Bucher Unipektin acquires Czech brewery equipment supplier

Bucher Unipektin is acquiring 100% of the Czech company Denwel, a supplier of specialised cold block equipment to breweries. With the acquisition, Bucher Unipektin – the supplier of beer filtration systems – further strengthens its beer processing capabilities and technologies. Denwel spol. s r.o., a privately held Czech company founded in 1997, designs, manufactures and installs specialised engineered cold block equipment for breweries and generated net sales of EUR 7 million in 2020. The company is located in Prague with a manufacturing site in Havlickuv Brod. Bucher Unipektin, a Swiss based business unit of Bucher Industries AG, is a manufacturer of systems and components for the juice industry and for the filtration of beer. The business unit is operating globally with production sites in Switzerland, Spain, Germany and China supported by a global distribution network and own sales and service organisations in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, New Zealand and Mexico. With this acquisition, Bucher Unipektin is in the position to supply its brewery customers with entire cold block processing lines, complementing its high-tech beer filtration systems with Denwel’s water deaeration, blending, carbonation, nitrogenation, dosing, CIP and flash pasteurization systems. All employees and the management team, which are already well-known to Bucher Unipektin through a three-year cooperation, will remain in place and operate under the new name Bucher Denwel spol. s r.o. providing an enhanced global after-sales service to its customers.

One of the UK’s largest food wholesalers acquired by investment firm

London-based investment firm RDCP Group has acquired SOS Wholesale, one of the largest food wholesalers in the UK for an undisclosed sum. RDCP has acquired Derby-based SOS Wholesale, a family run business founded in 1996 by Norman Beckett and his two sons Mark and Steven. The business is one of the UK’s largest wholesalers of foods and beverages, employing 120 staff from its 70,000 sq ft warehouse and distribution centre in Derby and sales office in Barnsley. Its product range extends across 4,500 lines, selling top brands including Mars Bars, Walkers Crisps, Heinz, Nescafe, Colgate, and Fairy, delivering its products range in the UK, and exporting worldwide. The existing management team led by Mark Beckett and Vipin Patara will work closely with RDCP founders, Sameer Rizvi and Iryna Dubylovska, on SOS Wholesale’s future growth strategy. This latest deal is RDCP’s eighth acquisition in the last 18 months, following its most recent takeover of Intelling in October 2021. RDCP now controls $400 million of investments across multiple sectors in the UK. Sameer Rizvi, founder & CEO of RDCP Group, said: “This is a major milestone for us at RDCP because the four acquisitions we completed last year combined with the organic growth of our existing portfolio companies has increased RDCP Group’s assets under management to $400 million. “We were extremely impressed by SOS Wholesale and their track record of success and varied customer base which includes major national retailers as well as independents. We look forward to working closely with Mark, Vipin and their team to grow the business further and have plans to expand SOS Wholesale both organically via increased sales channels, but also by bringing bolt-on acquisitions of smaller competitors.” Iryna Dubylovska, founder & chief strategy officer of RDCP Group, said: “This acquisition reflects our strong appetite to expand our presence across different sectors and I could not be prouder of our team and our advisors. “We have ambitious plans to grow our assets under management to $1 billion by 2025 and will continue to invest our growing balance sheet capital into promising British businesses that have a consistent and profitable trading history, committed and ambitious management teams and a defendable and dominant market position within their respective sectors.” Mark Beckett, Managing Director of SOS Wholesale, said: “Steven and I are proud to be a part of one of the UK’s fastest growing private conglomerates, RDCP Group. I am looking forward to continuing to work with Vipin Patara and our management team to grow the business further, whilst retaining the family values that have made us what we are today. “It is very much business as usual for our staff, customers and suppliers. We have worked hard to build an excellent reputation of delivering exceptional service and this will continue to be a focus for SOS Wholesale moving forward.” Vipin Patara, trading director of SOS Wholesale, said: “Over the past five years working with Mark and Steven, their passion and drive to grow the business has been contagious. It is a testimony to both Mark, Steven, and the SOS team to where the business has grown to today. “The future potential is exciting for both organic growth as well as new opportunities. I am really looking forward to working collaboratively with Sameer, Iryna, Mark and the entire SOS team to take SOS Wholesale to the next level.” Roy Farmer, corporate finance partner at Dains, added: “Having built a very successful business over the past 20 years, Mark and Steven decided approximately two years ago to create a succession plan in order to facilitate their retirement. Their goal was to realise the value that they had created to date and to ensure that the business was left in the hands of a buyer who would continue to further develop the business. “We worked closely with Mark and Steven to develop their exit plan, and as part of this process spent a considerable amount of time identifying an appropriate purchaser. Having received strong interest in the SOS Wholesale business from both trade and financial investors alike, we were attracted to RDCP as a buyer for a number of reasons. “RDCP’s model of being longer-term investors in businesses, backing strong incumbent management teams and retaining the stability and culture that is embedded within a business made them stand out from the more traditional private equity model, and we quickly realised the benefits of choosing RDCP as the long-term investor in SOS Wholesale. “I am delighted with the outcome we have achieved for Mark and Steven, which allows Steven to retire immediately and Mark to work alongside Vipin for a period of time. I am confident that SOS Wholesale, under the leadership of Mark and Vipin and the ownership of RDCP, will go from strength to strength.”

A new way of correctly exploring agri data

The world population is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050 according to the estimate shared by the United Nations. As a result, food production will need to grow by 56% compared to what it was in 2010, in order to support the needs of the growing population. Experts believe that agricultural production needs to be increased significantly over the coming years and agri data could hold the key to making this happen. In this article, we will share a new way of exploring agri data that will help the industry tremendously in the future. But first, let’s understand what agri data is and how it’s currently being used in the agricultural industry.

What is agri data and how it’s used today

Agri data refers to the collection of information from a wide range of sources that are used for tracking and optimising the supply chain in the agricultural industry. Big data analytics is becoming a crucial part of improving operations in just about every industry and agriculture is no exception. With the help of big data analytics, agri data can be analysed and integrated into actionable insights that can be used for forecasting, improving crop production, developing a better understanding of environmental challenges, and reducing waste, apart from improving efficiency and productivity within agribusinesses. Traditionally, agri data has been analysed in two ways:
  1. Dataset-centric, where the agri data is analysed by linking together compatible datasets for making better sense of the data that is available.
  2. Space-time-centric, where the datasets are analysed in relation to other important factors like location and time, in order to provide better insights than the dataset-centric approach.

A new way of exploring agri data

Experts are recommending a radical approach for exploring agri data, that’s a bit different from the traditional approaches that are being utilised predominantly in the agriculture industry today. This new and relatively underused approach is referred to as the domain-centric approach, where the agri data can be linked together with the real world tangible concepts of agriculture, such as a specific crop, livestock or food item. It’s being regarded as highly crucial for overcoming the kind of complex challenges that the future may hold for mankind, such as unpredictable weather changes, food shortages and supply chain issues. This new approach is expected to help the industry get better at ensuring end-to-end traceability, carbon accounting, and yield predictions. Moreover, it will save a significant amount of time for the users, while also flagging other pieces of information for them, that they may or may not have known as useful or relevant in their case. For example, when the users will look up a growing crop, the data model could also provide them with details of soil chemistry, weather forecast, satellite imagery, and drought risk calculation, among other pieces of information, that could potentially help them make better decisions.

What are the applications of this new approach of analysing agri data

Making drought predictions

Given that the vast majority of crop failures across the world are water-related, access to the important insights related to the availability of water supply, weather forecast, and the rate of evapotranspiration can help reduce crop failures significantly. This is only possible by following a domain-centric approach when it comes to analysing agri data.

Improving supply chain management

By closely tracking the various factors associated with the production, delivery and consumption of agricultural products, farmers and distributors can not only identify inefficiencies in the supply chains but also deliver their products faster and in a more cost-effective manner.

Transforming livestock care and production

It’s not uncommon for illnesses to spread quickly in a herd of cattle before farmers can even realise there is something wrong with them. By using this new approach of data analytics together with advanced sensors, farmers can not only prevent such problems but also monitor the fertility and periods of higher milk production, without much effort on their part.

Making better risk assessment

One of the most important applications of this new approach of data analysis and modelling would be to make farmers and agribusinesses better at risk assessment. With the help of IoT, drones, and satellite imagery, it’s now possible to collect and analyse various data points that can help everyone in the agricultural supply chain to reduce risk and consistently optimise for better outcomes.

Improving crop management

Without having access to data, even the most experienced farmers can sometimes have failed growing seasons, which can prove very costly for their business. With the help of bioprospecting, it becomes easier to identify and grow a variety of crops in a way that improves efficiency and reduces the margin of error, when it comes to crop management. Gone are the days when agriculture was mostly guesswork. By adopting newer ways of exploring agri data, it’s now possible to achieve what was unthinkable just a few decades before.

Bramble Foods secures minority investment from LDC

Mid-market private equity firm LDC has invested in Bramble Foods, a manufacturer and distributor of fine foods, to support its organic and acquisitive growth strategy. The partnership with LDC will enable the management team to consolidate Bramble’s market-leading position by investing in the company’s product portfolio and in-house manufacturing capabilities to drive further organic growth. LDC will also support acquisition opportunities to accelerate this strategy. Headquartered in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, Bramble manufactures and supplies more than 2,000 products, ranging from preserves, pickles, chutneys and sauces, to cakes, biscuits, confectionery, hampers and seasonal goods. Products are sourced from established external suppliers and an in-house manufacturing division which produces a range of preserves, chutneys, sauces and cakes. Founded in 2008, the family-run business has an extensive portfolio of 1,400 customers and supplies to a national base of independent, local retailers, and garden centres, farm shops and holiday parks. LDC is backing the existing management team, led by founder and CEO Tony Foster, alongside finance director Chris Neville and sales director Ken Osborne. As part of the transaction, co-founder Nigel Foster will retire to pursue other interests. Under their leadership, the business has delivered strong year-on-year growth. The investment was led by Rob Schofield, partner in LDC’s Midlands team alongside investment director Phil Hinson. A team from Orbis Partners, led by partner Gary Ecob and director Steve Nock, acted as lead advisors to Bramble. Tony Foster, CEO at Bramble Foods, said: “At the heart of Bramble is an unrivalled range of high-quality foods. Year on year we have increased our food production capabilities and invested in our personalisation service to offer unique bespoke products to our customers. LDC is the leading private equity firm in our region and we know our partnership with the team will help us to continue to grow our business into the future.” Rob Schofield, partner in LDC’s Midlands team, said: “Tony and his team have unrivalled experience and a real passion for delivering the highest level of service to their customers. It’s why Bramble is already one of the market-leading businesses in the sector. We’re excited to be supporting the team to deliver the next stage of their ambitious growth strategy.” Beth Mather at Gateley provided legal advice to LDC, with financial diligence provided by Ed Gray at Cooper Parry and commercial diligence provided by Michael Gell at Hullbrook. Dan Shilvock at Shoosmiths provided legal advice to Bramble.

A third of UK consumers willing to try lab-grown meat

A survey into public perceptions of emerging alternative proteins has revealed that a third of UK consumers would try cultured meat, and a quarter would try edible insects. It also revealed a greater number – 6 in 10 of us – are willing to try plant-based products many of which are already on the market. The Food Standards Agency research also highlights how important food safety is to consumers with it being the top factor in encouraging people to try lab-grown meat or edible insects. Assurance around food safety is already the main reason people are willing to eat plant-based proteins. The survey comes as the FSA reiterates its commitment to supporting food innovation, especially where there are potential benefits for dietary health, for protecting the environment or for boosting the UK economy. Alternative, or novel, sources of protein for human consumption are an emerging food and are mainly associated with plant proteins, insects and microorganisms. Highlights of the report include:
  • Awareness of alternative proteins is high amongst consumers, with 90% of respondents reporting that they had heard of plant-based proteins, 80% had heard of edible insects and 78% had heard of lab grown meat.
  • Over three quarters (77%) of respondents perceived plant-based proteins as being safe to eat compared to half (50%) for edible insects and 3 in 10 (30%) for lab grown meat.
  • Six in 10 respondents were willing to try plant-based proteins in their diet, the most common reasons were because they thought it was safe to eat (44%) and for health reasons (39%) or environmental or sustainability (36%) reasons. The biggest barrier to trying plant-based proteins was preference for traditional meats (36%).
  • Around a third (34%) were willing to try lab grown meat and just over a quarter (26%) willing to try edible insects. Environmental and sustainability were the most common reasons for trying lab-grown meat (40%) and edible insects (31%).
  • Respondents who were unwilling to try any of the alternative proteins tested were asked whether anything could encourage them to try it:
    • Two in five (42%) reported that nothing could encourage them to try lab grown meat, but over a quarter (27%) could be persuaded if they knew it was safe to eat and 23% if they could trust that it was properly regulated.
    • The majority (67%) reported that nothing could make them try edible insects. One in eight (13%) could be persuaded if they knew it was safe to eat and 11% if they looked appetising.
The FSA will be looking to bring together key industry stakeholders later this year to consider how businesses can be supported in entering this market and guide them through the FSA’s existing regulatory framework and risk analysis process for the introduction of new food products. Professor Robin May, FSA Chief Scientific Adviser, said: “Our priority is to protect consumer interests by ensuring food is safe and what it says it is through a robust scientific process. We recognise the potential of alternative proteins for improving dietary health and as part of a sustainable food system. “This important survey highlights that, while many consumers are considering trying alternative proteins, they will quite rightly only do so if they are confident that these products are safe and properly regulated. “Consequently, we are working closely with businesses and trade bodies to ensure they make effective use of the FSA’s existing regulatory framework so that consumers can benefit from innovative food products whilst still having full confidence in their safety.”

Spiroflow’s Cone Table Elite (CTE) is bulk bag filler of choice for the confectionery industry

Spiroflow’s industry-leading Cone Table Elite (CTE), a patented high speed bulk bag filler solution that delivers an industry leading densification of 10-20% more product fill per bag, is providing leading brands in the confectionery industry with an excellent return on investment. Aimed at both confectionery manufacturers and ingredient producers alike, the unique technology injects vibration energy directly into the bag, densifying and dispersing material in the bag, increasing weight per filled bag, increasing bag stability and bulk bag filling throughput. Given the huge volumes of ingredients used in confectionery manufacture, a reduction in shipping costs will provide the biggest cost benefit. A standard container can normally hold 22 bulk bags and is often shipped below the maximum allowable weight, when shipping low bulk density products or materials that are poorly densified. By using Spiroflow’s CTE bulk bag filler, more weight can be shipped on each container resulting in as much as a 20% reduction in shipping costs, the equivalent of 4 bulk bags per container saved. Savings can be made from having the ability to fill more material in each bag, reducing total bag usage or from being able to use shorter, lower cost bags. Typically, a 10% reduction in side-seam height can result in approximately 5% lower bag cost. Further cost reductions can be accrued in storage costs and floor space, due to needing fewer bags to hold the same amount of material. Being able to safely stack bags due to their more consistent, square, stable shape, with firmer flatter tops, also provides an additional benefit. To see Spiroflow’s CTE bulk bag filler in action visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCNGslQmL5E, or visit www.spiroflow.com/product/cte-bulk-bag-fillers/ to find out more. Spiroflow has been a global leader in the field of powder handling and dry bulk solids processing for more than 45 years. To learn more visit spiroflow.com, email sales@spiroflow.com or call +44 (0) 1200 422525 in the UK or (1) 704 246 0900 in the US.

Simmons Foods reveals $100 million expansion plans


Simmons Foods has revealed plans for a $100 million expansion of its prepared foods operation located at 2101 Twin Circle Drive in Van Buren, Arkansas.

Joel Sappenfield, president of Simmons Prepared Foods, said: “This investment will create 100 new jobs, including highly skilled positions to support robotics and automation processes. The expansion will also support growth in the local economy and assist in meeting market demand for one of the fastest growing segments of the business – cooked products.”

The project will add 65,000 square feet to the existing plant to make way for two new highly automated production and packaging lines. The plans also include enhanced interior spaces for team members and improved traffic flow in and around the site.

The company expects to break ground on the project this month and have production online by the first quarter of 2023. Nabholz Construction will serve as the general contractor on the build.

Sappenfield added: “We’re excited to build on our success in the region. Our River Valley team is an important part of our company’s total operations. We have three production locations here in the River Valley as well as a Hiring Center and a Simmons Care Clinic dedicated to providing medical care with no added co-pays exclusively for our team members and their covered dependents.”

Simmons currently employs approximately 600 full-time team members at this location. The operation consists of three production lines, producing approximately 110 million pounds of fully cooked, premium chicken products annually. The expansion will increase annual production capacity by approximately 100 million pounds.

Morrisons to scrap ‘use by’ dates from milk to reduce waste

From 31 January Morrisons will scrap ‘Use By’ dates on 90 per cent of its own brand milk – and encourage its customers to use a sniff test – to help to reduce food waste in the home. Morrisons anticipates the move will stop millions of pints of its own brand milk from being thrown away every year. ‘Use By’ dates will be scrapped from Morrisons own brand British and Scottish milks, Morrisons For Farmers milks and Morrisons organic milks in store – supplied into Morrisons by Arla farmers. Morrisons South West milk and The Best Jersey milk are yet to be converted. Morrisons will instead encourage its customers to use a simple sniff test to check if their milk is still good to consume. The milk packaging will show ‘Best Before’ dates to indicate to customers when they should drink it by – to get the best taste. Unlike some other fresh products, drinking milk after a ‘Best Before’ date is not a food safety issue. Milk is the third most wasted food and drink product in the UK, after potatoes and bread, with around 490 million pints wasted every year. And milk has the largest carbon footprint of these food and drink products because its production is so resource-intensive. One litre of milk can account for up to 4.5kg of CO2. Research shows fresh milk can often last a number of days past the ‘Use By’ date shown on the bottle. However UK customers are routinely throwing away milk – as they incorrectly believe the milk is unsafe to drink. WRAP estimates that 85 million pints of milk waste may be a result of customers sticking to ’Use By’ labels or ‘once opened use within’ guidance – when products may still be good to consume. Ian Goode, senior milk buyer at Morrisons, said: “Wasted milk means wasted effort by our farmers and unnecessary carbon being released into the atmosphere. Good quality well-kept milk has a good few days life after normal ‘Use By’ dates – and we think it should be consumed not tipped down the sink. So we’re taking a bold step today and asking customers to decide whether their milk is still good to drink. Generations before us have always used the sniff test – and I believe we can too.” Marcus Gover, CEO at WRAP, said: “I am delighted that Morrisons is the first UK supermarket to take this important step to help reduce household food waste – it shows real leadership and we look forward to more retailers reviewing date labels on their products and taking action. WRAP’s joint Best Practice with FSA and Defra is to only apply a ‘Use By’ date when required for food safety reasons. Applying a Best Before date to indicate quality on all other products means people have longer to use their food. Almost 300,000 tonnes of milk is wasted from UK homes each year, worth £270million, with the main reason being that it isn’t used in time. Making improvements to labelling forms an important part of WRAP’s efforts under the Courtauld Commitment 2030 to reduce household food waste. It is fantastic to see Morrisons, as a Courtauld signatory, making this change – giving people the confidence to use their judgment and consume more of the milk they buy.” Morrisons has already scrapped ‘Use By’ dates across some of its own-brand yogurt and hard cheese ranges in 2020.

BevExpo launches new initiative for drinks manufacturers in 2022

BevExpo’s new Taste Town showcases drinks manufacturers and their products, adding a new area to the existing exhibition and seminar spaces. With brands such as Decorrum and Skinny Brands already signed up to participate. The two-day trade-only event will be held at the Manchester Central Convention Centre in Manchester City Centre on the 7th and 8th June 2022. BevExpo is a free to attend, not for profit event which brings all sectors of the beverage industry together. It enables manufacturers, suppliers, and brand owners to meet, network, learn, and celebrate excellence throughout the supply chain. The Taste Town will be the social hub within the exhibition where both visitors and exhibitors can connect and network whilst sampling different drinks from both local and national brands. Open from 2.30pm each day the Taste Town will play host to brands from a variety of sectors such as beer, cider, soft drinks and more. Some of the biggest names in the beverage industry have acquired stand space within the exhibition at this year’s BevExpo, the 2022 exhibition line-up already includes Kegstar, Core Equipment and Microcan Ltd. Commenting on the super-sized event, Ruth Evans, Chief Executive at BFBi, said: “It is more important than ever before to deliver an event that adds value for all participants whether they are exhibitors or visitors. After a tough 2 years, the expo is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever, with a full seminar and workshop programme alongside the new Taste Town, bringing drinks manufacturers into the fold and adding a new link to the chain. She added: “Crucially, because BevExpo is about the sharing of knowledge as much as the promotion of products and services, our two-day workshop and seminar programme will cover ‘hot topics’ and be delivered by industry experts from different sectors. This helps the entire industry to learn from each other and uncover exciting opportunities during a period of innovation and transformation. “With BevExpo one of the most important dates in the calendar for everyone involved in the beverage sector, our message to anyone who hasn’t yet signed up is to do so fast. You don’t want to miss the chance to get your brand in front of hundreds of senior delegates!” As well as exhibitors, visitors planning to attend BevExpo 2022 are also being encouraged to pre-register and secure their free pass. A new event app will be launched in early 2022. This handy tool allows registered visitors to interact with each other and exhibitors prior to the event and will have everything they need at their fingertips. The launch of the event app is part of the new BevExpo’s sustainability programme. Links to exhibitor and visitor registration, details of the new Taste Town, and floorplan can be found at www.bevexpo.com.

Easyfairs announces new May dates for 2022 edition of Packaging Innovations & Empack at the NEC, Birmingham

Global event organiser Easyfairs today announces that Packaging Innovations & Empack 2022, the biggest annual event driving innovation and investment in the UK packaging sector, will be postponed from its current February 2022 dates to new dates of 25 & 26 May 2022. The decision to postpone the event has been made in consultation with the event’s many partners, exhibitors and the community as a whole. It is a result of the impact of the recent and rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus, which has led to new recommendations relating to home working and significant new travel restrictions for overseas participants in the event. This combination of circumstances makes it impossible to plan for a successful event in February. With its new dates in May, the 2022 edition of Packaging Innovations & Empack will continue to be the essential event giving a vision of the future and driving investment and innovation decisions across the whole packaging journey. Packaging Innovations will connect packaging technologists, designers and buyers with more than 200 of the market’s leading suppliers of primary and secondary packaging materials and related technologies. Empack will bring together directors at packing and filling operations with more than 40 of the market’s key technology suppliers. Three conference stages will bring the latest thinking on the key issues in packaging development and processing; while a host of features and networking initiatives will ensure visitors find the partners and products that will define their next projects. Easyfairs is confident that moving the dates of Packaging Innovations & Empack 2022 to May is the best way to ensure a successful event that will continue to connect and inspire the whole packaging community that it serves. The event will be held at the same venue as originally planned, in Hall 1 at the NEC in Birmingham. Renan Joel, Divisional Director for Easyfairs’ packaging events in the UK and France, comments: “It is our mission to run fantastic events that connect the packaging community, drive innovation and business and give a truly inspiring vision of the future. “We want to ensure that the next edition of Packaging Innovations & Empack at the NEC does this and moving the event to May will give the whole community the best chance of having the event it deserves. “I would like to thank all the stakeholders in our event – exhibitors, associations, media and visitors – for their support for the change in dates. We can’t wait to bring them all together in May and help them drive their innovations for the year to come.”