SPIRITS ARE HIGH FOR FROZEN
For a third year running, the frozen food
industry joined forces to attend this year’s BFFF Business Conference.
Maria Bracken reports on the insights unveiled by this year’s stellar
line up of speakers.
“Growing year on year, the BFFF Conference and Exhibition is unique in championing all parts of the frozen food sector including producers, importers, brokers,wholesalers and retailers,” said Brian Young, Director-General of the BFFF,who was first up on stage. “It is also an event that has become a well established part of the frozen food calendar,” he added. A total of 220 delegates gathered at the four star Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire. There were 106 different companies at the event; 100 of these were BFFF members, and the remaining six were non members. Alongside the conference was an exhibition where 20 BFFF members showcased their products and services.
This year’s programme focused on looking beyond the recession and how the frozen food industrywill respond. Conference chair Clive Beddall welcomed Brian Young to the stage to outline the BFFF promotional plans for the coming months. He spoke about the consumer and foodservice campaign, now in its fifth year and also announced the launch of the Frozen Lion; a campaign focusing on how frozen food can benefit the pub sector.
Young handed over to Dennis Turner, former chief economist with the HSBC Bank, who described himself as an ‘optimist’. He updated delegates on the latest economic picture in the UK and raised many questions that he believed needed to be asked such as, “Why has the recovery been so muted, and what is it going to take to really lift the recession?” He touched on some of the positives facing the industry. “The good news is inflation is coming down, real earnings are growing again and debt repayment is underway.”He lifted the spirits in the conference room as he concluded his session: “There is light at the end of the tunnel! Don’t lose faith.”
Following excellent feedback fromboth 2011 and 2012, Ed Garner, communications director at Kantar Worldpanel, took to the stage for the third year. He updated delegates on the upcoming consumer trends based on Kantar’s ongoing research into the frozen food sector. Following a short interval and a chance for delegates to view the exhibition area, Nigel Broadhurst, buying director at Iceland, spoke out about the plans that are in place to make sure frozen foods stay at the forefront of consumer awareness. “We’re going for world domination,”he said with great confidence. He unveiled Iceland’s strategy to cope with the recession and called for the industry to come together and fight for frozen: “It is time to take action!”
Next up from a supplier’s perspective was Leendert Den Hollander, chief executive officer, Young’s Seafood,who unveiled Young’s real mission – Category Growth. As well as outlining the key messages surrounding frozen fish, Den Hollander explained what manufacturers should bear in mind when developing and marketing their products.
Meanwhile, focusing on COOK Trading’s future plans, co-founder Edward Perry gave an honest account of how the business became a success. He took delegates through a timeline of events that had an impact on the family business and explained how real business was all about people, their relationships and dreams.
Moving on to foodservice was Andy Jones, service development director, ISS Facility Services Healthcare and deputy chair, Hospital Caterers Association. Describing himself as a “realist and innovator”, Jones gave delegates an insight into how public sector caterers have adapted to meet changes as a result of public spending cuts.
Looking at frozen from a pubs perspective was Nick Bish, chief executive of Association of Multiple Licensed Retailers, who provided a look into the fortunes of the pub sector. With figures from CAMRA showing that by the end of 2012, a staggering 7,500 pubs have closed since the recession began, Bish focused on what measures these outlets were putting in place to attract customers in and how frozen food manufacturers could help them.
Also invited on stage was Nik Basran, managing director of The Authentic Food Company, who looked at how food manufacturers were responding to needs of the consumer. He identified market challenges and described the company’s mission: “To love our people, love our products and love our customers.”
After a panel discussion with key speakers and afternoon tea, BFFF closed its conference on a high with inspirational speakers Katherine Grainger, Olympic Gold Medallist of London 2012, and Greg Nugent, director of branding, marketing and culture at the London 2012 Games and Paralympic Games. Nugent provided his take on the Olympics and identified one of his lessons learnt: “You have to have a big aspiration in life to succeed in any business,”meanwhile Grainger revealed her true feelings and emotions when she triumphed at London 2012.
For a more detailed account on the conference and exhibition, look out for the next issue of The Bulletin magazine.
Presentations are available below