Allan, who is general manager and director for Cargill Meats Europe, was speaking at the BFFF annual lunch in London last week (Tuesday November 26) – his first major engagement as president since taking over from Nick Shaw, Westbridge Foods’ group commercial director.
While welcoming the signs of an improvement in the economy, Allan noted the past year had been particularly difficult for the sector. He also said consumer spending was still under considerable pressure.
“At long last the green shoots of recovery for the economy are beginning to be seen, but household budgets remain stubbornly challenged, with disposable income still severely reduced and the coalition struggling to make dents in the huge budget deficit,” he said.
He also highlighted the damage done to the frozen food supply chain by the horsemeat contamination scandals in the earlier part of the year.
‘The year of horsegate’
“2013 will go down as the year of horsegate,” said Allan. “The effect on the frozen supply chain, along with the media attention on the food industry, has resulted in reduced consumer confidence.
“All players in the supply chain are now re-examining how consumer confidence can be restored, how supply chains can be made more secure and radically reviewing our approach to preventing food fraud. BFFF is working closely with Leatherhead [Food Research], British Retail Consortium and others to help set appropriate standards.”
Over the past six months the BFFF has undergone a strategic review of its structure as it moves to a new five-year planning cycle. The organisation is changing from one based on a committee structure in favour of a board of directors. It expects to sign off the proposals for this restructuring and begin consulting on them with its members in the Spring of 2014.
“Our aim is to be the ‘go to’ trade association for all those involved in the cold chain and for key opinion formers,” said Allan.
Over the past year the BFFF has replaced its consumer web site www.thenewiceage, with one focusing on tips for consumers cooking with frozen foods, called www.coolcookery.co.uk.
Retention of anti-oxidants
It has also commissioned a major piece of research from Chester University and Leatherhead Food Research on the retention of anti-oxidants in frozen fruit and vegetables. This showed that frozen foods performed significantly better than fresh in retaining anti-oxidants in 66% of the tests for fruit and vegetables, said Allan.
“This report will now be considered for a scientific peer review and will be presented at a Nutrition Society conference,” he added.
Over the year BFFF became the first trade association to take advantage of forming a ‘primary authority’ relationship with Wakefield Council and Cambridgeshire County Council in food labelling, food safety, health and safety and weights and measures, said Allan.