Out and about
Summer is over and ‘silly season’ is upon us. After the calm of the June-August period, September quickly rolls around and diaries are full of exhibitions, conferences and meetings once again. Indeed, I’m starting to forget what the office looks like.
Last week I was invited to Tickle Berries, the first grower in England to establish a commercial aronia berry plantation. With high levels of natural plant anthocyanins, flavonoids, polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins, the berries are believed to deliver numerous functional benefits. The versatile, black coloured berry can be pressed, frozen, dried, powdered, chocolate covered or candied, and consumed on its own in both juice and whole formats, used as an ingredient or even a food colouring.
I also spent a day at the lunch! show in London last week, where more than 350 companies showcased their food-to-go solutions, including food, drink, equipment and packaging. With the UK’s food-to-go market predicted to hit £16.1 billion by the end of the year – with sales up nearly seven per cent from 2015 – food-to-go has never been more popular. According to a recent survey, around 70 per cent of shoppers had purchased their lunch ‘to go’ in the preceding month, while almost a third (28 per cent) had bought something on-the-go for breakfast. The show certainly gave operators food for thought with on trend food and drink products and innovative ‘to go’ packaging in abundance.
Later in the week I attended this year’s Sugar Reduction Summit: Industry, Regulation and Public Health. Given the recent publication of the UK government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, as well as the soft drinks tax announced earlier this year, the summit was well timed to address questions such as, is it counterproductive for industry to focus its efforts on a single ingredient? Is a 20 per cent reduction target over five years realistic and achievable? Can sugar reduction be achieved through voluntary reformulation alone?
After the summit it was on to the Food and Drink Federation Awards. With the food and drink industry under increasing scrutiny, the annual bash is a great opportunity to celebrate outstanding individuals, ambitious initiatives and growing food and drink businesses and their contribution to the economy, community and environment. The full list of winners can be found in the news section on our website – congratulations to all winners and finalists.
Today, as I write, I am on my way to Birmingham for the PPMA Total Show in order to see the latest processing and packaging production line equipment – from design, containers and materials to machinery, automation and industrial vision – from more than 400 exhibitors representing 2,000 companies. In addition to a seminar programme, the event also hosts the PPMA Awards this evening (27 September) so I’m looking forward to celebrating even more of the food and drink industry’s achievements tonight.
There will be full coverage of all of the above in the magazine and online in the coming weeks – that’s if I ever find myself at my desk again!