LEAF Annual Conference 2018
15/11/18 Reverse order Timestamp format
Welcome to the live commentary for the LEAF Annual Conference 2018, kindly hosted by Barclays
Welcome to LEAF's Annual Conference live commentary keeping you updated on all the discussions around food security, defence and protection as they happen. Environment and rural affairs broadcaster Tom Heap is our Chairman for the day, saying that 'trust' is the key issue - what do we need to put in place to make sure that 'trust' is both earned and deserved.
LEAF Chairman, Philip Wynn, states that technology will have a key role to play addressing food safety issues. The impact of severe climate related weather events have doubled since the 1990's.
Globally the demand for food is rising. We will need to use fewer inputs, produce less waste and have a lower environmental impact. LEAF has made an enormous difference in developing more sustainable production systems. In addition LEAF Marque as the global environmental assurance system is driving forward integrity in the supply chain.
Guy Poppy, Chief Scientific Adviser, Food Standards Agency outlines the science behind the threats to our food system and what the FSA are doing to protect our food.
From farm to fork the work of the FSA, affects everyone in the UK
Food we can trust
Food is what it says it is
Able to make an informed choice
Access to a healthy diet
FSA works with multiple stakeholders and producing recommendations. We cannot just react, gather evidence, consolidate it, then produce recommendations.
Minette Batters - Brexit is going to shape our future in a way that we do not truly know. Risks of a no deal has huge implications to the integrity of our food systems. 95% of our vaccines are made in the UK. No deal is an unacceptable place for our country to go.
Real challenge of where the UK decides to 'dock' in the world. This question remains unanswered. NFU are looking at: risk, opportunity and change of Brexit. We need to embrace the change that it will bring. We need to look forward and shape the future.
This cannot be about the NFU, has to be about multiple stakeholders. Incredibly important that we bring the industry together. We are all united by food.
Minette Batters -
How we produce food and look after the environment has been led by LEAF farmers. Critical to the future. When we talk about environment and food policy - we have got to have a shared ambition for our future.
Minette Batters -
Integrity in standards is key. We should be proud of what we have achieved. Volatility and vulnerability - we are the first country in the world going to 100% public money for public goods. How we deal with volatility remains one of the key challenges of our time.
Business development - market to our customers. UK farmers and growers to remain the market of choice for consumers. Building our brand has to be built on our integrity and standards. Food assurance standards have a huge role to play but we need to work together so consumers are getting one message. Maintaining the loyalty of our market has to be a key focus.
Questions from the audience raises discussions around profitability, food security, government food strategy, carbon footprint of agriculture.
Q&A continues with discussions around science, evidence, risk management in relation to food integrity and specifically what challenges Brexit will bring around the risk of a 'two tier' food system.
Panel discussion starts on Risk Management and Mitigation Strategies with Rob Mercer, Packington Pork and Packington Free Range - LEAF Marque certified business; Roger Young, Agroisolab; Geraint Richards, Duchy of Cornwall and Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive.
Rob Mercer - if we want customers to support us, then we need to actively support our local communities. LEAF Open Farm Sunday does a great job in connecting people with their food and the work farmers do.
Roger Young, Chief Executive Officer, Agroisolab:
Outlines the work of Agroisolab in validation of food and non-food products including timber which is a good example of supply chain being long in both time and distance.
Geraint Richards, Head Forester, Duchy of Cornwall:
We need to embrace a holistic view of land management. Risks we are facing as custodians of the land are unprecedented. We need to address these risks across disciplines. Key risks to forestry industry:
Climate change and associated weather patterns
Threats of pests and diseases causing landscape scale change
Markets - volatility - at mercy of global markets
Education - educating the younger generations to inform and inspire to pursue forestry as chosen career. Also helping raise awareness of the public so they are aware of these wider risks.
Regulation and collaboration
Transformation to change practices to create far more diverse woodlands. Embed resilience into our woodlands.
Caroline Drummond, LEAF Chief Executive:
Production risks - disease, pests, harvest challenges
Market risks - right product, sufficient product
Legal risks - not knowing what the rules are and unintended consequences
Human risks - sufficient labour, ethical choices.
Farmers try and mitigate against these risks to ensure they have a business fit for business. Integrated Farm Management gives and opportunity to questions, plan and access the risks.
Building more and better consumer trust. Communication and sharing information is key.
Panel discussion explores food fraud enforcement, traceability, power of retailers, recognising value of assurance schemes in demonstrating where farmers are 'getting it right' and helping to add value and build capability.
Discussions continue on understanding complexity and communicating this complexity to our customers to raise their awareness of the breadth of issues the food and farming sector has to address. One of the answers for the customer is 'branding'. The more farmers can engage with the public will help with trust and understanding the complexities.
Panel explores how farmers can get credit in the marketplace for the genuine work they are doing to enhance the environment and produce safe food.
Afternoon kicks off with Brian Irwin, Chairman, Irwin's Bakery, Northern Ireland. Irwins Bakery is fourth generation family owned business producing a range of Irish speciality breads, muffins, cakes and biscuits. Supplying all major supermarkets in Ireland and GB including Tesco, Sainsburys and Spar. Major input is flour at 13,000 tonnes per annum.
Volume of flour and grain is traceable right back to the farm where it was produced. Operating a short supply chain which is a real asset that this country has. The milling industry has to make more of this short supply chain which is robust and transparent.
Brian Irwin: a range of issues to be addressed: drive for lower costs, ever more stringent control of agrochemicals and Brexit - new trade deals and whether standards will be compromised.
The focus is on controls, consistency and conformity.
Ingredients that work that are nutritionally rich
Development of terroir fro grains - trace elements, nutrition and flavours
"we must address consumer needs and requirements from the farm"
Think about more development of higher yielding ancient varieties of wheat.
Next up: Andy Mitchell - Category Manager, Sainsbury's
Sainsbury's celebrate 150 anniversary in 2019 - their mission then remains the same today - supplying quality food that customers could trust and afford. Trust has always been part of the Sainsbury culture.
150 years on principles remain the same to be the most trusted retailer. Work closely with suppliers, know our supply chain, audit for compliance and know our risks. All work together to ensure full traceability of our supply chain. It is all driven by risk management.
Andy Mitchell: Social media has ramped up the power of consumers and the way they are able to communication about a range of issues - quality of products, legality, safety, ethics and sustainability.
Retailers have plenty of tools to manage risks:
Codes of Practice
In country skills
LEAF Marque demonstrates that our suppliers meet high levels of environmental care.
Q&A's around food testing, bio-geochemistry, risks associating with merging diverse businesses and addressing vulnerabilities in the food supply chain.
Discussion Panel begins with 4 speakers:
Mark Suthern, National Head of Agriculture, Barclays, Tom Green, LEAF Marque Chairman, James Young, Agriculture, Birds Eye Nomad Foods and Sian Edmunds, Partner, Burges Salmon.
Mark Suthern says topic of today's conference is as relevant to the banking industry. Opportunities for the food industry to have its own defence plan - but who will own it. Barclays help and support a vibrant rural community:
People - attracting new entrants and enthusing young people about the food and farming industry
Technology and its use - data, drones urban farming - how do we use this technology to build resilience in the food supply chain
Soil and water management - how do we in the UK start building our resilience
Brexit - use of labour and trade agreements
We have a really resilient supply chain and there are opportunities to be had.
Tom Green, LEAF Marque Chairman:
Our food industry is renowned across the world for its range, quality, safety and value. World class food delivering quality food to consumers at a good price.
People want to know where there food comes from, their food has been sourced in a way that protects the environment and avoids the exploitation of people. Farm assurance is critical in delivering confidence, protection and resilience. LEAF Marque is designed to help farmers farm more sustainably.
LEAF is committed to going beyond regulation. Using IFM and its management tools to record continuous improvement. Lots of research shows that consumers trust independent farm assurance. Schemes like LEAF Marque must remain independent. But trust has to be earned from robust standards, effective measures and strong measures of impact.
LEAF has been setting the agenda in this area for over a quarter of a century. We are looking at ways to collaborate with other assurance schemes, including Red Tractor to help them enhance what they do through LEAF's experience. We want to be the vehicle to deploy best practice around robust standards. LEAF Marque is the exemplar that helps develops excellence in the future.
James Young, Agriculture Director, Birds Eye Nomad Foods:
Confidence and resilience is part of the day job - value of a brand and what it brings to the consumer is huge. Drives a lot of what the business does.
Responsible source is where LEAF comes in. Needs ways of managing that responsibility and our relationship with our suppliers is where it all begins. R&D is a big part of our relationship with our farmers - part of our cooperation and relationship with farmers.
All discussions today are relevant to us all - we are all consumers.
Sian Edmunds, Partner, Burges Salmon LLP
Laws covering safety and labelling of foods which are pretty good in the UK. Unlimited fines and prison sentences around 'food crime'. However, they are implemented after the event so the key question is how do we prevent these incidences happening in the first place?
Law requires all food business to take all the necessary precautions to avoid incidences of food fraud. To apply a due diligence approach.
Blockchain technology and other auditing processes to look at the provenance of ingredients. The ability of business to say to consumers where they know the sources of all their ingredients verified by an independent body makes good commercial sense.
Panel discussion explores a range of topics including:
Ideas around a food defence plan and what this would look like.
Learning from other countries about protection of water and soil and the importance of knowledge sharing and investment in R&D.
Trust in the supply chain
Risks around volume, volatility, resilience. availability of crop protection products
'Golden Triangle' in Holland - government institutes, research centres and the industry. All about data sharing. We have to embrace this model in the UK to collaborate across sectors to address shared challenges. Try avoiding problems in the first place rather than solving problems as they occur.
Assurance schemes need to be working closer together to use a single set of measures. We need to give assurance to consumers that the whole of our industry is compliant with a single set of standards.
We underestimate innovation and resilience in the farming sector. Increased collaboration is absolutely key - knowledge transfer and a willingness to work together with drive forward positive change.
Cedric Porter, LEAF Vice Chairman summarises the day:
We all want safe secure supplies of sustainable food. In the UK we are fortunate to have an abundance of food. Our speakers today have not been complacent - all have demonstrated a desire to do things better. A precautionary attitude - looking ahead and finding solutions to problems before they occur. LEAF has built a system to deliver safe and sustainable food through its LEAF Marque assurance system which can be used across the food supply chain.
Huge thanks for tuning into the live commentary from today's LEAF Annual Conference, to our speakers for their insights, delegates for their engagement and to our wonderful hosts, Barclays for providing such a spectacular venue. Thank you to all. Images, speakers presentations and a video from the day will be on the website very soon!