FoodManufacture.co.uk caught up with Paterson on the phone after his March 31 visit to McDonald’s supplier OSI Food Solutions in Scunthorpe, owned by US-based OSI Group, in this exclusive podcast.
Paterson recently also visited Mondelēz International’s Cadbury plant at Bournville, near Birmingham, during National Apprenticeship Week to discover how it was supporting apprenticeships. However, both this site and the Scunthorpe facility are ultimately benefiting from the backing of US owners.
Asked why more UK-owned companies weren’t flashing the cash, Paterson responded: “I think we are. I think that’s a bit unfair. I think we’re seeing this across the food industry.”
The latest figures showed numbers of apprentices in the food manufacturing had leapt from 1,700 to 7,500, said Paterson. “We would never have got to 7,500 if it was only foreign-owned companies [investing].
“I think we shouldn’t get hung up about this. I was really impressed by the huge investment in Mondelēz at Bournville in what is an absolutely quintessential British brand name. I’m delighted to see them investing in it and bringing in lots of bright young local people.”
Paterson met three students participating in the McDonald’s Progressive Young Farmer training programme at OSI Food Solutions’ Scunthorpe factory to discuss the importance of skills and training in farming.
Niall Morrow, Lindsay Carnell and Lauren Hladun are mentored by farmers and gain practical farming and business management experience. Their tutoring culminates with a week working in a McDonald’s restaurant and they have the opportunity to see how the whole food supply chain works.
The initiative is part of McDonald’s Farm Forward scheme, which aims to secure a sustainable future for British and Irish farming through means such as improving animal welfare and promoting knowledge sharing.
For more comments from Paterson on Farm Forward and OSI Food Solutions’ work, listen to this podcast.
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