LATEST ARTICLES

Wine company fined £800k after HGV driver killed

A wine and drinks supplier has been fined after a visiting HGV driver was killed after being hit by a forklift truck at its depot in Salford. John Fitzpatrick was waiting for his trailer to be loaded at Kingsland Drinks Ltd in Irlam on 19 August 2020 when tragedy struck. The 59-year-old, form Oldham, suffered serious head injuries in the incident and died in hospital having never regained consciousness. In a victim personal statement read out at Manchester Magistrates Court, his partner Paula Fitzpatrick, said how his death had affected their family. “I cannot really explain what we have lost without describing the kind of person John was,” she said. “John was a joyful character, full of life, and often described as the life and soul of the party. “He would talk to anyone and I would often lose him for a couple of hours when he went to the local shop as he would be talking to all the neighbours on the way. “He was that kind of person – a very hardworking man who would do all the DIY around the house and that included all the family’s odd-jobs. “At the time of his death, we were planning how our future would look.” An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed in a number of areas. The risk assessment was out of date and not fit for purpose, and there was no pedestrian and vehicle segregation in place in the loading area. Visiting drivers were not given clear information about site safety. At a sentencing hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 25 January, Kingsland Drinks Ltd of The Winery, Fairhills Road, Irlam, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. They were fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,614.30. Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sharon Butler said: “This death would have been prevented if clear controls had been in place for visiting drivers. “Companies who have loading areas need to provide information and instructions to visiting drivers and have clear segregation in place to ensure the site is safe for all who use it. “Easy steps can be taken to reduce the risk of visiting drivers becoming injured on site.”

Loughborough University spinout closes seed investment round to take nanotech solution to the drinks industry

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Loughborough University spinout Figura Analytics has successfully closed a seed funding round, led by a syndicate of angel investors, to bring its nanopore technology to the drinks market this year.
Taking equity in the high potential start up, in return for cash and know-how, the high-net-worth ‘angel’ individuals join SFC Capital in backing Figura to enable drinks manufacturers to rapidly and accurately detect abnormalities and contaminants through the production process, saving them time and money. Founded in 2021 by Chemistry researchers Dr Mark Platt and PhD graduate Dr Rhush Maughi, Figura has been on a fast track since launching in LUinc., the University’s incubator on its science and enterprise park, LUSEP. Following a highly successful first year building prototypes, testing and validating them in industry, Figura has just launched its new testing service for drinks manufacturers. This year will see the first commercial customers take delivery of this innovative hardware and software solution. Jason Druker, investment manager at SFC, said: “We have been delighted with the progress that Figura has made since our initial investment in 2021. This follow-on investment will see the commercial launch of their technology to the drinks market, as well as the continued R&D that is required to ensure a successful long-term business.” Nick Whitehurst, Figura CEO, said: “We are delighted to have received the backing of our existing and new investors as we bring our new analytical technology platform to market in 2023. The team have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to validate and pilot our solution in industry and this investment is testament to their hard work and dedication.” Professor Dan Parsons, pro vice chancellor, research and innovation at Loughborough, said: “Congratulations to the team and Figura on securing this investment for the commercial roll out of their innovations. The team continues to grow on its LUSEP base, creating a suite of new high quality skilled jobs in the region. This is great news for Figura, the University, the local economy, the drinks manufacturing sector and UK innovation more broadly. I share their excitement for the future.”

Tesco to use discarded plastic from coastal areas in fresh fish packaging

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Plastic waste such as drinks bottles, which is at risk of getting into the sea, is now being collected and recycled and used again in Tesco’s fresh fish packaging. 

Next week sees many of the supermarket’s fresh Salmon, Haddock, Cod and Sea Bass lines sold for the first time in trays that contain at least 30% Recycled Coastal Plastic collected from beaches, coastlines, and coastal communities around the Mediterranean Sea. 

The move into the new packaging is expected to remove around 500 metric tonnes of plastic from the environment each year and reduce the amount of ‘virgin plastic’ required in the packaging. 

The plastic waste consisting of Polypropylene, PET, Polyethylene, and other types of plastic, is collected from at-risk coastal areas such as beaches, and coastal communities within 10 km from the sea, thus prevented from entering the Mediterranean Sea by wind, rain or floods.  

Collection and processing is undertaken with full transparency and traceability and certified by the non-profit organisation Keep Sea Blue which works with and connects organisations across the supply chain from collection to reuse in new packaging.   

The plastic is recovered initially by a network of collectors across the Mediterranean, including volunteer groups involved in beach clean-ups, local authorities, non-profits, and the private sector. The PET share of the waste is then carefully sorted, grinded, washed and recycled and goes back into food-grade packaging materials.  

Through its customised Blockchain Platform, powered by Oracle Blockchain technology, the organisation monitors and certifies the circularity of plastics ensuring full material traceability. 

Sarah Bradbury, Tesco quality director, said: “Where we can, we are reducing the amount of new plastic we use in our business. Re-using coastal plastic in our fish packaging is one way we can do that and at the same time keep it out of the oceans.”

Lefteris Bastakis, founder, Keep Sea Blue, said: “Mismanaged plastic waste can only be solved by many partners working together. We are glad that Tesco is making a meaningful and active contribution to this programme towards protecting the Mediterranean Sea from plastic pollution and building a more sustainable future.”

Scottish food producers receive funding to make their recipes healthier

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To support Scotland’s food and drink producers’ aims to make everyday food healthier, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland has provided funding to 13 well-loved food businesses. Biscuits and confectionery manufacturers Aldomak, Border Biscuits and Dean’s of Huntly have been awarded funding. While a whole range of meat and butchery producers – including Bells Food Group, Hunters of Kinross, Macsween of Edinburgh, Malcolm Allan and Simon Howie – have received support. In addition, funding has been provided to Growers Garden who make broccoli crisps; free from snacks manufacturers Fodilicious; ingredient suppliers Cardowan Creameries and R&W Scott; and farm shop the Smiddy. This round of support from the Reformul8 Challenge Fund was made possible due to £50,000 of funding received from the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership Recovery Plan – supported by the Scottish Government. FDF Scotland will be supporting food producers with a breadth of projects from salt reduction, fat reduction, fibre enrichment and sugar reduction. The fund will be used for a wide range of activities. This includes accessing nutritional testing and technical support, working with ingredient suppliers to access and trial new innovative solutions – that can improve the health of products, to developing new marketing and promotional materials. Joanne Burns, Reformulation for Health Manager, FDF Scotland, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to provide a third round of funding to help even more food producers make their recipes healthier. To date we have rewarded funding to 45 food businesses across Scotland. “I can’t wait to start working on these interesting projects with some of Scotland’s well-loved producers. Together we will be helping to make everyday food including biscuits, crisps, pies and haggis healthier. This in turn will improve the dietary health in communities across Scotland.”

Sustainability takes centre stage as IFE seminar programme launches

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The seminar programme for IFE, International Food & Drink Event, is now live, with this year’s event putting the issue of sustainability at the heart of discussions on a dedicated Sustainability Stage, sponsored by Elopak. Taking place on 20-22 March at ExCeL London and supported by Official Show Sponsor MHP Food Ltd, IFE is the UK’s most comprehensive showcase of food & drink suppliers, delivering high quality and effective business connections for the retail, wholesale and hospitality sectors. In addition to thousands of innovative UK food & drink products, this year’s event will also feature suppliers representing over 90 countries from around the world, including the United States, Australia, Ethiopia, Brazil, Romania and Japan. The Sustainability Stage, sponsored by Elopak New for 2023 is the Sustainability Stage, sponsored by Elopak, which will see a wide range of speakers take a deep dive into a plethora of issues under the banner of ESG, reflecting the diverse range of talking points within this important topic. A full day of content will be curated by key event partner the Food & Drink Federation, who have gathered together an unrivalled selection of speakers to delve into topics such as building resiliency into our food systems, achieving net zero, meeting evolving customer expectations, the transition to a circular economy for plastics and packaging and what ‘green skills’ are needed by the eco-conscious workforce of tomorrow. FDF Head of Climate Change & Energy Policy Emma Piercy comments: “The FDF is delighted to be partnering with IFE for their inaugural Sustainability Stage at this world class event. “Global food systems make up around one quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Bringing all stakeholders together and collaborating at IFE is essential to building the resilient and sustainable food systems we need.” Alongside curating a members’ pavilion within IFE’s Chilled & Frozen section, event partners the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) will be taking to the stage to discuss sustainability innovators within the frozen food sector, and how frozen food can pave the way to a more sustainable supply chain. BFFF Chief Executive Rupert Ashby comments: “We are very much looking forward to discussing what sustainability means for the frozen food industry. Sustainability is at the top of the agenda for nearly all of our members at present with important target dates now appearing over the horizon.” Another must-attend session will take a close look at how upskilling employees in sustainability best practices can lead to a lower carbon future for the industry. Panellist Ben Goodwin, Head of Policy at the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), says: “I’m delighted to be shining a light on the importance of green skills development throughout the food and drink sector. The sector will play a big part in our transition to a cleaner economy, so ensuring that those individuals working within it are ready to deliver is critical. This is a fantastic opportunity for discussion on how we drive this agenda forwards.” Venture capital firm Mission Ventures is teaming up with Urban Health for an in-depth discussion around the role the food & drink industry is playing in improving the health of the nation, from ingredients and ethical supply chains to issues such as branding and advertising and legislation such as HFSS. Mission Ventures Managing Director Louis Bedwell says: “I’m really excited to be speaking on the Sustainability Stage at this year’s event and I’m delighted that healthier food and innovation has such a strong platform. There’s brilliant progress being made in our industry, and I hope this event will shine a light on the entrepreneurs driving this change.” The Trends & Innovation Platform The Trends & Innovation Platform, sitting within IFE’s sister event IFE Manufacturing, is set to feature a wide array of presentation and discussions for anyone eager to further their food & drink industry knowledge and gain key insights to drive profits and business growth. Across the three days of the event visitors will have the opportunity to see FMCG Gurus unveil the results of their Price Sensitivity Survey, examining the changing shopping habits of consumers, Kantar discuss the rise of discount retailers and what this means for the future of grocery, thefoodpeople’s Charles Banks talk through some of the most exciting food technologies in 2023, and much more. A must-attend session on the Trends & Innovation Platform is an examination of how the food sector should be managing the question of allergens. Hosted by Bertrand Emond of Campden BRI and featuring Pret A Manger Senior Technical & Safety Manager Anita Kinsey, this session will be an insightful look at how foodservice, food brands and manufacturers can work to protect consumers and establish clear and consistent allergen messaging. Emond comments: “I’m looking forward to leading the discussion on allergens. This is a complex topic and it’s hugely important that food & drink brands and foodservice businesses ensure they are meeting legal standards and following best practices when it comes to managing allergens responsibly and accurately conveying information around allergens to consumers.” To view the full seminar programme for IFE 2023, and to register for your complimentary trade ticket, head to ife.co.uk.

Peckwater Brands acquires competitor eatclever

Peckwater Brands, the operator of virtual food brands, has acquired eatclever, the virtual delivery brand market leader in the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). Peckwater operates delivery-only food brands from more than 500 unique locations across nine countries: UK, US, France, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Czechia, and the UAE. The UK company will take over eatclever’s operations in almost 100 restaurants across the DACH region, expanding their presence into three new countries across Europe. Peckwater will add Hamburg-based eatclever’s food brands to its portfolio, including taste&soul, Chicos, and KoChi (Korean Fried Chicken). Since launching in 2019, Peckwater has built an offering of virtual food brands (food brands that are found only on third-party delivery aggregators like Deliveroo and Just Eat), powered by a data-driven software solution, which are prepared in kitchens around the world in tandem with their regular offering. Peckwater’s licensed brands span several categories including fried chicken (Seoul Chikin, Flip the Bird, Katsu), burgers (Dukes, Proper Tasty) and Central American (Papi Taco, Fiesta Mexico, Rebel Rito), while they have run shared brands with partners such as Unilever, Buzzfeed, and Heinz. This takeover is Peckwater’s second European acquisition in the past five months, following the onboarding of the Honest Food Company in September. Its international expansion has been fuelled in part by the £15 million Series A funding round the company completed in June 2022, backed by Stonegate Group, SBI Investments, Fuel Ventures, and Pembroke VCT, bringing the company’s post-money valuation to £65 million. Sam Martin, CEO and co-founder of Peckwater, said: “This is such an exciting development for us. With eatclever, we have acquired the virtual brand delivery market leader across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, which is a tremendous opportunity to increase our presence in central Europe, and we’re thrilled to bring eatclever’s excellent selection of brands under the Peckwater umbrella. “In the past 12 months we’ve greatly accelerated our international expansion, boosted by our Series A funding round last summer. We’re now in seven new markets and working with hundreds of new clients – kitchen operators across Europe. The DACH market is a promising new arena for us, and this acquisition further cements our position as Europe’s leading virtual food brand operator. “Our team has been working tirelessly to make our growth plans a reality, showing extraordinary commitment and insight while executing our strategy. I’m really proud of what they have achieved, and we anticipate more exciting developments and success in 2023, so watch this space.”

Kason fluid bed processor upgrade offers more drying control

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Kason has upgraded its popular VIBRO-BED fluid bed processor with new features designed to regulate pressure and temperature more efficiently for faster material drying and increased throughput. Fluid bed processors dry, moisturise, heat or cool bulk material by causing it to vibrate on a screen or perforated surface within a rising column of heated, chilled or moisturised air. In addition to faster drying, Kason’s upgraded controls make it easier for operators with minimal training to run batch or continuous material processing. “This upgrade makes one of the industry’s most energy- and cost-efficient fluid bed dryers even better,” said Seth Vance, CEO of Advanced Material Processing, Kason’s parent company. “Along with further improving performance to help decrease processing time, the ability to record operational data and troubleshoot issues remotely in real-time helps minimise downtime for an even greater return on investment.” Kason’s updated VIBRO-BED dryer also offers customers: ● An energy-efficient circular design that utilises 100% of surface area to optimise airflow for faster drying, less waste and a more consistent product. ● Eight compact models ranging from 610 to 2125 mm (24 to 84 in.) in diameter that provide fast, cost-effective installation and conserve valuable floor space. ● A remote control-enabled PLC panel with HMI screen to control temperature and optimise energy use. ● Lighter materials and fewer welded seams to reduce cleaning and maintenance costs. ● Configurations for scalping, de-dusting, agglomerating or de-agglomerating materials while they are dried, cooled or moisturised to save on the cost of operating separate equipment. To find out more about Kason’s VIBRO-BED processor, visit https://www.kason.com/fluid-bed/

Spiroflow’s new FSC agitator offers improved operator access

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Global powder handling and dry bulk solids processing specialist, Spiroflow, has re-designed its existing Flexible Screw Conveyor (FSC) agitator with an updated version that can be easily dismantled in place for cleaning. The new design can also be retrofitted to existing machines in place of the current standard agitator unit. Used to ensure a consistent flow of product, the agitator can be fitted as an optional extra on Spiroflow FSCs when needed and used to break down bridging material in the flexible screw inlet. Many products being conveyed are not free-flowing, so the agitator helps to create material flow within the equipment. Spiroflow’s standard agitator design has been in use for over 20 years and required the use of tooled intervention to remove it and take it apart; the new version can be easily stripped down and reassembled in situ safely as required. “In certain situations, it’s important for our customers to have the ability to quickly strip down the agitator to be cleaned by the operator safely, and without the use of tools,” said Spiroflow’s Chris Brennan, technical sales manager. “With the new agitator design, all access is protected by safety interlocks and the gearbox and motor remain in place. There is no need to have plugs and sockets or heavy lifting to facilitate its removal, so cleaning to be done on the line, thereby saving time in the process. The additional benefit of the new agitator is that it can be retrofitted to existing FSCs.” Spiroflow is a global manufacturer of material handling equipment and a provider of control systems integration. The company has achieved significant growth in both the US as well as the UK, where the business was founded and maintains one of its key facilities. With installations in more than 50 countries, Spiroflow’s technology is known for its safety, efficiency and reliability, serving some of the most demanding material handling applications. Under the platform of Automated Handling Solutions (AHS), the company has recently partnered with US conveyor manufacturer, Cablevey Conveyors, to facilitate a differentiated and unrivalled product portfolio to global customers. For more information on Spiroflow, visit www.spiroflow.com/.

Seafood business enters administration after abrupt plant closure

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Cook & Lucas Frozen (UK) Limited has entered administration. The company is an established importer, processor and supplier of seafood and whitefish, operating a smokehouse and processing plant in Grimsby. On 10 January 2023, the company abruptly closed its plant in Grimsby, with approximately 80 members of staff being laid off. Following this unannounced closure, the company’s secured lender took steps to protect its position and sought the appointment of the joint administrators – James Clark and Howard Smith from Interpath Advisory. James Clark, Managing Director at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator, said: “Given the circumstances surrounding our appointment, our immediate priority is to take steps to secure the company’s assets, while seeking to gather further information about the company’s financial position.”

South Mill Champs opens its largest single-site mushroom farm

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South Mill Champs, one of North America’s largest growers and suppliers of fresh mushrooms and mushroom products, has opened a new state-of-the-art farm in Oxford, Pa. The new facility will be one of North America’s largest single-site mushroom farms and one of the largest phase 3 composting operations. The grand opening marks the completion of the first phase of the multi-year, multi-phase farm and compost operation buildout. “Mushrooms are continuing to surge in popularity as consumers become more proactive about their health,” said Lewis Macleod, CEO of South Mill Champs. “As a company, we’ve experienced tremendous success on the fresh side of the business and we have grown our portfolio of mushroom-forward food products to align with consumers’ needs as they aim to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. Increased production will support existing and planned growth across all customer channels.” Industry-leading technological advancements and processes will be implemented at the new facility, including automated and environmentally efficient climate control and watering systems. Modern growing processes and systems will provide increased product quality while reducing the possibility of cross-contamination and other human contact variables. These process and technological advancements will improve controls and the cold chain at all stages of production, resulting in improved mushroom production yields and a premium product. “We’ve been innovating since the beginning,” said Mike Pia Jr., VP of Business Growth at South Mill Champs. “Our family has been producing compost and growing mushrooms for over 90 years in Pennsylvania. “Our approach is, and has always been, to stay nimble and adapt to new technologies as they become available and proven. There is a growing demand for fresh quality produce, and we want to meet that demand with the best product possible for our partners and, ultimately, the consumer. This new facility will allow us to do just that.” The facility build was contracted to local construction partners with experience in the mushroom industry. The steel used in the structural construction of the facility was sourced directly from Pennsylvania steel mills. In addition, South Mill Champs added over one hundred harvesting and operational jobs upon completion of phase one of this multi-year build out. Green initiatives, including solar panels and water reducing processes and technologies, are being implemented at this facility in line with the company’s commitment to sustainability and water stewardship. Once fully implemented, on an annual basis, the facility will generate the majority of its electricity from a renewable source, capture and reuse millions of gallons of rain and wastewater, and upcycle thousands of tons of agricultural byproducts and other waste materials in the making of compost.