Opinion and comment from Food and Drink leaders.
April has a wealth of experience working within food development, starting her career as a classically trained chef before transitioning into the world of manufacturing where she now run’s the NPD and process department at Cranswick Convenience Sutton Fields. April has worked with all major retailers and discounters with a portfolio of products in multiple categories across fresh and frozen meat, as well as ready meals. Her passion for first to market ideas and quality ingredients has been matched with enthusiasm to advertise the opportunities within the industry, a cause that has resulted in her winning the Meat Business Women One to Watch Award in 2021. April has chosen to spend her personal development prize money on creating an enterprise project named, ‘Feed Your Future’. Through the school’s Business Hub sixth form students in the Hull area will be invited to invent the next summer BBQ meat product with the prize being a real launch into store. The journey to create a viable product will see them partnered with industry experts for mentorship and an insight into the professional opportunities they could have should they wish to enter the industry.
One business success
- Throughout the pandemic the meat industry has been, as many others, under extreme pressure to function with an increased demand in all areas. Within this innovation has not been halted, on the contrary the pre-determined pipeline has been re-visited with strategy overhauls allowing for great growth and demonstrating the agile nature of the business. Cranswick has at all times upheld its integrity and preference to do the right thing, whether this be supporting the NHS staff meals or the employee development programmes – the disruptive environment in which we find ourselves has not become an excuse to compromise on quality, value, people or innovation. This attribute from one of the UK’s largest meat suppliers is one to be proud of.
Two challenges for the sector
- Labour at all levels – by now we are all aware of the front- line labour challenges, however this barrier to entry is not only prevalent at operative level. The outdated image of the meat industry coupled with the negative press surrounding it regarding sustainability makes for a perfect storm of lack of desire from the next generation to enter the sector. We need to start speaking up about the vast opportunities available, step out from behind the guarded gates in which the food industry has historically hidden itself and shout about the good already being done as well as the difference they could make working for such sizeable businesses.
- Unpredictable landscape – a challenge or an opportunity, the sharp increase in sales for all retailers in 2020 will be driving innovation strategies on how to retain the growth across the board. We will see leaps of faith in strategies and a shake-up of who we thought their identities were. The labour and material shortages being experienced across the food industry is opening as many doors as it is shutting, this will drive suppliers into new categories thus creating a diverse influx of ideas into spaces that would not have traditionally been open to them
Three forecasts for the sector
- Price increases – to sustain product availability and the UK’s reputation as having a premium innovation offering, prices will rise to enable the fulfilment of the full supply chain. Managing consumer reactions to retailers at this time will be challenging
- Working environment evolution – with working from home now the norm for so many, the manufacturing sector will have to find its own way of incorporating this to retain talent in more office-based roles, a change we would not likely have seen for decades if not for the pandemic
- Increase in demand for high welfare meat – as consumers make the link to the sustainability benefits this area will grow, demand is already high vs supply so this trend will result in a genuine increase in higher welfare environments