace safer, streamlined and more efficient.

Wherever possible vehicles and pedestrians should be segregated, with each moving in their own defined zones.

Areas where vehicles and pedestrians crossover are critical and they should be properly managed – use floor markings, overhead walkways, control lights, gates and make sure these areas are clearly marked.

Understand the potential forces of the vehicles operating in your workplace – only then can safety barriers that are fit-for-purpose be installed. Barrier specialists should have an up-to-date tick sheet of vehicles with their potential kinetic energies.

Try to create pedestrian routes that follow ‘desire lines’ – the natural route a pedestrian would take around a facility. This way, it’s less likely a pedestrian will stray from the designated path.

Even the best traffic management procedures can’t prevent the wreckage caused by a rogue FLT driver. Make sure every driver is trained, certified and kept up-to-date with best practice.

Pedestrian routes should be clearly defined and coloured differently from areas where traffic is permitted.

Ensure a ‘deflection zone’ or ‘pedestrian buffer zone’ is implemented as part of the pedestrian route. This considers the amount of deflection in a barrier if it happens to be impacted by a vehicle. A white floor line 1m away from the barrier should inform pedestrians not to enter this zone.

Blind corners are potential hazards for vehicles. Strategically placed barriers can help ‘soften’ hard angles and improve drivers’ line of sight.

Wherever vehicles move near structures or equipment protect them with the correct, fit-for-purpose barrier system.

Facilities are ever-changing and can easily become over-run and unsafe. Continually examine and revise your traffic management procedures.

A-SAFE is the inventor and manufacturer of the world’s first fixed polymer safety barrier system. Barriers are implemented as part of a wider traffic management strategy that puts segregation of vehicles from pedestrians at its core.

Blakemore Fresh Foods expansion boosts sales

Blakemore Fresh Foods looks to have achieved record sales, in excess of £36 million for the 2014/15 financial year, following a successful expansion into new trading areas.

The fresh meat wholesaler and importer opened a new office in Bristol at the start of 2015, in addition to launching trading bases in South Wales, London and Nottingham in recent years. This success follows the company’s £3.5 million investment in a bespoke cutting, storage facility and head offices, located at Hilton Cross, South Staffordshire, in 2010.

Trading Director Richard Brownjohn says, “It is our ambition to be recognised as one of the top five meat importers and wholesalers in the UK, and the contribution of those within our new offices, in addition to the existing expertise that we have across our operation, will be vital towards us achieving this goal."

Richard also pointed to the important role that the company’s Welsh trading team have played in the growth of Blakemore Fresh Foods after three successful years with the business. The team that works out of the Talbot Green regional distribution centre all began working for Blakemore in April 2012 and have since brought £7.5 million worth of business to the company. Trading Manager Jon Jackson along with Traders Dewi Phillips, Andrew Hunt and Dave Llewelyn, has developed trade with local butchers, farm shops and pubs across Wales and the West Midlands.

Richard says, “The contribution of the traders based in our Welsh office has been exceptional and by working alongside our existing team, we have developed trade through the Talbot Green office from nothing to almost £8 million."

The business has also built upon the success of the Talbot Green Office by launching a new Bristol-based team, which consists of Giovanni Maniglia and Ross Henderson. The new office was launched in January with the objective of developing trade across the West Country, from Gloucestershire through to Cornwall.

Blakemore Fresh Foods forms part of the AF Blakemore group of companies and is an importer, wholesaler and manufacturer of fresh meat focusing upon global, national and local suppliers to serve a diverse and ever-growing customer base.

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