Seafox Management Consultants Ltd
Office F6
The Enterprise Village
Prince Albert Gardens
Grimsby
N.E. Lincs
DN31 3AT

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Seafox's Managing Director, Simon Dwyer, was the Master of Ceremonies at the recent Bondholders Regional Food Event:

As one of the largest and fastest growing markets in Europe, Bondholder members enjoyed a slice of what's happening in the thriving food and drink market last week, with speakers of regional, national and international acclaim taking centre stage. 
Marking the close of the Bondholder Breakfast calendar for 2015, a packed room of 150 delegates at the Humber Royal Hotel, Grimsby were offered a deep insight in to the shape of the industry, key trends and the importance of meeting consumer satisfaction. The prominence of the Humber region as a vital food provider was also promoted - being home to the largest concentration of food industries in the UK with over 500 companies operating here.

Tim Rycroft, Corporate Affairs Director for the Food & Drink Federation - the UK's leading voice for the Industry, was first to take the stage.

'Our job is to promote industry, to help it become more successful, said Tim. 'Health and wellbeing, food safety and sustainability are all major areas of strategic focus for us.

'Business people are parents, all of us are consumers and we all face the same challenges and decisions. Business is generating growth, creating employment and wealth. We cannot allow the idea that profit motive is anything other than a good thing.'

He added: 'The food and drink industry in the UK is genuinely world class generating £22 billion gross value. The UK economy in terms of total sales at the farm and factory door is worth £100 billion. To put that in to context, that is larger than automotive sector or bigger than defence and aerospace sectors put together.

'This area is in many ways the food and drink capital. You have amazing strategic advantages. A huge amount of extremely productive agricultural land, access to land and labour at relatively low cost and fantastic access to other markets, as well as 40 million people within four hours reach. With 30,000 people employed in the Humber it really is a strategic hub for UK food and drink.'

Second to present was Jonathan Banks, a senior Fast Moving Consumer Goods professional specialising in tracking and predicting consumer behaviour and trends. As a leading consultant, helping manufacturers and retailers formulate winning strategies, Jonathan emphasised the importance of placing consumers at the heart of business.

He said: 'What works is giving the consumer what they want. The four 'megatrends' that have emerged are centred on Health & Wellbeing, Convenience/Practicality, Ethical and Indulgence/Pleasure. Being 'nice to eat' is the ultimate driver, with 83% of us wanting the product to satisfy our taste buds over having less salt or sugar for example.' 

He went on to discuss the top twenty innovations of the 20th Century being predominantly convenience orientated, such as vacuum-packed, microwavable and frozen meals. 'This offers strong indicators as to how we as consumers are engaging with food and it's never been more important for manufacturers, retailers and big brands to understand the significance of how our behaviour is shaping demand.' 

Echoing this point, Simon Smith, Managing Director of Icelandic Seachill, addressed the audience. The Grimsby-based £300 million turnover operation is a testament to regional success, with its Saucy Fish brand listed among the UK's top coolest brands - rubbing shoulders with likes of Apple, Vogue and Aston Martin to name but a few.

Having invested half a million pounds in research and to get in to the mind-set of consumers, it's clear that Icelandic Seachill places substantial importance on the development of products that mirror consumer wants and needs.

'Our vison is simple - more people, more fish, more often' Simon explained. 'Our businesses and product development is driven by consumer insight and this helped us to understand that people are scared of fish - how to prepare it, cook it, how to make it taste good and what to marry with it. 

Fish takes on average 33 minutes to prepare, so it's on the cusp of time for evening meal preparation. We have learnt that it's about the dish not the fish and when consumers decide to purchase something, they do so with their hearts and minds. It's an emotional decision, so we have worked hard to create tasty dishes that speak from the shelf.'

A video of 'A Special School of Fish' promotion held by the Grimsby seafood giant this summer, was aired at the event, on the day the nation held its breath for the John Lewis festive advert. And for those passionate about seafood, the result was the same, as cute kids volunteered the information the industry is desperate to impart; be it ease of cooking, taste, or time to prepare.

Speaking of the Humber, Simon added that location, knowledge and skills were key components for the successful operation of their business, stating the Humber offered 'a true cluster of expertise needed to drive this forward'.

Closing the Breakfast event's stellar line-up, Allan Rice, founder of Atom Beers and self-confessed 'Chief Beer Geek', gave an impressive account of his 22 month old business.

Blending scientific principle, brewing knowledge and raw enthusiasm, Atom creates beers that are flavour forward and uses world class ingredients to craft their own unique style. 

The brainchild of Allan Rice and his partner Sarah, the business has received national acclaim since its humble beginnings in 2014. Last year Atom won Business Start-up of the Year and Allan has subsequently been nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.

Allan said: 'We came to the Humber region as it offered the opportunity to work with people who could help shape and innovate products to engage the next generation of beer lovers. Craft beer has blood, sweat and tears in it and as the fastest growing segment within the sector (34% growth in 2014), now is the time to take on the big brands and demonstrate what can be done with an innovative and creative approach.'

To close, Allan detailed how Atom has produced 450 thousand litres of beer to date and is already rated within the top 50 breweries worldwide. With true entrepreneurial spirit and a creative, yet strategic vision for the future of their business, Atom is a true key regional asset and is set to become a leading player in the international craft beer market.

 

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