Brassica & Leafy Salad Conference 2015 - Inspired thoughts!

Published: 10 Feb 2015

Mike Brown - Fresh Pod, Technical Director. 
Bringing together the Brassica and Leafy Salad's annual conferences for 2015 worked well and with that broadened the speaker content. Whilst the conference presentations are always very good I felt that this year everyone of them was exceptional and very topical. 
The price pressures on fresh produce are well documented and last year saw a lot of merger and acquisition activity in the sector in an effort to scale up further and drive down unit costs. Not surprisingly then Meurig's opening address focussed on production efficiencies through science, political lobbying and continued effort with supply chain management- all essential to maintain farming's fundamental contribution to the economy. 
This was further endorsed by Elena Ozeritska 
It was delightful to see a familiar young graduates name highlighted as part of the team working on the storage life of broccoli. Lisa Wray-French, now working with Debbie Rees, Karen Thurston and Richard Colgan at Greenwich used our consumer Fresh Pod product as the basis for her masters dissertation a couple of years ago and as a piece of work it's quite brilliant in its structure and detail. If anyone would like a copy then do email us as it's essential that these rising stars in the sector get recognised for the major contributions that they make.  
Edward Garner's informative presentation 'the perfect storm' on grocery retailing led perfectly into that made by Azmina Govindji. Azmina is a key opinion leader on nutrition and her message 'just one more' makes perfect sense to encourage more consumption of fruit and vegetables. 
Finally I must highlight Rick Antle's contribution to the conference. Family controlled businesses are as fundamental to the American economy as they are in the UK. Since I did my masters in 2008 on that very subject the continuous use of 'SME' in the UK when making reference to them irks me as it is an injustice and dismissive. They have unique qualities of their own, more often than not great values and seem to have resilience to recessions like no other structure. Ricks forthright stance on Quality, Service, Innovation, Attitude, Ownership and Accountability held nothing back...it was so heartening to hear. 
Tanimura & Antle are the biggest salad producer in the world it seems so who better to ask about waste reduction than Rick himself. You could have knocked me over when he said EC's from California...the very ones we are importing under licence here in Europe as well as the machines we developed with them. 'We have them in our coolers but once the produce leaves us it's someone else's problem'...if the fresh produce supply chain really was simplified to the point that each component was accountable as it is in Ricks world maybe we would start making some inroads into that waste problem??

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