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Food and Drink

April Dear

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 runs 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 her 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. 

One business success

  • Throughout the pandemic, the meat industry has been, like many others, under extreme pressure to function with 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 is 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 the 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 The outdated image of the meat industry coupled with the negative press surrounding it regarding sustainability makes for a perfect storm of lack of desire from the next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 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 premium innovation offers, 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

October 2021