Future of food and drink? Just look outside and inside

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.


A City Network, Food and Drink Producers, Family Business, Entrepreneurs and Place…one example

The wonderful Shepherds Inn (possibly offering us the best beef in a sandwich at a business lunch ever) in Carlisle, hosted the most recent Carlisle Ambassadors event this time it showcased food in and around the City.

Bruce and Luke’s Handcrafted Coffee in conversation with Armstrong Watson

Speakers as diverse as Grasmere Gingerbread; Peter Sidwell; The Taste Magazine from CN Group; the Northwest Hospitality Show and Carlisle City Council all offered a flavour of how the food sector both impacts and relies on the area in which it is based.

Around the room we had displays from some of our great Food and Drink producers from relatively new businesses such as the Carlisle Living Award winning COM-FOR-T, to the long established trans-generational Pioneer Food Services.

By bringing together the diverse membership of the Ambassadors with Food and Drink businesses from across our area, it offered the members a taste of some of the fine products available from Lakeland Mues Muesli, Carlisle Brewery’s fine collection of ales, Two White Hats seasoning mixes, Grasmere Gingerbread, biscuits from COM-FOR-T, sausages from Pioneer, rhubarb crumble gin from Solway Spirits, to scones made with fresh herbs from Helens Herbs and many more. It also gave the members an opportunity to think about how important this sector is to the City.

The food sector not only offers long term employment from transgenerational family firms, whether this is from the smaller food producer with a global reach such as Grasmere Gingerbread, who at over a 170 years has an impressive array of international customers or Pioneer Foods at almost 150 years old that plays an essential part in the food supply chain across the City, SW Scotland and the North of England. The food sector also encourages the growth of innovative new businesses either rural (Lakeland Mues), urban (COM-FOR-T), Carlisle based (Carlisle Brewery) or from across the border (Solway Spirits).

From our stand we (Thomas Jardine & Co) asked attendees how they could either support this sector, or as a Food and Drink producer, what type of support they wanted from other businesses. The answers were illuminating and we will share these at another time, perhaps for now you could ask yourself the same questions…either as a non-food business what could you do for Food and Drink Producers near you, or as a Food and Drink Producer, what could you gain (or want) from working with businesses or experts near to you? Any thoughts please tweet us @thomasjardineco or email: hello@thomasjardineandco.co.uk