Supply Chain

Scotland’s food and drink industry looks bright

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has recently met with representatives from the Scottish agricultural industry to hear first-hand about the myriad challenges they currently face and what actions would be most beneficial.

Ms Sturgeon and Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead discussed a range of issues facing the industry while at South Slipperfield Farm in West Linton. One of the key issues raised from the meeting was how to increase Scottish sourcing at home and abroad.

A study will be conducted by Scottish Food & Drink to help establish where retailers are sourcing products such as butter and cheese. The results will then be used as a foundation to achieve a step change, which will bring more Scottish products to market and improve access for shoppers to Scottish dairy products.

Ms Sturgeon comments: “Scotland has world class products and world class producers, and we want to see a situation where they are appearing in cafes, canteens and supermarkets throughout Scotland and also across the globe.

“We know that there is a strong appetite from consumers in Scotland to have access to home-grown foods and support our farmers and producers. Supermarkets, retailers and the foodservice sector are an important part of that journey from farm to fork, but we need to establish if we can all do more to drive up sales and accessibility.

“To do this, we need to have information on where retailers are sourcing their products and then identify how we can work with them and others to ensure more of their stock is Scottish. It’s also about tempting buyers to look upon Scotland for their products.”

New research institute to improve productivity in agri-food sectors

Seeking to support and enhance productivity in the agri-food sectors, the University of Lincoln UK has announced the creation of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology.

The Institute will capitalise on the University’s growing research and educational activity in the agri-tech and food sectors, including food manufacturing, agri-robotics, agronomy and animal science. It will focus on the development of technologies to improve efficiency, sustainability and reduce waste throughout the food pipeline, from farm to retailer.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, says: “Productivity is a key aim for the UK Government and is vital to the success of our economy. The agri-food sectors are at the heart of our county of Lincolnshire and productivity lies at the heart of these sectors. Innovations in autonomous systems and robotics and other scientific innovations will drive that productivity.”

Around the world, approximately 800 million people – or one in nine – are chronically undernourished, according latest estimates by the United Nations, which has set the goal of ending world hunger by 2030.

Professor Andrew Hunter, the University’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Science, comments: “As populations grow, so the challenge in providing sufficient food will intensify.

“The University of Lincoln is in a unique position to develop this new interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to meeting this challenge. Our academic expertise and the exceptional nature of our facilities, including parkland, farmland, woodland and watercourses, alongside our food manufacturing centre and world class science laboratories, provide a major opportunity to contribute to this global cause.”

At the main Brayford Pool Campus, scientists, programmers and engineers from across the University’s College of Science will collaborate on projects, utilizing the state-of-the-art facilities in the centre of Lincoln. The National Centre for Food Manufacturing at Holbeach in southern Lincolnshire will continue to serve as the University’s gateway to the global food manufacturing industry, providing critical expertise on industry needs and hosting projects at its model food manufacturing plant.

While at the University’s Riseholme Campus, near Lincoln, the Institute will develop an agricultural field station for testing farm innovations, supporting training courses, crop trials, and experimentation, including in agri-robotics, water management and agronomy. Riseholme will also continue to provide an outstanding research resource for the University’s biologists, zoologists, animal behaviourists, forensic anthropologists and computer scientists.

Greene King recruits its 1,000th apprentice in 2015

Greene King has recruited its 1,000th apprentice this year, putting the company ahead of schedule in its pledge to recruit 2,000 apprentices in the year to March 2016.

Greene King, in partnership with national apprenticeship provider, Lifetime Training, has helped support over 5,500 apprentices since 2011, in its effort to promote opportunities for young people in the hospitality sector.

Luke Myers, 18 – the company’s 1,000th in question - works at the Yorkshire Grey pub in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire. Luke is a Greene King food production and cooking apprentice, balancing busy kitchen work alongside his academic studies. This training and work experience will help Luke to hone the skills necessary to progress more rapidly within Greene King from team member to general manager.

Luke says: “The apprenticeship route appealed to me because of the “learning on the job” aspect of the role. It has been hard work, but also a great opportunity to learn about what it takes to succeed in a professional kitchen and how to create a customer-friendly menu.”

Jane Connor, Greene King’s group HR director, comments: “Reaching our 1,000th apprentice this year is an important milestone for Greene King and the hospitality industry. Apprentices reduce team turnover, increase employee engagement and grow talent organically across all levels and departments. Greene King wants to play its part in combating the industry shortage of chefs and since last summer, more than 75% of all recruited apprentices have been for ‘back of house’ roles, including Luke who is working in the kitchen at the Yorkshire Grey pub.”

“As students across the country receive their A Level and GCSE results, it is important for them to be aware of the alternative education and career paths that exist outside of traditional education. At Greene King we want to support young people get that all-important first step on the career ladder. Apprenticeships provide learners with valuable skills which will help them to build a career. We offer opportunities to those of all ages and we hope that over the coming years we are able to further grow and develop the scheme.”

Direct Food Ingredients heads for transatlantic success with US opening

Direct Food Ingredients is consolidating its longstanding status as the market leader in ingredients distribution by opening an office in the USA.

The food, nutritional and sports ingredients distributor chose Los Angeles for its dedicated office and warehouse facility which will support the company’s international expansion plans.

Headed up by Abe Cortez, Vice President of the US office, the new base will focus on the sports nutrition and nutraceutical sectors. Direct Food Ingredients has built a strong position and reputation in the UK market. The expansion marks the company’s continuing success having recently announced a turnover of over £6 million in the first six months of trading this year.

Managing Director at Direct Food Ingredients, Steve Loake, comments: “Opening the new office is a huge achievement and an important step in our goal to bring our professionalism, stringent procedures and knowledge of this complex market overseas.

“Unfortunately many areas of the US market are driven by low quality imports from China so we are keen to bring our dedication to high standards and quality to the US.

“Over the past 20 years, we have become an industry leader in the UK and it is now time for us to expand overseas. The US is the ideal place to begin and we look forward to supplying customers with our impeccable ingredients from our vast portfolio.”

Hastings Freight upgrades their forklift fleet from Forkway

Hastings Freight, part of Palletways, Europe’s largest and fastest growing express palletised freight network, have made significant investment in updating their forklift fleet.

The firm, based in Barlborough, South Yorkshire, has taken delivery of five Yale VX LPG Counterbalance trucks, supplied by Forkway, one of the UK’s leading materials handling specialists. All feature techtronics transmission and an auto deceleration system (ADS) which automatically slows the truck when the throttle pedal is released. This action minimises brake usage, operator fatigue and reduces associated brake costs. The VX model also boasts improved tyre and fuel costs through controlled direction changes and most importantly, an anti-rollback feature, which was crucial for Hastings as the trucks will be used incline between two marshalling areas.

Alan Hastings, managing director at Hastings Freight, said the company is growing at a rate of around 22 per cent per year and the new forklifts will help the firm cope with increasing demand from their domestic and European freight customers. He comments: “We process some 1,400 pallets every day on behalf of our customers and have ambitious plans to increase this figure over the next few years.

“The fork lift investment is one of a number we have made over the past 12 months. We have built a new truck park, extended our warehouse to 40,000 sq ft, we are increasing the size of our offices and also need to recruit 11 new members of staff. This new fleet from Forkway will help us improve on what is an already efficient operation and we will continue to invest in our premises, plant and machinery for the benefit of our customers.”

Northern Ireland’s food and drink year-on-year sales increase 5.8%

Estimates hint that the food and drinks industry in Northern Ireland have increased to £4,772 million in 2014.

The 5.8% rise demonstrates an incremental year-on-year increase from 2013, with sales in the same sector rising by 6.8% from 2012. The results were compiled in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s annual report, Size and Performance of the Northern Ireland Food and Drinks Processing Sector, Subsector Statistics.

The report also states that the within the sales sector, beef, sheepmeat and milk products subsectors proved to be the largest in terms of gross turnover, for both 2012 and 2013, accounting for half of the sector’s total gross turnover for those years. The sector is reported to have contributed an estimated 3.8% to Northern Irelands’ total gross value added in 2013 alone.

It was also found that the sector’s share of external sales and employment of the manufacturing industry were also up. The overall proportion of total manufacturing sales and export sales, however, remained unmoved. The UK market remains Northern Ireland’s largest outlet, representing 43% of its total sales. The Republic of Ireland marked the most prevalent destination for its export sales at around 16% of total sales.

TCS&D conferences break the ice on big issues

This year’s free-to-attend Temperature Controlled Storage & Distribution (TCS&D) Show conference programme is packed with cool customers, and offers the chance for delegates to grill a panel of industry leaders on the challenges facing the sector.

The event – held on 16-17 September at the Peterborough Arena – will also feature more than 100 exhibitors supplying products and services for the perishable product supply chain, including big names such as Gray & Adams, Krone Trailers UK, Thermo King, Jungheinrich UK and SSI Schaefer. The conferences, held at the event’s 50-seater Seminar Theatre, sponsored by Carrier Transicold, will take place on a first-come, first-served basis, and do not require delegates to register.

Opening day one, Brian Young, Chief Executive of the British Frozen Food Federation, will offer his insight into the industry’s key trends, and explore the rise of home shopping. Later, CleanEarth Commercial Director Kevin McCormick details how renewable energy and targeting carbon offset can save on bills.

An F-Gas masterclass led by key executives, including Sainsbury’s Operations Support Manager Gary King, will dive into the challenges facing operators since the new regulations came into effect on 1 January 2015, while a panel of industry leaders will round out the day with a question and answer session.

The panel, which features speakers from earlier sessions and judges from the TCS&D Awards, which also take place during the two-day show, will discuss many pressing issues, including the future of transport refrigeration – and delegates are being encouraged to raise their hands and guide the discussion.

An in-depth industry update opens day two’s conferences, while later on a workshop on F-Gas regulations builds on the previous day’s discussions, as the race to find alternative refrigerants hots up.

As the day continues, Dearman’s Deputy Chief Executive Michael Ayres will detail the company’s zero-emission transport refrigeration system, which harnesses liquid nitrogen to deliver cost savings. Additional conferences will be announced in the coming weeks.

To register for the event, which is being held in conjunction with the Food Storage & Distribution Federation and the British Frozen Food Federation, visit

Paragon helps Noble Foods deliver 72 million eggs a week

Noble Foods, supplier of fresh eggs to the UK’s major retailers, has selected Paragon Software Systems’ Integrated Fleets planning solution as its strategic modelling tool of choice. The Paragon software will be used to help Noble Foods streamline its distribution operation which sees 72 million eggs being delivered every week.

In a retail egg market worth £900 million a year, Noble Foods operates seven days a week out of seven sites, collecting eggs from more than 470 locations throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Each week at its two packing centres in Lincolnshire and Fife, Noble Foods grades, packs and delivers more than 72 million eggs to major retailers and regional distribution centres.

With its fleet of more than 160 temperature controlled vehicles covering eleven million kilometres every year and consuming three million litres of fuel, Noble Foods needed to upgrade its manual fleet scheduling system which was managed locally for each region.

Following an intensive evaluation and decision process, Noble Foods selected Paragon’s Integrated Fleets planning solution, with INRIX-based road speed data and HERE map content, which includes bridge height data.

Paragon Integrated Fleets enables vehicles at multiple sites to be treated as a single integrated transport resource, so that movements to and from different depots can be combined into efficient routes that reduce overall empty running. It generates route plans with efficient backloads, which increases asset utilisation, improves productivity and reduces empty mileage.

The system enables Noble Foods to feed information into the Paragon routing and scheduling solution and make informed decisions about where each vehicle will be based, which vehicles will collect from which locations, and which will distribute to which outlets. It creates schedules for each region and it also allows the company to run theoretical models, taking into account its planned move to a new depot in Oxfordshire.

Further expansion and growth for DBL Logistics

Sheffield-based haulage and logistics company DBL Logistics will expand for the second time in two years after another record year for the firm.

DBL Logistics moved into its flagship £2million 33,550sqft Huntsman Depot in October 2013 in a deal supported by HSBC. Planning permission has now been secured for the second phase of the company’s expansion.

Phase two will see the company’s loading capacity double with the creation of a new loading bay and parking area at the rear of its depot on Tinsley Park Road.

Work will now commence on the development after the company secured a £300,000 finance package from HSBC.

The expansion comes after a period of sustained growth for DBL Logistics, with a 35% increase in sales for the financial year end in August 2013 to the year ending August 2014, and a projected further increase of 18% for the current financial year.

New UK dealer for Loadmac Truck Mounted Forklifts

Loadmac, the UK’s only manufacturer of Truck Mounted Forklifts, has teamed up with specialist lorry loader experts Plant Equipment.

Plant Equipment are based near Derby just off of Junction 28 of the M1. Established for over 30 years, with a well-equipped 10,000 sq feet modern installation workshop, Plant Equipment’s 26 staff supply, fit and service cranes for some of the biggest crane users in the UK so becoming the UK Sales and Service Dealer for Loadmac is the natural next chapter in Plant Equipment's success.

Nigel Crook, Managing Director of Plant Equipment, says, “We have an excellent reputation for offering innovative one stop shop”total solutions, so the Loadmac product fits greatly with our skills and resources. I personally embraced this opportunity and I am delighted to be working with Loadmac.”

Richard Williams, General Manager of Loadmac Truck Mounted Forklifts, has been heavily involved with assisting Plant Equipment to become the new UK sales and support operation. He says, “The combination of Plant Equipment’s modern installation workshop, engineers, and UK wide mobile service resource will take the support of Loadmac truck mounted forklifts in the UK to a new level.”

Plant Equipment engineers have been trained at the Loadmac factory in Herefordshire, where Loadmac truck mounted forklifts are manufactured and exported all over the globe, as well as manufactured for the home UK market.

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