Marks & Spencer tackles plant-based food at web conference

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The event will look at the full range of plant-based products and tackle technical and production issues
The event will look at the full range of plant-based products and tackle technical and production issues

Related tags vegan Npd Supply chain Ingredients & nutrition

James Fisher, product development lead for Marks and Spencer's vegan sub-brand Plant Kitchen, will cover what the retailer looks for from plant-based suppliers at Food Manufacture's Plant-based Protein conference on 31 March.

Fisher hails from the world of chefs, restaurants and food production and has spent many years as a product developer, including stints at Daylesford Organic, Harrods and other artisan brands.

He will give a 15-minute presentation on approaches to plant-based product development and innovation, giving an overview of consumer market trends from a retail perspective. This will include which food categories or occasions offer the most competition and the most opportunities.

Fisher will discuss common themes cropping up in dialogue with suppliers and prevailing consumer concerns that should influence suppliers' approach to product development, such as attitudes to sustainability. And he will cover what they need to think about with regard to communicating the nutritional content of products and how they can pitch for contracts and maintain them.

Operations managers, technical managers and product developers

The Future of Plant-Based Proteins: Roots of Further Growth​ virtual conference is pitched primarily at operations managers, technical managers and product developers and will be composed of five sessions. It will examine the full range of plant-based products, from meat analogues and beverages to dairy-free products.

A morning panel featuring Zak Weston, foodservice and supply chain manager for the Good Food Institute, and Edward Bergen, global food & drink analyst for Mintel, will highlight emerging foodservice and retail trends. The panel will also discuss the potential for plant-based meat and offer essential insight for companies looking to carve out a niche in the face of intense competition.

Other scheduled panel discussions will tackle plant-based processing issues, the latest trends in plant-based functional ingredients and how plant-based products can deliver nutritionally.

The event will offer a processor’s perspective, with Ralph Langholz, head of alternative proteins at Micarna, outlining his company’s approach to plant-based production and its strategy for making the most of market opportunities.

Nutritional issues

An afternoon session will drill down to nutritional issues surrounding plant-based products and include a presentation from Jo Baker Perrett, food scientist at Campden BRI, on its Developing Plant Proteins Project. This will be followed by a panel debate featuring Judy Buttriss, director-general of the British Nutrition Foundation, and Bronwyn Hawker, NPD manager for plant-based baby and children's food brand Mia & Ben.

Platinum sponsors for the virtual conference are Radicle and Roquette, the gold sponsor is Atlantic Natural Foods, and supporting the event are Cargill, Firmenich, Ingredion, Mane and Symrise.

The virtual conference, which will also include networking lobby sessions, runs from 9.30am to 3.15pm and the ticket price is £125 plus VAT.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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