US market to open doors to UK lamb from 2022

Exports of British lamb to the US market can resume from next year after more than two decades of restrictions. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has amended the rule which currently prevents imports of lamb from the UK into the USA. The amended “small ruminant rule” will come into force on 3 January 2022. This new development means that over 300 million US consumers will soon be able to enjoy the UK’s world renowned lamb. It is estimated that this market will be worth £37 million in the first five years of trade. The update comes after President Biden committed to lift the ban on British lamb during the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House in September, and follows an easing on restrictions on British beef exports earlier this year. Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Today’s great news follows years of negotiations and builds on the success in securing the resumption of UK beef exports to the US. UK lamb is renowned for its high quality, food safety and welfare standards. Millions of US consumers will now be able to enjoy British lamb as early as next year. “The US market for lamb is growing as consumer trends change and there are now new opportunities for farmers and meat processors in this market.” The small ruminant rule (SRR) previously restricted access to the US market for all sheep meat from the UK, as well as a number of other countries including EU member states and Canada. This development clears the way for Defra to work with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and UK food safety authorities, such as the FSA, DAERA and FSS, and counterparts in the USA, in completing the final necessary steps to achieving the full resumption of UK lamb exports to the USA. International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This is fantastic news that brings UK farmers a step closer to putting their first-class lamb on American menus for the first time in more than 20 years. “The UK exported £436.4 million worth of lamb to the world last year and over £29 million worth of meat to the US. We want those numbers to grow and this win will help achieve that.” Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “This is fantastic news for our sheep producers and exporters. The US market is estimated to be worth £37 million over the first five years of trade and presents a further valuable opportunity for the UK sheep sector. “Today’s announcement means lamb exports will complement our existing pork and beef trade to the US, which was worth an impressive £22 million to industry in the first nine months of 2021. Gaining access to the US further cements our reputation as being world renowned producers of high quality lamb and we look forward to seeing our products on US plates in the New Year.” NFU President Minette Batters said: “It’s excellent to hear that the work of the UK government and levy boards has finally helped secure access for British lamb to the United States. British lamb is a fantastic, sustainable product that is recognised around the world for its quality and we know there is demand for it in the US. “This is exactly the sort of export opportunity we need to see the government pursuing and is something we strongly support. This is a positive step for Britain’s lamb producers and we would urge the government to continue opening up new markets around the world.”

Digitalisation – delivering for today’s FMCG brands and their contract supply network

Josephine Coombe, Managing Director of Nulogy in Europe, discusses the role of digitalisation in the supply chain and the importance of increased collaboration between contract manufacturing and co-packing partners. Even if we put the impact of Covid-19 to one side, the days of predictable consumer demand and stable retail channels are long gone, and today’s manufacturing supply chains need agility and resilience to keep up with volatile market conditions. Market trends and consumer preferences are constantly changing and evolving, and suppliers of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) are therefore increasingly relying on their external manufacturing and co-packing partners to help bring products to market quickly and cost-effectively. However, many of these suppliers lack the ability to collaborate effectively, shackled by the limitations of manual and outdated systems. The fact is that in times of increased complexity of development processes and supply lines, manual and time intensive processes will not provide FMCG brands with the levels of support and innovation they need. Legacy systems, spreadsheets and old-style trading of phone calls and emails create a mountain of non-standardised data, meaning FMCG supply chain leaders often have a total lack of visibility and control over their production and order progress. Shining a light Digitalisation provides a clear path through all this confusion. Cloud based platforms such as Nulogy, operate at brand, co-packer and strategic levels. Multi-enterprise collaboration becomes a reality through their use and bridges the gap between brands and their external manufacturing and packaging networks. Real-time data is seamlessly shared, workflows streamlined, milestones and KPIs easily tracked with shared accountability between the FMCG and their supplier – all of which allow this ecosystem to bring consumer products to retail customers with increased speed, flexibility, and reliability. Production metrics can also more easily be managed and optimised, enabling brands to drive continuous improvements in external performance. And although many FMCG organisations may already have internal ERPs in place, a collaborative solution is able to complement these pre-existing systems and seamlessly integrate with both internal systems and external suppliers, who can simply plug into the brand’s software. There are many benefits of this approach, from increased responsiveness and reduction in risk to optimisation of resources and improved sustainability. This is why Nulogy is leveraged by many of the world’s leading brands including L’Oréal, P&G, Mars, and Church & Dwight to both optimise and accelerate global supply chain performance. Delivering for contract suppliers In the same way that brands are not dependent on external suppliers having to invest in the same platform to facilitate their digitalisation programme, contract packers and manufacturers can similarly choose to employ software independently of their clients. In this situation operational solutions are tailored specifically to enhance all the key functions in a co-pack day-to-day environment, be it inventory management, production planning and job estimations. For contract packers and manufacturers, digitalisation is the key to enhancing efficiency, improving profitability, and ensuring quality. The availability of real-time data on performance tracking and material management means they can gain better visibility of their operations, ensuring lines are hitting targets and stock count is accurate. With precise information at their fingertips, suppliers can also improve labour proficiency and reduce inventory write-offs from lower material obsolescence. Major US based food packer, Bell-Carter Packaging, has seen Nulogy’s co-packing software deliver value on the shop floor as well as at the strategic business level, illustrating how digitalisation is a hidden gem of opportunity for those looking to stand out from the competition and unlock strategic growth. In the UK, Marsden Packaging, based in Blackburn, UK, specialises in primary and secondary packaging services for the food and pharmaceutical sectors and has been using Nulogy’s software to power its operations in the UK for over five years. Alongside the overall flexibility of the platform, Marsden has seen efficiencies and sustainability benefits come from the use of Nulogy by improving workflows and making the business a more efficient production unit through avoiding costly waste. Stronger together Ultimately, a multi-enterprise supply chain network – unified through digital transformation – can deliver both a raft of operational and financial benefits and, just as importantly, also strengthen relations between FMCG brands and external suppliers. By sharing data and working together to fulfil orders, mutual trust is built. All sides can achieve their objectives, and this generates a ‘win-win’ situation in this critical part of the supply chain as it meets the demands of a constantly changing world.

Kellogg’s to trial recyclable paper liners in cereal boxes

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal packaging is going fully paper based with the trial of a paper liner in the UK that can be widely recycled. The pilot will take part in partnership with Tesco in a small number of stores from January 2022 with the results helping to shape Kellogg’s future packaging plans. The plastic inner liner in cereal boxes is not currently widely accepted in kerbside recycling. Kellogg’s packaging technologists have worked to create paper-based inner packaging for its cereal that can survive the process of filling and sealing millions of bags in boxes of cereal produced in its factory and transporting them to retailers. The outer recycled card packaging of the company’s cereals boxes are fully recyclable and have been for many years. This is part of Kellogg’s Wellbeing Manifesto launched in May this year. The new action plan is a decade-long commitment from the company to improve its food and packaging so that it’s better for people, the planet and the community. The company says the results of this trial are crucial as it plans for fully recyclable cereal packaging whether that’s plastic liners being recyclable at kerbside similar to countries like Ireland and Belgium, or the roll out of cereal packaging that is fully paper based. It’s also important the cereal is kept fresh inside a paper liner as cereal has a 12-month shelf life. Chris Silcock, Kellogg UK and Ireland Managing Director, said: “We know people want to do more to help the planet and that’s why we are working hard towards meeting our commitment of all Kellogg’s packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by the end of 2025. This important trial of fully paper cereal packaging ensures we have explored all our options. “Ultimately, we would prefer plastic liners to be accepted in home recycling as our data tells us that they are better for the planet over the full life cycle of the packaging, but this trial ensures we have an alternative.” Tesco grocery director, David Beardmore, said: “We are committed to working with our suppliers to remove, reduce, reuse and recycle packaging, particularly plastic. It’s great to see that Kellogg is trialling a paper cereal bag in our stores – our customers will be pleased that they can easily recycle the bag at home. We call on suppliers to test and roll out actions like this; using as little material as possible and making sure that necessary packaging is easy to recycle.” Kellogg and Tesco have been working closely on several initiatives to improve the recyclability of their packaging and previously trialled a fully recyclable Pringle’s paper can in 2020.

Chilled food company snaps up frozen specialist

Wrights Food Group has been sold to The Compleat Food Group. The Compleat Food Group was formed through the merger of Addo Food Group and Winterbotham Darby in January 2021 in order to become the UK’s no. 1 chilled prepared food company. The acquisition of Wrights, a specialist in frozen foods, complements The Compleat Food Group’s existing chilled portfolio, significantly expands its customer base and provides it with much greater penetration into the UK’s foodservice markets. Wrights Food Group was founded in 1926 as a local family-owned pie business. Under the leadership of Peter Wright, it has grown into one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of frozen savoury pastry, sweet bakery and ready meals to foodservice and retail channels across the UK. It also operates a chain of branded bakery stores in the Northwest. Oghma Partners acted as exclusive financial advisor to the shareholder of Wrights Food Group. Mark Lynch, partner at Oghma Partners, said: “We were thrilled to be able to work with Peter and the Wrights management team on the sale of the business to The Compleat Food Group. It was important to Peter to pass the ownership of his business to a purchaser that would build on the legacy which the Wrights family worked so hard to create.”

DSM to accelerate growth in plant-based proteins with Vestkorn Milling acquisition

Royal DSM has signed an agreement to acquire Norwegian company Vestkorn Milling, one of Europe’s leading producers of pea- and bean-derived ingredients for plant-based protein products, for an enterprise value of €65m. Vestkorn Milling is well-positioned in the buoyant alternative protein market, supplying proteins, starches and dietary fibers for plant-based foods, pet food and animal feed. The company has 55 employees and is based in Tau on the south-west coast of Norway. Patrick Niels, Executive Vice President of DSM’s Food & Beverage division, commented on the acquisition: “We very much look forward to welcoming Vestkorn Milling and their team to DSM. Increasingly, food and beverage producers around the world are looking to partners who can offer an integrated portfolio of ingredients, expertise, and solutions to help them differentiate and get to market fast. “This is especially important in the highly dynamic meat alternatives space, where consumer and societal expectations around authentic taste, texture, and nutritional profile, as well as climate impact, are becoming more and more sophisticated.” Aslak Lie, CEO of Vestkorn Milling, added: “Through the cooperation with DSM we have taken a huge step towards becoming a global leader of pulse-based ingredients. Over the past years we have significantly expanded our business and market. With DSM, we have got a long-term oriented owner that will fuel further growth and expansion. We are thrilled by this opportunity, and we look forward to being a part of the DSM team.” The acquisition is a further step in DSM’s strategy to build an alternative protein business and will provide synergy with DSM’s innovative CanolaPRO™ rapeseed protein isolate, which will commercially launch next year. Vestkorn Milling’s proteins, starches and dietary fibers are complementary to DSM’s broad offering to companies developing plant-based food and beverages, which includes vitamins, algal lipids and minerals to improve nutritional value; texturizing hydrocolloids; and flavors and yeast extracts as well as enzymes to improve protein taste and functionality. The combination will furthermore help DSM deliver on its Food System Commitments to reach 150 million people with delicious, nutritious and sustainable plant-based protein foods by 2030. Subject to customary conditions, the transaction is expected to close in Q4 2021.

UK Plastics Pact cuts plastic packaging by 10% and doubles recycled content

The UK Plastics Pact’s third annual report, published today by global NGO WRAP, shows good collective progress against the UK Plastics Pact’s four ambitious environmental targets – year on year, while further action is required to scale the recycling of plastic bags and wrapping. A key achievement since its launch in 2018 has been a consistent and significant reduction in consumer plastic packaging by brands and retailers. Comparing data for members that have reported each year, there has been a 10% drop in plastic packaging on supermarket shelves, with problematic and unnecessary plastic items falling by 46% since 2018. This 10% reduction equates to a CO2e reduction of 335,000t – equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road since the Pact began. Marcus Gover, WRAP CEO, “The UK Plastics Pact arose at a time of great public concern about plastic pollution and has been a constant and practical programme for collective change to reset our relationship with plastics. Comparing 2020 against 2018, it has shown strong progress against its environmental targets during a period of unmitigated societal upheaval. “I believe this work should inspire us when we think about the enormous efforts needed to tackle climate change, and how innovation and experimentation can drive forward action through strong public-private partnerships. The results of real-life reuse and refill trials carried out under the Pact are extremely exciting for how we could shop packaging-free in the future. We see a 50% growth in plastics reprocessing in the UK, which is a massive improvement and Recycle Week marked a record high in terms of the numbers of people recycling – helping complete the cycle of plastics to keep them in the economy and out of the environment. But as COP26 made clear, we have a long way to go and little time to make big changes.” Today’s report also highlights a number of key developments during the last twelve months. Innovations in recycling plastic bags and wrapping through increased front of store collections are beginning to offer the opportunity to scale up the collection and recycling of these challenging materials, crucial to hit the Pact’s recycling target. WRAP, which published the industry best practice guidance on front of store collections in 2021, is urging more supermarkets to implement collections to increase the number of citizens using collection points ahead of future kerbside collections. The charity has also raised concerns that further investment from industry for critical UK recycling infrastructure is required, particularly for plastic bags and wrapping. Through the actions of The UK Plastics Pact, WRAP is also pushing forward a drive to increase trials for reuse and refill operations. Sharing the resulting evidence will help members expand these models to become a behavioural norm for millions more shoppers across the UK, in the years to come. The results of the annual report also highlight the doubling of the amount of recycled content in packaging to 18% since 2018. This reduces the pressure put on natural resources, helping to keep oil in the ground and mitigate global warming. The results show more than one million barrels of virgin oil have been saved through recycled content use. WRAP says this progress puts Pact members on track to hit 30% average recycled content by 2025 but warns that it is imperative we continue to get high quality recycled material for reprocessing. And that improving material quality through designing for recyclability and increasing the amount of plastic packaging recycled and collected, is as crucial as ever. Jo Churchill, Resources and Waste Minister, “The UK Plastics Pact is creating a real sea change and shows how businesses are rising to the challenge of cutting their use of plastic and increasing recycling. But there is more we must do – and that is why we are consulting on banning a range of further single-use plastics and, through our exciting new Environment Act, we will make manufacturers more responsible for their packaging. With strong action from government and businesses, we can drastically reduce waste, make better use of our resources and protect our natural environment.”

RMGroup partner with Atlanta to showcase end of line packaging solutions at Brewers Congress

Leading robotics and automation company, RMGroup, will be partnering with packaging technology and machinery specialists, Atlanta Packaging, to showcase automated packaging solutions for the brewing and beverage industry at the Brewers Congress, held at one of London’s most iconic event spaces: The Brewery. The event takes place on 7-8 December, with RMGroup and Atlanta exhibiting on booth 104 on the second day. The Brewers Congress is the premier meeting of the UK and wider brewing industry, providing a well crafted mix of lectures and talks, with a trade exhibition and beer tasting. With 450 attendees, 22 speakers and 300 breweries represented, the congress presents an ideal opportunity for both RMGroup and Atlanta to provide visitors to their booth with an insight of industry leading end of line packaging solutions, including case packing, stretch wrapping, robot palletising and AGVs. A selection of both RMGroup and Atlanta product videos will be displayed on the booth to give an immersive experience of their capabilities. Edward Pugh, RMGroup’s sales director, said: “We very much look forward to some good discussions with interested parties at the congress. Between ourselves and Atlanta, we have amassed many years experience of providing the beverage industry with some of the best automated packaging solutions available.” Atlanta Packaging’s Roger Cope added: “In partnering with RMGroup it’s great to be able to exhibit together and be on hand to support their stretch wrapping offering. In addition, we are very much looking forward to promoting our case packaging solutions which have already proved very successful in a number of brewing and beverage applications.