Global forces are transforming the food industry. The migration of millions of Chinese and Indian consumers into cities raises global demand for food. Around the world, commodity prices are volatile. Emerging markets with the potential to meet rising demand are beginning to recognise their power and influence.
These forces are reshaping the UK food business, in turn. British farms and food businesses have long been world leaders in quality; however, they can also carry high fixed costs. Recognising the changing global market, they are turning to innovation and international markets to keep them ahead.
Some, such as Genus and John West, are turning to technological innovation – for example, introducing foods that reduce the body’s ability to absorb fat; or “no-drain” tuna, a new innovation from John West. Some, such as Angus Soft Fruits, are licensing their growing technology on an international basis. Others, such as Innocent and Bighams, are focusing on the power of branding.
As with nuclear in the energy sector, so with GM in the food business. After many years in which “organic” foods dominated the limelight, today attention is increasingly turning back to food science (indeed, questions are being asked about the nutritional claims of organic products). All this does not spell the end for organic foods, but does force the major players in this sector to refocus around branding, pricing and international reach.
Real Business is hosting, with HSBC Corporate Banking, an event in January for mid-sized UK food and farming businesses. It’s invitation-only but, if you’re interested, do let us know about your business and we’ll see if we can fit you in. Email Jo Cox on email@example.com
In the meantime, here’s a fascinating programme from the incomparable BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, which features some of the industry’s leading lights, such as former Green & Black CEO William Kendall. Click here to listen again.