Business Leaders’ Forum highlights: Sustainability, skills and nutrition

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Training & recruitment vegan

The environment, sustainability, skills and the sugar tax topped the agenda at this year’s Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders’ Forum, according to host sponsor Walker Morris.

In this exclusive interview filmed at the event, Walker Morris partner and head of food and drink Richard Naish shared his insights from the debate.

“Environment and sustainability were at the forefront of manufacturers’ minds and that came through in the debate,”​ he said. “There was a lot of talk about the meat industry and the ‘vegan revolution’, which is currently a hot topic in the media – whether it is the revolution from the debate today is yet to be seen.

Required skills

“Closely behind that, we were chatting a lot about skills and the skills gap and the shift away from the traditional skills required by a food manufacturer. You think of an engineer working with a spanner, they’re now likely to be working with a laptop and need a computer sciences degree to be able to service the machinery they are employed to do.

Commenting on the skills gap, Naish discussed the role Walker Morris plays in helping food and drink manufacturers meet the challenges posed by that uncertainty around migration laws in a post-Brexit landscape. 

He also weighed in on regulation on food reformulation to remove fat, salt and sugar from the product manufacturers produce and if self-regulation was the way forward.


“I think self-regulation works well, but it’s also critically important from a competition perspective to ensure there is a level playing field,”​ Naish continued.

“My view is that, ultimately, there will be some legislation in this area and the key thing for manufacturers will be to make sure of their lead time to ensure they are able to reformulate products to meet the requirements.”

Meanwhile, look out for more video interviews from this year’s Business Leaders’ Forum. In addition to host sponsor Walker Morris, EDF Energy was also associate sponsor for the event.

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