RMGroup and ABB Robotics UK to hold interactive workshop

Leading packaging machinery and robotic automation specialist, RMGroup, in collaboration with ABB Robotics UK, is holding an interactive workshop providing guidance on the constantly changing robotics and automation landscape. The event is being held on 30 March at ABB’s Milton Keynes headquarters – register for the workshop here. As an ABB Valued Provider, RMGroup will be using the workshop to update on the latest innovations, best practices and new technology solutions evolving in robotics and automation. There will be talks from leading industry experts, live demonstrations of applications utilising industrial and mobile robots (AMRs/AGV) including palletising, pick and place, material handling and storage operations, in addition to a myth-busting round table discussion and networking opportunities. Lunch and refreshments will also be provided. As hosts, ABB Robotics will be taking the opportunity to provide delegates with a history of the company, the value they place on their longstanding 15-year partnership with RMGroup, and how its technology drives innovation and value for their customers every day. Being one of the world’s leading robotics and machine automation suppliers, ABB will also provide an opportunity to tour its extensive product range. Commenting on the event, RMGroup’s managing director, Mark Tucker, said: “With robotics and automation becoming increasingly integrated into the workplace, it’s more and more important to ensure that we have a collective understanding of the changing landscape in front of us and the opportunities that robotics and automation can provide. It’s equally important that we challenge some of the misconceptions surrounding robotics and automation so that we are all conversant with the technology and its application.” Being the first integrator in the UK to be accredited under the A3/BARA Robot Integrators Certification Scheme, RMGroup supplies and manufactures a wide range of manual and automated packaging systems. These include robot palletising systems, pallet wrapping and material handling systems, as well as supplying a wide range of bagging solutions, weighing systems and high-speed form fill and seal packaging lines. Their ongoing partnership with ABB Robotics UK means that they can offer a fully automated solution for fulfilment, distribution and manufacturing kitting operations. To register for the workshop click here. Visit here for more information on RMGroup’s AMR and AGV solutions, email sales@rmgroupuk.com, or call +44 (0)1686 948003.

Cornish pasty maker acquired by French group

Renowned makers of Cornish pasties and savoury pastries, Proper Cornish, has joined Groupe Boncolac. Proper Cornish, which operates from a newly refurbished 58,000 sq ft bakery in Bodmin, Cornwall has been supplying quality Cornish pasties and other savoury pastries to a wide range of markets since 1988 either under the Proper Cornish brand or as own label. Their extensive customer base consists of a major retailer, a wide range of independent retailers, specialist pasty shops, education sector, sporting stadia, major contract caterers and wholesalers. With a current turnover of £26m there are exciting growth plans for Proper Cornish, which will now be possible following the acquisition by Groupe Boncolac. New markets will open up to Proper Cornish, including across Europe. The existing senior management team at Proper Cornish will remain in place to help deliver the growth plans. The Groupe Boncolac has been supplying quality desserts and cocktail bites since the 1950’s from four factories in France. Their products are sold in France and in over 30 countries to all channels, including retail, freezer centres, and foodservice. The United Kingdom has always been a strong focus for their development, and they established Boncolac Ltd in 2015 to grow their operations in the UK, serving both retailers and foodservice distributors. In 2022, Boncolac management conducted, together with Waterland Private Equity, a leverage buy-out to become a fully independent Group, with an ambition of building a pan-European leader of frozen snacks and desserts. In September 2022, they made their first acquisition of Mag’M, a French specialist of premium Macaroons based in Nantes. Chris Pauling, MD of Proper Cornish, said: “Since 1988 we’ve worked hard to build Proper Cornish to where it is today, and we just know there is so much more potential. As a founding member of Proper Cornish, I was extremely keen to ensure we found the right partner to take the Company to the next level, and I’m confident that Groupe Boncolac is that partner; their brand and people ethics, and their product quality reflect those of Proper Cornish, so I’m really excited for the future of Proper Cornish.” Alexandre Vigneron, CEO of Groupe Boncolac, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Proper Cornish Ltd within the Groupe Boncolac. I have been impressed by the quality of the Proper Cornish management team, as well as the great product positioning with respect to the traditional manufacturing techniques. We are looking forward to starting a fruitful collaboration between our companies in the UK and abroad.”

Industry insights and new product innovation on show as IFE prepares to return

IFE, International Food & Drink Event, returns to ExCeL London on 20-22 March alongside IFE Manufacturing and Hotel, Restaurant & Catering. The must-attend trade event invites retail, wholesale and hospitality professionals to network, learn and discover the latest products in the world of food & drink. This year’s edition will showcase thousands of products from more than 1,500 suppliers, with over 90 countries represented and countless innovative UK brands. Freya O’Mara, buying manager – Cheese at Ocado Retail, says: “We are looking to come to IFE as an Ocado Dairy and Bakery team – it’s really important for us to make sure we are at the forefront of product trends and innovation and attending IFE will enable us to network, see new products and people and get excited about future innovation.” New for 2023 A new feature at IFE 2023 is the Startup Market, an area of the show comprised of businesses trading for less than two years and showcasing new product innovation from across the UK. The market will showcase suppliers including Saved, the cricket protein snack brand, Fermenti, supplier of plant-based fermented fruit bites, and Pukpip, provider of indulgent frozen snacking products including real frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. Alongside the Startup Market is the New Products Tasting Theatre, a demo kitchen where buyers will have the opportunity to sample the latest new products, explore the ranges of key distributors and wholesalers including Bidfood, Empire Bespoke Foods and Alibaba.com, taste a showcase of gold winners from the Free From Awards, and attend IFE’s Big Business Break with Surya Foods, where innovative brands will be pitching their product for the chance to secure up to half a million pounds in investment and support. Matt Buckingham, Buyer – Confectionery at Marks & Spencer, says: “I am planning to attend IFE this year as it gives buyers a unique opportunity to meet suppliers from all over the world and see (and taste!) fantastic innovation in the flesh. This exposure to newer suppliers that we may not have previously been aware of does not come regularly and it is a great networking opportunity for prospective suppliers that are interesting in working with one of the most recognisable brands in the UK.” In IFE’s Exporters Hub, sponsored by K International, powered by the Institute of Export & International Trade, international buyers will have the opportunity to quickly and efficiently source export-ready food & drink brands with infrastructure in place for international sales. Among the numerous new products on offer at this year’s event are a range of British-produced pizza toppings from Action Foods, AVO’s Lafiness Korean Barbecue Style Marinade, Vitafresh Sedge Grass Straws from Vitafresh Produce, a new Vegetable Fibre Paste from TheFlexitarian, and The English Drinks Company’s all-new Cucumber Vodka. Insights from industry leaders New for 2023 is IFE’s Sustainability Stage, sponsored by Elopak, where industry leaders and ESG experts will delve into a wide range of issues within this important topic. Visitors can attend sessions including a look at sustainability in the frozen food sector with Rupert Ashby of the British Frozen Food Federation, a discussion on sustainability in wholesale led by James Bielby of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, a debate on the health of the nation moderated by Louis Bedwell of Mission Ventures and ‘Sustainability begins with the board’ led by Rob Iles of Visionise. The stage will additionally have a full day of content curated by the Food & Drink Federation, featuring debates on topics such as decarbonising our food systems, meeting evolving customer expectations, the transition to a circular economy for plastics and packaging and what ‘green skills’ are needed for the industry to achieve net zero. The show’s Trends & Innovation Platform will see presentations and discussions from the likes of Kantar, thefoodpeople, IGD, FDReviews, FMCG Gurus and Stylus, on topics including active nutrition, emerging food technologies, future world flavour trends, consumer price sensitivity, and the rise of the discount retailers in the UK. The stage will also see a discussion on how the industry can work to champion black-owned brands, led by Silika Shellie-Manso, Director of Innovation (Grocery) at Sainsbury’s, and a debate around managing allergens across the supply chain let by Bertrond Emond, Membership Ambassador & Culture Excellence Lead at Campden BRI. To find out more about everything happening at IFE 2023, and to register for your complimentary trade ticket, visit ife.co.uk.

Carlsberg Group plans expanded regenerative barley usage

Carlsberg Group is forging ahead in its global move towards regenerative farming. The beer giant is taking strides with three pioneer brands in the UK, Finland and France, on its journey towards 100% regenerative agricultural practices by 2040. The brand commitments form part of the Group’s new ZERO Farming Footprint ambition within its recently launched ESG programme, Together Towards Zero and Beyond. Within this, the Danish brewer has committed to sourcing 30% of all agricultural raw materials from regenerative practices and sustainable sources globally by 2030, reaching 100% by 2040. Through some of its most demanding targets yet, Carlsberg Group hopes that working toward and delivering on this new ambition will help accelerate the beer industry’s transition to a regenerative model. And while rethinking the ‘farm to bottle’ process is a challenging journey, requiring multiple stakeholder alignments and value chain reconfigurations, the early examples emerging in the UK, Finland and France are encouraging:
  • In the UK, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has committed to 100% regenerative barley for Carlsberg Danish Pilsner by 2027, and for all UK brands by 2031.
  • In Finland, partner farmers are supplying regenerative barley to Sinebrychoff, a Carlsberg Group company, for its annual KOFF Christmas Beer, while actively promoting regenerative farming among Finnish barley farmers.
  • In France, Kronenbourg SAS already has 45 partner farmers supplying traceable ‘Responsible Barley’, and the 1664 brand has committed to use this for 100% of the barley in its Blonde brews by 2026. As a brand holding 10% of the French beer market, 1664 will help to pivot the local industry in a new direction.
Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, senior director of sustainability & ESG for Carlsberg Group, says: “We cannot reach our targets alone. Partnerships are vital across the value chain, which is why we are collaborating closely with local farmers, traders, maltsters, agronomists and NGOs who provide expertise in the transition to regeneratively grown barley. “Over time this will allow us to offer our consumers and customers lower-carbon beers and contribute to improving the ecosystems we rely on. We will cooperate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that we as a company and our industry as a whole, strives towards a ZERO Farming Footprint.”

Solina acquires Lynch Foods

Solina has acquired W.T. Lynch Foods Limited in Canada to accelerate its expansion in the North American market. Lynch Foods is an Ontario-based manufacturer of customized savoury and sweet culinary solutions for foodservice and industrial markets, generating $95m CAD annual sales. The company provides table portion and kitchen bulk sizes of sauces, syrups and dessert toppings, plus soup and gravy bases to its foodservice, QSR, and industrial customers. Lynch Foods’ leadership team and the company’s 178 employees will join Solina, bringing its headcount in Canada to more than 315. “In Lynch Foods, we have bought a company that has a similar and complementary business platform to Berthelet and the capacity and capabilities to drive our growth as a leading food solutions partner in the Canadian market,” Anthony Francheterre, CEO of Solina, said. “This is a positive and exciting move for both companies, our customers, and our people.” “This is a remarkable moment for us in Canada,” said Guillaume Dubois, president of Solina Canada. “Having Lynch Foods and Berthelet in our portfolio gives us coverage coast-to-coast and establishes Solina as the leader in foodservice and customized flavour solutions nationally. Our customers and our people will benefit from our expanded capabilities and ability to grow with them.” Solina has made a series of acquisitions in Canada and the United States in recent years, including Canadian foodservice leader Produits Alimentaires Berthelet in 2020. In addition Solina bought Asenzya, a provider of custom, dry savoury solutions, and Saratoga Food Specialties, a leader in custom seasoning and sauce flavour solutions for foodservice chains and food manufacturers. Solina now has four sites in the U.S. and three in Canada that complement its portfolio of culinary dry and liquid ingredient solutions in Europe.

UK food and drink exports hit record highs in 2022

The UK’s largest manufacturing sector has posted record figures for exports in 2022, according to the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) full-year trade snapshot. The FDF has compiled the latest trade figures released by His Majesty’s Customs and Excise, which show there’s been a resurgence in export sales in food and drink, with most categories now exceeding pre-pandemic levels to reach a record £24.8bn. Exports to Europe rose 22% to £13.7bn and developing markets did well too, with fast-growing economies like Vietnam nearly doubling. For the very first time, exports to non-EU markets have broken through the £10bn barrier, hitting £11.1bn. While supply chain disruption and high energy bills have played a part in the rise in value of UK exports, there has also been strong volume growth in most product categories over the last 12 months. This shows that the global appetite for high quality UK food and drink products continues to grow around the world. Chocolate remains the UK’s top food export, worth £824m, but there are clear indications that next year this could be overtaken by cheese, which has achieved rapid growth in overseas sales. Head of International Trade, Dominic Goudie said: “UK food and drink continues to be recognised around the globe for its high quality, safety, and sustainability credentials, with demand as strong as ever across the EU and at record levels in developing markets. As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, dynamic trade is vital if our sector is to deliver the robust growth we’d like it to in the coming months and years, benefitting communities in every part of the UK. “Imports are essential for the success our sector, adding value to UK produce while ensuring consistent availability and value for shoppers. There also remains substantial opportunities to deliver further export growth, but this will require government to use all the trade policy levers at its disposal in support of the food and drink sector, to ensure that our producers can access competitively priced ingredients and sell into the fastest-growing markets.” UK Food and Drink Exporters Association director Nicola Thomas said: “These cheering export growth figures are testament to the dogged determination of UK food and drink exporters, not only to exploit global commercial opportunities, but also to break down the myriad of barriers which hindered their international trade drive in 2022. “We are encouraged to see the increasing demand for British products in emerging markets such as Vietnam and the MINT territories which are helping to up new sales avenues for our more established exporters; in addition, recent FDEA research among our network of overseas in-market partners highlights a wide range of product categories in almost universal demand including snacking, non-alcoholic drinks, health & wellness, dairy and private label. There is huge scope for UK companies to seize further opportunities in 2023.”

Hungry? All the novel foods you could be eating at Future Food-Tech next month

Over the past few months Future Food-Tech has been working with more than 50 groundbreaking innovators to showcase their dishes and ingredients in the unique and adventurous summit menu. Be among the first in the world to sample these trailblazing plant-based and novel foods, featuring exclusive collaborations that you will only find at Future Food-Tech. WHO’S ON THE MENU? Prepare for a busy day of networking by fuelling up at the breakfast station:
  • EXCLUSIVE COLLABORATION: Current Foods smoked salmon bagels with Vertage cream cheese
  • Danone plant-based yogurts and creamers
  • Dole Sunshine Company blueberry muffins made with green banana powder and pineapple fiber powder
  • Vegan granola with Rainfed Original Millet Milk and fresh berries
Indulge in delicious snacks at the summit morning and afternoon coffee breaks:
  • Terviva orange and cardamom Ponova oil cake
  • Trendi berry breeze and mango tango fruit smoothies made from rescued ingredients
  • Pivot Bio microwavable gourmet butterfly Yellow Popcorn
  • Perfect Day mini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, made with precision fermentation
  • COMET coffee mixed with ARRABINA powder
  • Nulixir focus shots designed to enhance cognition and support brain health
Looking for something substantial for lunch? Why not try:
  • Sundial Foods Korean honey BBQ wings
  • EXCLUSIVE COLLABORATION: Current Foods tuna salad, Suncrestgreens, Vertage mozzarella, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans and olives
  • Lypid vegan pork belly adobo with garlic fried rice
  • The only meat on the menu, Mush Foods 50CUT kefta kebabs utilize 50% mycelium, 50% farm-based meat
  • SUMMIT EXCLUSIVE: Nourish Ventures Crispy Chik’n Karaage with Korean red chilli sauce and steamed jasmine rice
  • EXCLUSIVE COLLABORATION: Banh Mi Sandwiches with Impossible™Beef and The Better Meat Co. Mycoprotein Foie Gras made with Epogee®fat alternative EPG
  • Konscious Foods sushi platters, including tuna avocado and spicy california rolls
  • Zero Acre Farms ranch and French Vinaigrette salad dressings with cultured oil
  • MeliBio bee-free honey panna cotta
End your day sipping refreshments at the Planteneers drinks reception, while sampling a specially curated menu of plant-based treats, including: steak tartare, poke bowls, pizza and Oreo cheesecake. THE TASTE LAB Visit the Taste Lab to sample foods of the future and meet their trailblazing founders:
  • Aqua Cultured Foods Aqua Tuna, Aqua Scallop and Aqua Ground shrimp, served in tuna sushi rolls, shrimp dumplings and scallop crudo
  • COMET gummies featuring ARRABINA prebiotic dietary fiber
  • Mush Foods 50CUT beef burgers and chicken nuggets
  • Nourish Ventures Crispy Chik’n Karaage, served with Wasabi Ginger Moringa drizzle, and LiveKindly chicken wings
  • Pairwise salad bar featuring Conscious™ Greens – the first CRISPR gene-edited produce in U.S. retail
  • The Supplant Company chocolate and shortbread featuring Supplant™ Sugars from Fiber, its low glycaemic, prebiotic cane sugar replacement
  • Umiami plant-based chicken filet
STEP UP TO THE PLATE Have you ever wondered how whole cuts are formulated and how best to cook them? The founders will prepare dishes, chatting to Larissa Zimberoff as the action unfolds, even bringing some lucky live tasters up to the stage!
  • Demolish Foods chicken piccata with its whole-cut chicken breast
  • Novameat spicy Mexican pulled pork tacos using its next generation plant-based meat
On the alt-seafood side:
  • Current Foods raw tuna and smoked salmon
And that’s not all. You’ll munch your way around more than 55 booths across the Exhibition and Start-Up Arena, learning more about each technology from the innovators themselves.   Sample all these foods and more at Future Food-Tech San Francisco on March 16-17, as food-tech leaders come together to spotlight the new technologies and partnerships that are strengthening sustainable and nutritious food systems. Register now at www.futurefoodtechsf.com/register.

Cocoa-free chocolate firm raises $5.6m

WNWN Food Labs, which is bringing cocoa-free chocolate to market, has raised $5.6m (£4.5m) in financing to scale up its manufacturing and bring branded products to retail this year. The round was led by PeakBridge, a foodtech VC firm investing in innovative, scalable, climate- and health-focused companies with protectable technologies. PeakBridge, a core member of EIT Food, invests globally in early-stage and Series A companies, having a long-term positive impact on food systems. FoodLabs (formerly Atlantic Food Labs) extended its commitment with follow-on investment. The round also included participation from Geschwister Oetker Beteiligungen Group via its subsidiary Martin Braun-Gruppe, Mustard Seed Maze, PINC, Investbridge AgriTech, and HackCapital. WNWN will use the investment to scale up manufacturing and add headcount as it prepares for a UK retail launch later in 2023. “This blend of VCs gives us deep and strategic food tech experience to make a significant positive impact, and with PeakBridge’s partnership and team, we are well on our way to create a tastier, more ethical future of food,” said WNWN CEO Ahrum Pak. “This investment is also very timely given the new European ban on cocoa linked to deforestation, as WNWN can reduce the cocoa supply chain’s strain on the planet and on cocoa farmers entrenched in poverty.” WNWN employs a proprietary fermentation process to transform widely available plant-based ingredients like cereals and legumes to create cocoa-free choc that tastes, melts, snaps and bakes just like chocolate. Its formula is vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, palm oil-free, lower in sugar than comparable products, and safe for dogs since it contains no theobromine. Cocoa-free WNWN products produce 80% less carbon emissions than conventional chocolates, based on an internal lifecycle analysis. “Ingredient innovations like WNWN’s are key to building a more resilient, equitable, sustainable food system, and this in turn opens the doors to other goals like responsible production and consumption,” said Erich Sieber, founding partner at PeakBridge. “Not only does WNWN’s product have the potential to offer health benefits and address sustainability concerns, but it also opens up a world of exciting flavor possibilities. We are confident that WNWN will lead the charge in this category and are proud to be part of this journey.” “This funding is a validation of our science and our ability to scale,” said WNWN CTO Dr. Johnny Drain. “With demand for chocolate said to be increasing year over year, conventional supply chains can’t keep up, at least not at the expense of the planet and human dignity.” WNWN has already released two cocoa-free chocolate products via direct-to-consumer channels to test its concept. Both its dark choc thins and Waim! bar, its take on the classic Daim bar, sold out immediately—a positive signal to future retail partners. Since the product launches the company has taken on a new facility that increased its production space eightfold. With its expansion, WNWN has begun supplying partners with ingredients and finished products for projects like curated gifts and high-end restaurants and bars. Consumers are increasingly concerned about deforestation, habitat destruction, and unfair labor practices in the conventional chocolate supply chain. More than a million child laborers are estimated to work in Ivory Coast and Ghana, where three-quarters of the world’s cocoa is grown. Cocoa crops are also vulnerable due to climate change, including rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, which has led experts to predict chocolate shortages in the coming years.

New look for Atlanta UK

Leading packing and wrapping specialists, Atlanta UK, has recently undergone a brand refresh, in addition to launching a new website, providing an impressive showcase of its high-quality automation machinery and end-of-line packaging technology. Atlanta UK, formerly Atlanta Packaging, provides UK technical sales and after-sales service for the Italian-based Atlanta Group, which manufactures a range of automatic and semi-automatic pallet stretch-wrapping equipment, high-speed wrap-around case and shrink-wrapping solutions. The group supplies the OEM and integrator sector, as well as direct-to-end user across all industries including food, beverages, pet food, detergent, lubricants and personal hygiene industries. Incorporating a fresh and contemporary new logo design, created to be eye-catching and visually impactful, Atlanta UK’s new fully responsive website provides users with an inviting and structured layout giving easy access to their product portfolio. Offering a clear format, incorporating high-quality imagery throughout and supported by product videos, the site is modern in its approach and functionality. In addition to details on each of its high-quality packing and wrapping solutions, visitors to the site will find useful information and guidance on Atlanta UK’s service and spares support. An insights page highlights the company’s recent news, while alongside, a ‘success stories’ section demonstrates Atlanta UK’s achievements in providing customers with market-leading automation and end-of-line solutions. Atlanta UK’s Robert Johnston said: “With its modern design and easy-to-navigate appeal, the website will provide visitors with a comprehensive account of our offering and, importantly, how they can utilise our automation solutions to their advantage. Investments in state-of-the-art stretch wrapping, shrink wrapping and case packing machinery, are all designed to increase efficiencies and enable greater productivity, all backed by a flexible, knowledgeable and dependable service.” For further information on Atlanta UK visit atlantauk.com/

Novax acquires majority share in Louis François SAS

Investor, Novax has completed the acquisition of Louis François SAS, the French developer of specialty functional ingredients for culinary artisans and food producers. Founded in 1908, family-owned Louis François has a century-long history of developing and providing premium ingredients and solutions to its customer base of gastronomic clients and premium chefs worldwide. Pär Warnström, Head of Future of Food at Novax, said: “We are both proud and excited to partner up with Jean-Claude and the team at Louis François in this next chapter of their journey. “Louis François illustrates the traits of a true market leader – a fundamentally strong and competitive niche position, an unparalleled brand recognition well-known for quality and service, and a strong and experienced management team. “As a family-owned firm ourselves, we take pride in our unique position to honor family business values and look forward to working together with Jean-Claude and the team on growing Louis François further.” In partnering with Novax, Louis François will join the newly formed Ingå Group – a Novax long-term initiative centered around healthy and sustainable ingredient solutions for the food industry, joining alongside the UK & Netherlands-based functional ingredients developer and supplier Ulrick & Short. Jean-Claude François, Louis François’ owner and third generation of the François family, said: “We have found a long-term partner sharing our values, vision and view on growing our business further. “This alliance will preserve Louis François’ DNA and the history of our brand, while supporting the company in the next phase of its journey. We are committed to ensure a smooth transition for all of our employees and stakeholders at large and look forward to partnering with Ulrick & Short in the Ingå Group.” CEO of Ingå Group, Adrian Short, said: “We have made significant investments expanding our capabilities within product development, sales and marketing, paving the way for long-term growth. I am confident that Louis François will benefit from similar long-term support as part of the Ingå family.”