To the outside world the food and drink supply chain is so straight forward. You grow something, you pick it, you prepare it, you take it to market and you sell it.
Working with the food and drink supply chain we find the trick is to use three eyes. One eye on future trends, one inside the business and one outside the business .
Eye on the future
Dean Van Leeuwen the Moonshot Futurist (at a business breakfast organised by Armstrong Watson) showed that specific future trends can be difficult to capture. He reminded us of the speed of change our society is currently facing. This change inevitably leads to redundancy of current operating systems and we have to learn to unlearn old ways. For us in the food chain this means real rapid change. We saw a real example of food retail change at the official opening of Pioneers new food store in Carlisle. The opening was truly a celebration of their journey so far (140 years and counting). The new store has created a hybrid where wholesale food services meets retail with style.
Eye on the inside
In beautiful rural settings like the Lake District and the Eden Valley business space for food producers is a valuable commodity. A recent visit to a well-established small family business demonstrated this. The lack of available space made them focus on constantly improving their systems and relearning the equipment they required. Similarly, a larger well-established food manufacturer kept their productivity increasing by constantly identifying new machinery for their processing. This now means they are ahead of the curve and looking for partners to work with to develop laser cutting equipment for the food sector.
Eye on the outside
We had an interesting conversation with a young business that is looking outside. The business had done its research well and knew who they had to talk to and what they needed to prepare. Their problem was getting key people to talk to them. The business wanted to talk to a local council officer and couldn’t pin them down to a time. The local council are a good bunch with business at heart BUT are pushed for time and this appears to be impacting on the support they can offer, we’re sure they will find the time soon.
Adding the third eye
The observant of you would have realised we reckoned you needed three eyes to succeed in food and drink. Our food and drink manufacturers are not aliens, they have simply learned the art of thriving in the modern business eco-system, they share knowledge with each other and work with agencies to ensure full visibility of the future, the present and the outside world. This is Cumbria demonstrated how these businesses can get things done and we (Thomas Jardine & Co) just love working with them.