Could energy bills push small food businesses to collapse?

When the headlines started to pour out recently, talking about high energy bills, the focus for many was on householders and domestic bills. Here, Rick Smith, MD of Forbes Burton, an insolvency and business rescue specialist, asks what is in store for food manufacturers. Rightly so, as many believe that this Winter will see many consumers in the UK slip not only into fuel poverty, but actually cross the poverty line too. However, another real risk is small businesses, particularly food manufacturers or micro businesses, running into real financial difficulties thanks to the wild, uncapped prices that may be on the way. There have already been multiple stories of businesses crying out for help with their energy bills, but there’s also many that have already closed up shop, including well-established restaurants, takeaways and small family businesses, some producing artisan food for generations. The SME Insights Report, published by small business insurance provider Simply Business, also found that one third of UK businesses (36%) stated tax and national insurance hikes are their greatest concern. The report found that 70% of SME owners say that rising costs across the board are their biggest challenge this year. Half (49%) said that they are set to increase their prices in an attempt to offset increased expenditure. One in five (21%) intend to raise prices by 6-10%, and for almost one in 10 owners (7%), these increases could be as much as 20%. As a result, three in five (59%) small business owners are calling on the government to review or reduce the energy price cap. One fifth (21%) state that the VAT cut needs to be reviewed or extended, and over one in 10 (12%) feel that the government should review or reduce national insurance. While the energy price caps do not apply to businesses directly, millions of small business owners are still experiencing increased energy bills at a time when costs are rising in most operational areas. The report also lists that the greatest threats to SME survival in 2022 are: Rising fuel and energy costs – 54% Tax and national insurance hikes – 36% Lack of funds or access to credit – 22% Marketing and the ability to find customers – 26% Recovering from pandemic related losses – 18%   Recovery? It’s hard to see a way out here, most businesses in food lost a good amount of money during COVID, particularly in foodservice and hospitality and with other setbacks present in the world in recent years. Prime Minister Liz Truss means to bring the UK into a high wage, high productivity way of working, but more needs to be done to stimulate that growth as many still feel not enough has been done since COVID to prop up a huge amount of financial trauma that has taken place. Consumers are already feeling the pinch due to recession warnings, but this, coupled with energy costs soaring may be too much of a squeeze from all sides for businesses. Seeking help and advice about business debt or recovery? Talk to one of our team for a free consultation today.

Diageo terminates conditional agreement for sale of Windsor business

Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol, has terminated the conditional agreement to sell the Windsor whisky business, including the W series, to the Bayside Private Equity and Metis Private Equity consortium (Bayside/Metis). The termination of the £124m deal is said to be a result of Bayside/Metis being unable to meet certain conditions for completion which formed part of the sales agreement announced in March. Windsor Global will continue to operate the Windsor business under an independent entity to the Diageo Korea international spirits and beer business.

Catering to on-the-go sandwich sustainability

With over 3 billion sandwiches purchased from UK retail or catering outlets annually, and part of British culture for over three centuries, our love of the humble and portable sarnie is back. Derailed by the combination of Covid and Brexit, the reduction in office workers and changes in working habits significantly influenced lunchtime purchasing decisions. Yet, for coffee shops and cafes, Lumina Intelligence forecasts that this market will grow 14.4% to £4.6bn in 2022. Part of this growth can be attributed to coffee shop operators extending their drive-thru businesses. The forecast for independents is even more reassuring. A growth of 25.3% in 2022, taking the value of this segment to £1.6bn. However, with record increases in ingredient prices, coupled with widely reported labour shortages, extending the freshness of sandwiches, salads, wraps and fresh grab-and-go snacks and reducing preventable food waste has become even more imperative. A subsidiary of Jenton International and celebrating 40 years of packaging innovation, Soken Engineering launches its fully-inclusive range of waste-reducing heat sealing packing systems at this year’s PPMA Total Show (Stand A50). Rather than hand-packing lunch items in takeaway cartons/boxes with press-on lids that can be prone to air leaks and fast-track spoiling, Soken’s 3-in-1 Soken Heat-Sealing System consistently achieves the perfect pack seal on the widest variety of lunch and snack products. Including baguettes, bagels, sushi, platters and other grab-and-go culinary lunchtime variations. With only a simple tool change, artisan lunch and sandwich suppliers, including cafes, garden centres, healthcare and workplace catering facilities, and businesses supplying garage forecourts and drive-thrus now only need to invest in a single system to improve pack presentation, hygiene and preserve lunchtime foods by up to three days. Putting an end to preventable food waste and subsequent lost profits. For small and independent cafes, the 3-in-1 Soken range comprises the level 1 machines that seal takeaway lunch items freshly made and packed individually to order. The level 2 machines – which seal up to four packs at the same time – are engineered for caterers supplying mobile vans and local shops. For higher output suppliers, the level 3 intermediate automated systems perfectly seal up to 48 packs per minute – making this machine ideal for medium-sized enterprises, such as airline caterers or large garden centre chains. All Soken equipment is manufactured in the UK and backed by a two year return-to-base warranty. Further improving the machines environmental and sustainability credentials. As all tooling and parts are designed and manufactured in-house, spares can be provided within very short time scales. It also means that caterers with unusual packaging requirements can commission bespoke tooling. For additional convenience, Soken can supply all associated consumables, including sandwich packs, ready meal trays with lidding film, and salad boxes. Sustainable plastic-free packaging options are also in development. Stephen Hawes, Soken Engineering sales manager, said: “Helping to reduce waste is a key priority for food suppliers of all sizes. If catering outlets and vendors can extend the shelf life of on-the-go-foods by even a day using tamper evident heat sealed packaging, this makes a significant difference to food waste as well as operating profits.”

JentonDimaco launches real-time Veri-VIEW at PPMA Total 2022

Underpinning its commitment to help food manufacturers reduce waste and avoid unnecessary emergency product withdrawals (EPWs), at PPMA Total 2022 (Stand A42) JentonDimaco – part of the Jenton Group – unveiled its newest food label verification innovation, Veri-VIEW. After biological contamination, label related defects are cited as the second most common cause behind costly and brand-damaging product withdrawals and retailer returns. Typical errors include incorrect use-by dates, missing allergen, country of origin or cooking time information, illegible barcodes, special promotions, or mis-aligned and crumpled labels. Many of which can be attributed to printing faults or human errors. And all of which are entirely preventable with the use of automated label verification technology. Speed of response is critical. To support this, JentonDimaco has engineered a new software providing an instant overview of label integrity. Demonstrated alongside JentonDimaco’s extensive online and offline label verification systems, Veri-VIEW offers real-time viewing of all the data generated by every Veri-PACK system on the factory floor, from one convenient central display.  Presenting the current status and KPIs, Veri-VIEW gives lineside QA managers all of the data needed to constantly stay on top of all labelling issues. Closing the data, audit and supply chain traceability loop. Managing Director Dr Russell Sion explains: “JentonDimaco label verification systems are an efficient way to authenticate all aspects of data and artwork on retail labels including price, barcodes, use-by dates and artwork revisions. All of this data is verified against a master specification held on the JentonDimaco Veri-CENTRAL server, which sources data from each food manufacturer’s MRP server or production spreadsheets. “This automated alignment of data significantly mitigates the risk of human errors, most of which occur in fast paced food processing and packaging environments due to operative fatigue and when variable and non-variable data doesn’t match up.” Verifying the very latest data Applying JentonDimaco’s advanced optical character recognition (OCR) software, Veri- PACK units can scan up to 200 pack labels per minute, triple the speed and more reliably than the human eye. Additionally, the technology can simultaneously inspect characters, 1D and 2D barcodes, data-embedded barcodes, numbers, RFID and LFC tags, plus much more. Always verifying against the very latest data. Veri-PACK units can be supplied as off-line sampling stations, online systems integrated into other packaging machines, or as independent conveyorised units with reject devices. Rather than random samples, a Veri-PACK unit inspects the label on every pack. Providing food processors with 100 percent assurance that every pack meets the labelling criteria. This also reduces the volume of false rejects and consequently preventable food manufacturing waste. All verification data including images and statistical data from every Veri-PACK is securely stored on Veri-CENTRAL for future reporting and auditing. The addition of Veri-VIEW software completes the cycle, enabling production and QA personnel to see what’s happening in real time without having to log in to the system. Lastly, if a supermarket makes a label adjustment during the production run, for example to a price, the JentonDimaco Veri-CENTRAL server will pick this up instantly. This information is then automatically relayed to every Veri-PACK labelling system within seconds and the action taken documented on Veri-VIEW.

Packaging and pathogens: air and surface disinfection for food production lines

Jenton International showcases at PPMA Total 2022 (Stand A50) the smartest way to keep packaging lines, food processing conveyors and workplace environments hygienically disinfected with JenAct UV. This September at the NEC, Birmingham, Jenton International revealed how to set workers’ minds at ease this winter when it comes to the on-going threat of coronavirus and other airborne illnesses. Showcasing the latest range of its cutting-edge UVC disinfection equipment, pathogens in the workplace pose less of a problem, thanks to JenAct UV’s air- and surface-disinfection solutions. Why UV? UV has been used for disinfection for over a century. UVC light is proven to kill bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and drug-resistant bacteria, on surfaces and in the air. As such, the specialist lamps employed in JenAct UV equipment can be used to disinfect workplaces of all sizes, by effectively deactivating pathogens present by 99.99%. Scientifically tested, measured and categorised, performance can now be accurately and reliably modelled. To the extent that JenAct has perfected its UVC light solution by developing software which enables the company to match disinfection performance to customer requirements, including air flow and dimensions, as well as specified pathogens. Food packaging peace of mind Centrepiece of the JenAct display was the JenAct UV Roller Disinfection Conveyor. Delivering 99.99% disinfection of the surfaces of packaging and packaged products being transferred from low-care to high-care in food production facilities. Providing full 360-degree UVC exposure, disruption of the RNA in viruses and DNA in bacteria and moulds cell nuclei occurs on all packaging surfaces. By inactivating microbiological contaminants, it stops them spreading to the food being packaged. The result is dry, contactless and chemical-free inactivation of viruses, bacteria and moulds on anything where there’s a risk of cross contamination. An essential for the food preparation and packaging industry, the UV lamps used in both the UK-manufactured JenAct UV Roller Disinfection Conveyor and the rest of the range have been specially modified for use at cold temperatures. Ideal, therefore, for protecting people, products and packaging from dangerous bacteria and moulds. Additional JenAct UV products for air disinfection include wall-mounted GRU-V® systems for smaller spaces such as pubs, bars, restaurants and hospitality venues where there’s no existing HVAC system; UV Torpedo® systems to improve air quality in environments that feature HVAC and air duct systems; plus horizontally mounted UV Jet™ systems designed to disinfect up to 3,500m³ of air per hour in larger production spaces.

Mettler-Toledo introduces advanced X-ray to provide unrivalled detection of ‘hard-to-find’ contaminants

Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection today launches its most advanced x-ray inspection technology to date, delivering a remarkable leap forward in the ability to detect low density contaminants in packaged food products. The new technology will help food manufacturers avoid product recalls, reduce unnecessary product waste costs and enhance product integrity and brand protection. State-of-the-art Mettler-Toledo DXD and DXD+ dual energy detector technology is optimised for identifying foreign bodies such as calcified bone, low-mineral glass, rubber and some plastics. These types of contaminants are traditionally hard to detect within the ‘cluttered’ or ‘noisy’ x-ray images generated by overlapping and multi-textured products such as packs of pasta, chicken breasts, sausages and frozen potato-based goods. Such applications are a perfect match for DXD and DXD+ advanced detector technology, in conjunction with intuitive new Mettler-Toledo Advanced Material Discrimination software tools. The software helps to separate and remove the prominent material of the food product within the x-ray image, revealing the presence of any lower density contaminants. As a result of the accuracy and reliability of DXD and DXD+ detection, food manufacturers can be more confident that their products are safe for consumers, and that they will benefit from reduced False Reject Rates and product waste, helping to deliver a fast return on investment.

Kite’s food packaging picks

With most UK consumers back at their places of work post-covid, people are spending more time commuting and for many, food-to-go offers convenience whilst juggling commitments. As a food vendor, choosing suitable packaging is paramount as it can make or break the perception of your brand. Kite Packaging has you covered, offering everything from cutlery, straws and cups to takeaway boxes, bowls, paper bags and more. Our paper food bowls are ideal for both hot and cold foods. Their exterior is manufactured from strong, sustainable kraft paper while the PE-lined interior protects against moisture and grease. This maintains the integrity of the container and, alongside being microwavable, enhances the overall experience and convenience of ordering from your business. If takeaway boxes are better suited to your needs, pick from our breathable, odorless hinged lid and clamshell varieties for the freshest possible impression on arrival. These are leak-resistant and greaseproof due to their water-based coating, granting optimum protection. For takeaway drinks, consider our coffee cups which, in spite of their name, are suitable for both hot and cold beverages. Durable, double-walled and ergonomic in design, these cups aid safe and comfortable on-the-go consumption. Not to mention, they are made from virgin food grade materials, certifiably suitable for food and drink, ensuring optimal hygiene. We offer a comprehensive range of eco-friendly wooden forks, knives, dessert spoons and teaspoons to complete any order. These are only as durable as is needed for single-use, aiding an accelerated composting process which returns natural components to the earth rather than landfill. Compact and lightweight, our cutlery promotes user satisfaction whilst enabling easy storage on the business end. Kite Packaging is the one-stop shop for all your food packaging needs. To explore our full range, please visit

CSB provides a sweet solution for bakery specialist

Cypriot bakery and confectionery specialist Zorbas Group – now a player in the international market with outlets in the USA – has cited the IT solutions of CSB-System and the strong partnership between the two companies as key factors in its continued success and growth. The single CSB ERP system that is used throughout the group and powers its web shop is providing Zorbas with full integration across the company, with faster and more flexible logistics procedures and production processes, and optimisation of its supply chain. Established in 1975 by Andreas Zorbas as a small bakery in the backyard of his house in Athienou, a small town in the province of Larnaca, today the Zorbas Group has three production units featuring the latest equipment and technology. The company has 69 stories throughout Cyprus, along with two recently opened outlets in the United States and a third scheduled to open shortly. With over 2,500 employees, Zorbas Group says that people have always been the most decisive factor in its growth. Supporting their commitment has been the company’s efforts to constantly evolve and upgrade its technology, working hand in hand with CSB-System. Today CSB’s ERP system provides a point of reference for Zorbas Group’s entire IT. All stores and production facilities directly enter their orders in the company’s Webshop order systems, where available stock is checked in real time. Based on these orders and current inventory levels, the Production Planning and Scheduling program (PPS) of the CSB system calculates the production plan. Significantly, the real-time analysis of data from other divisions of the company, such as sales or the warehouses, allows the system to supply raw materials at the correct time. “This makes it possible for us to have fresh ingredients always available, while at the same time reducing waste,” explained Zorbas Group’s Software Administrator Marinos Magafas. The CSB solution also delivers effective quality control in goods receiving and production. Managers from all the different production sites can access the latest statistics at any time, providing flexibility and full control for each of the individual operations. “Without the integration of all company areas in a single software system, it would probably not be possible to achieve this high level of transparency,” added Marinos Magafas. The use of mobile devices makes the qualitative and quantitative control processes of incoming goods faster and more flexible. From the storage of incoming raw materials to their movement throughout the factory, and from order-based handling and picking with automatic document management to route optimisation, all activities are executed using flexible and intuitive M-ERP procedures. Production processes are also monitored and controlled via CSB-Rack industrial computers with touchscreen technology that are installed in many areas of the factories. For onward distribution, orders are loaded onto trucks in accordance with the planned routes, ensuring maximum load volumes and weights. Zorbas Group’s main activity is the company’s Zorbas Bakeries where bakery and confectionery products, along with cooked meals, salads and sandwiches, are on sale. All items prepared with fresh and high-quality ingredients. Every Zorbas bakery stores also includes a ‘Coffee Berry’ coffee shop selling and serving the finest coffee and other beverages. The company’s love for and specialisation in international cuisine and confectionery has also led to the creation of the ‘Pralina Confectioneries’ and the ‘Pralina Experience’ restaurants in Nicosia and Limassol.

Visit SCOTT at the PPMA Total Show to discuss your next palletising project

Visit SCOTT on stand H50 at the NEC Birmingham from 27 – 29 September to see its complete portfolio of palletising solutions and case studies, including the latest PAL 4.0 range. SCOTT’s team will be happy to discuss your upcoming automation projects or just to have a chat with you. 3 reasons why you should take this opportunity and meet with SCOTT:
  • Let SCOTT’s expert team share their advice based on decades of experience
  • SCOTT’s new generation palletiser PAL 4.0 can be a real game changer for your end of line
  • Find out how SCOTT’s unique multiline palletising systems can save you a lot of valuable space
Learn more and get your free ticket here: See you in Birmingham.   +44 (0) 1384 210 278

‘The Future of…..’ PPMA announces its three-day seminar programme for PPMA Total Show 2022

PPMA has announced the schedule of its three-day onsite Seminar Programme, which will run daily during PPMA Total Show 2022, the UK’s largest processing and packaging machinery, robots, and industrial vision show. Entitled ‘The Future of….’, the free-to-attend seminars will comprise informative presentations, interactive discussions and industry insights delivered by a range of organisations and respected industry experts. The programme has been compiled specifically to address a wide range of issues facing UK industry, both today and into the future. Topics include the latest smart manufacturing solutions, next generation automation, IoT (Internet of Things) and business innovation, as well as workplace and employee wellbeing, cyber security, vision system integration and robotics. Delegates can also learn about the latest product compliance, anti-counterfeiting and import regulations, sustainable solutions and new product testing, and gain invaluable advice on how to achieve processing and energy cost reductions. The seminars will take place concurrently in Theatre 1 (Stand D124) and Theatre 2 (Stand C124) in Hall 5 at the NEC Birmingham starting at 10.00am each day on Tuesday 27th, Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th September. For more information, go to: For your free visitor pass to PPMA total Show 2022, go to: