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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chatting with Peter Sidwell at his Simply Good Food HQ in Keswick reminded us of all the great things that are currently happening in and around Cumbrian food.
When Peter started his cooking career in Keswick he was seen as revolutionary because he used local produce. His entrepreneurial flair continues today with his Simply Good Food TV channel looking to reach 1,000,000 download figures and clips of the channel now showing on screens on the London Underground. Just as Peter has diversified and grown his business, so the Food and Drink sector in Cumbria has evolved to include multinational food manufacturers, regional and national food producers and smaller artisanal food and drink producers with healthy export markets in place.
Local food is now not just about the local food markets, although they still play an important part in raising the profile of our awesome local food producers. Many of our larger local food retailers and hospitality businesses focus on the great food and drink producers in and around the county. Just check out some of our great local retailers such as Low Sizergh Barn in the south of the county, Westmorland on the M6 and Cranston’s in the north. Or look at the wholesalers such as Caterite and Pioneer Foodservice both of which do sterling work in supporting our burgeoning food sector, acting as a vital link between our local food and drink producers and the consumer.
Cumbrian food is getting on the map. This year’s Great Taste Awards – probably the best barometer of artisan food and drink in the UK -, were well represented in Cumbria with food and drink producers scooping 51 awards including prestigious 2 star awards for: Shed1 Distillery; Lakeland Mues; Stringers Beer; Mr Vikki’s; Peace and Loaf Bakehouse, Woodall’s Charcuterie; Bruce and Luke’s Coffee; Cranstons; Dalemain Marmalade and Hawkshead Relish and 3 stars for Grants Smokehouse and More The Artisan Bakery.
All these food businesses large and small are doing their bit to raise the standard of Cumbrian food and drinks and in doing so are creating a growing vibrant food economy for our region. They are creating new opportunities for employment in the food sector as well as the many service businesses that support it from hospitality; to accountants; to social media experts, to web designers; to photographers; to graphic designers; to packaging and box businesses to HR experts and so many more.
Food has always been an integral part of the Cumbrian economy and we as consumers have an opportunity to become part of its rebirth. So this weekend why not go and try that independent café or restaurant that you’ve always fancied visiting. If you’re not going out, why not try one of the many local ales that are now brewed in your county or one of the local jams or coffees produced here. You might just like what you try and then you too can become part of the Cumbrian food revolution.
If you’re a business looking to source more local food check out our map on https://www.thomasjardineandco.co.uk/centre-family-food-business/ and if we have missed a fab food or drink producer please let us know. Follow us on Twitter @thomasjardineco