Steve Gogerty, chairman of Canned Food UK, rebutted some of the claims made in Key Note’s recent analysis of the sector, which predicted a continuing fall in volumes and a drift towards overseas production.
“There’s a lot of good stuff in the report, but a lot of it is down to emphasis,” Gogerty told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “We account for £2.4bn a year, which is not a small chunk of the grocery market.”
Industry with pulse
Although Gogerty accepted that the outlook for canned desserts (with the exception of custard) and cooking sauces was not encouraging, he said the report could have highlighted the growing success of canned pulses.
“These have done extremely well,” he said. “A few years ago you would only see butter beans and red kidney beans but now it’s puy lentils, chickpeas and all kinds of organic products.
“Canned food as a category is almost 200 years old – things come and they go. The canned desserts category does look a little bit ill, but you never know – and pulses are coming in to replace it.”
Gogerty argued that volumes were up slightly in 2009-10 and canned goods had held market share despite predictions in the 1990s that frozen food would make further inroads.
He also rejected the Key Note conclusion that canned goods production is increasingly moving abroad in a bid to save costs. “In fact the opposite is happening – Amy’s Kitchen is coming to the UK and opening a cannery in Corby,” he said. “You need to bear in mind that a third of the UK market is imported in any case.”
Recycling figure ‘under-reported’
The Key Note report said that only 2.5bn of the 12.5bn cans bought in the UK each year are recycled, but Gogerty said this was well below the 57% figure quoted by the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association.
Gogerty said canned goods might increase sales in areas not envisaged by the report. “I’m interested in whether ambient will come back,” he said. “So much energy is wasted to keep things cold. Energy costs are increasing and that’s particularly true in the distribution system.”