Searching for a Food Manufacture hero

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chief executive, Groceries code adjudicator, Food

Who would you like to see win?
Who would you like to see win?
The Food Manufacture Group is searching for a food and drink manufacturing hero and we need your help to find winning candidate.

We are searching for the man or woman who has done the most over the past year to raise the profile of the food and drink industry or build the profitability of their manufacturing business.

Part of the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards (FMEAs), this award will go to one of six candidates chosen by the editorial team and we need your help to choose the winner.

The shortlist

The shortlisted candidates are: Kevin Brennan, chief executive, Quorn Foods, Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder Genius Foods, Jeremy Hall, group technical director, Bernard Matthews, Christine Tacon, Groceries Code Adjudicator, Chris Thomas, chief executive, Tulip and Roger Whiteside, chief executive, Greggs.

Read the short profiles below of each candidate before placing your vote here​.

Your choice will help to decide who takes the Personality of the Year crown from last year’s winner, Greencore boss Patrick Coveney​.

The winner will be announced at a gala, carnival-themed celebration dinner at the Lancaster hotel in London on Tuesday November 3.

2015 Personality of the Year Nominees

Kevin Brennan​, Quorn Foods chief executive, is a man on a mission: to build the meat substitute Quorn into a truly global brand, while notching up sales of £200M this year.

Brennan is within striking distance of his target, after announcing a 7% rise in annual sales to £150M in January this year. Another boost to help him achieve his ambition was the £40M investment programme announced in March. This year-long investment plan - including £3M earmarked for research and development - will be directed towards furthering the firm's global expansion.

Just over four years into his role as boss of Quorn Foods, Brennan certainly has the global business pedigree to realise the firm's ambitious growth plans. His CV includes spells as Kellogg's director Australia and general manager New Zealand, along with a spell as Kellogg Europe's European marketing director.

Quorn Foods currently exports to 15 markets across the globe, with sales in Germany, Finland and Denmark expected to double over the next 12 months. To supply the projected rise in global demand, Quorn Foods plans a £30M investment at its Billingham plant near Middlesbrough.

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne​, founder Genius Foods established the firm to provide tasty gluten-free bread for her son, who had been diagnosed as gluten intolerant. After failing to find any decent products for sale, she decided to create something herself. In 2009 Genius bread hit the supermarket shelves.

Today, not only is the company selling more than 1M loaves a year in the UK, Genius is making inroads to sell baguettes to the French. She is also endeavouring to make gluten-free products healthier by reducing their fat, salt and sugar content.

Last year, Bruce-Gardyne reported that Genius Foods had a £40M turnover, 73% year-on-year growth, 450 staff and had 20 products on the market, with more being launched this year. She claimed to have 52% of the gluten-free bread market.

Jeremy Hall​, group technical director, Bernard Matthews has been actively campaigning to encourage retailers to adopt new processing measures to reduce the high incidence of campylobacter on fresh chicken. Specifically, he has supported new rapid surface chilling technology, which, for about 10p on the price of a chicken, would slash campylobacter contamination levels.

He has played a role in the British Poultry Council technical committee for over 20 years; sits on the British Meat Processors Association technical group; jointly chaired the white meat policy group in the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and now chairs the Campden BRI member interest group for meat and poultry.

Christine Tacon​, Groceries Code Adjudicator,  has tough skin. Since becoming the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) in January 2013, she's taken some serious stick from critics about the relevance of her role. Two years in, however, and the industry could finally be set to witness what action the GCA can take.

She regulates the interactions between the 10 largest supermarkets in the UK, with an annual turnover of £1bn, and their direct suppliers.

Earlier this year, she was granted the power to fine retailers 1% of turnover if they were found to be in breach of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP). Tacon launched an investigation into Tesco in February, following evidence about delayed payments.

Her role and the work she's done, she says, has already had a direct effect on food manufacturers. “I've been getting comments from suppliers who are saying things are getting better because of me,”​ she said.

Chris Thomas​, chief executive, Tulip is a qualified chartered engineer who has worked in the food industry for more than 30 years, holding senior management positions with Pepsi, St Ivel, Geest-Bakkavor and most recently as chief executive of Adelie Foods.

He's certainly put the skills he gained at these major food and drink manufacturers to good use since he took over as chief executive of meat processor Tulip, in May 2013.

From that time onwards, Thomas has championed the pork industry and has spearheaded a tranche of investments in Tulip's UK factories via its owner Danish Crown.

That includes more than £37M poured into its Ashton, Spalding and Westerleigh abattoirs last year to support a major export push into China. Indeed, Thomas reckons its pork sales to the Chinese market racked up £30-£40M in 2014 and sees big potential in that region.

Roger Whiteside​, chief executive, Greggs, formed a strategic plan centred on growing the food-on-the-go market, which appears to be paying off for the high-street baker, boosting its sales and earning plaudits from retail analysts, following a tough couple of years for the high street baker.

Under Whiteside's leadership, the firm has invested in new stores, shop refits and new product development over the past 12 months.

The Newcastle-based business identified new additions to its breakfast goods and healthier sandwiches as key drivers for the growth. It could also benefit from further growth from its Balanced Choice range - released in the spring - which included upgraded salads, a summer berry fruit pot and own-label drinks range.

As well as opening new stores in Britain, the baker also opened its first store in Northern Ireland, just off the M2, in a partnership with forecourt and motorway service operator Applegreen in April.

Place your vote here​.

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