To start, could you introduce yourself?
I was born and live in Lincolnshire, England. I am a family person with three children and love the outdoors, exploring new places and travelling around the UK and Ireland. My interests are sports, people, places and politics. Add to that food and having some fun and a laugh.
What’s your background and previous experience?
I went to the Royal Agricultural University, then started my career in agriculture, growing breeding pigs for Pig Improvement Company. Eventually, I was promoted to farm manager taking over the responsibility of the arable unit, which grew winter cereals. I was challenged to take the farm and diversify both the enterprises and the arable unit's biodiversity - trees & hedges planting.
Later on, you’ve changed careers to Kemin, an entirely different business.
I felt I had achieved my goals and so moved on - jumped over the fence and joined Kemin's Animal Nutrition & Health division. There I was able to work with nutritionists, vets and the allied trade selling additives into the livestock feed industry.
What’s the most significant difference between working in the Agrifoods business and your current position in the food market?
In the Agrifoods business we strive for healthy animal production via quality feed, whereas at Kemin Food Technologies, we strive to keep food products safer and fresher, for longer, to which I can eat the finished product and enjoy! Through "Protection and Performance" we enable our customers to offer quality products to the market with a longer shelf life. This allows supermarkets to keep the food longer on the shelf, eliminating unnecessary waste. And families can keep the food longer at home which creates a win-win situation.
What’s unique about the British and Irish food markets?
They are dynamic - it all starts with great welfare and environments from our feed and livestock industry, followed by fantastic creativity and flare in designing foods. Gone are the days of no choice and tasteless foods to having a huge, diverse selection of tasty, high quality with a range catering for different cooking ability and styles. I especially like our choices, from English cuisine to how we colonise great foods from around the world. The design and technology in foods for new emerging markets, which cater to people with certain allergies or beliefs or for those that just want something different but full of taste, is amazing. I give all credit to our food developers and those that let them be so creative.
What food applications are most popular?
All The diversity is amazing, and it brings along challenges and innovation. But It also creates lots of opportunity for Kemin. Let's take our love for "fried foods", whether snacks like crisps or fried chicken as an example. Kemin offers an entire range of solutions with the FrySMART™ platform of products. FORTI-FRY™ can extend the frying life of the oil, while FORTIUM® RG20 Liquid, a synergistic combination of natural rosemary extract and gallic acid, can extend the shelf life of the fried product.
Now that we know the market, which Kemin solutions are most sought after?
Chemical replacements like nitrites, sodium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate with natural plant extracts to give a label-friendly ingredients declaration regarding food safety and / or to protect the taste, flavour and colour of the food or beverage over its shelf life.
Do you notice a growing trend towards label-friendly shelf life and food safety ingredients?
Yes, and rightly so. We have so many health issues now like obesity which comes from what we eat. The knock-on effect and cost to our health services and family life is enormous, so to process nutritious food products with label-friendly Ingredients and address these issues while reducing food waste must be a priority. An example here Is salt and sugar reduction. When salt Is reduced in the formulation, this often creates food safety issues. Kemin can help with the addition of BactoCEASE® NV, which is a label-friendly food safety solution.
Is there perhaps a Kemin product that you like best?
I like them all for the following reason; whether a single product or a blend, they all have technical functions for different food and beverage applications. This allows me to work across the entire industry, learning, understanding and of course, tasting. Kemin covers all needs and trends in their product portfolio, ranging from organic, sustainable, natural and label-friendly solutions. Kemin Is also very Innovative, constantly developing new products to cover upcoming needs of my customers in the UK.
You very much hold on to the Farm to Fork-strategy, and around the world, sustainability becomes increasingly important. How is the situation in the food industry in the UK and Ireland?
Sustainability is very much a focus with all sectors involved within agriculture and the food industry, all accepting that more can be achieved, with innovation at the forefront and working together throughout the supply chain. I feel that the UK's vision is to be a world leader, and I believe they will achieve this. The Agriculture Bill is a step in the right direction. Ideally it wants buy in / support from food manufacturers and retailers, and The Food Strategy part 1 is a great example of what we want or need as an industry, a truly great piece of work! I am looking forward to part 2, which is currently being developed.
Brexit has been a hot topic for the past few years. Now that there is a deal, how will it affect the food industry?
Short term will be a settling / transformation period, but the UK is a trading nation with a great history full of entrepreneurial & innovation spirit. In the medium and long term, we will learn, adapt, develop, grow and prosper, becoming a leading light throughout the world.
How do you see the consequences of Brexit? Can you tell us more about how Kemin prepared to keep serving customers?
The consequences of Brexit have now become entwined with the impact of the COVID-pandemic, and the issues of the environment & sustainability are not far behind. Eating habits and lifestyles are changing and will continue to change, but first, the dust must settle. In order to progress, we must all do our bit. At Kemin, our bit is about first and foremost to offer support and listen to our customers, absorb costs by being efficient, sustainable and innovative.
How do you look at the future of the food industry for the UK and Ireland?
I’m an optimistic human being. Like the Sun – the future is big, bright and shines, fuelling us all with life.
What do you like best about your job and Kemin as a company?
The industry's scale and what is taken for granted when we go shopping, with food looking great and simple, but the technology and product development that goes into the food that we buy is amazing. The people I meet never fail to impress me. Their drive and dedication and working with them, finding solutions is very rewarding. I work with a great team, I have the freedom to develop the business, connecting with all aspects of the food & beverage industry.
What’s your personal motto?
My aspirations are always to build on what we have, make improvements, bring people together, be supportive and help others. Most importantly to work hard & smart but have some fun along the way.