“Unlike most politicians, frozen food is totally trustworthy,” stated Nigel Broadhurst in harnessing the run-up to the general election in the United Kingdom to launch his own manifesto for the frozen food industry during a speech to 900 business leaders attending the British Frozen Food Federation’s (BFFF) Annual Luncheon at London’s Hilton Park Lane on November 26.
The BFFF president’s address highlighted the important role of frozen food in reducing the carbon footprint of the food supply chain and called on government officials to at long last resolve the Brexit issue.
Broadhurst, who is also joint managing director of Iceland Foods, praised the industry’s positive environmental impact in food waste reduction, lauded the nutritional quality of frozen food products and their ability to save consumers money, applauded the world class production standards of frozen food producers, and saluted their generation of skilled jobs throughout the supply chain.
“Our environmental credentials are first rate. We don’t fly fresh vegetables around the world every day, any necessary transport is done by much more efficient shipping routes generating much less carbon emissions, enabling us to guarantee high quality, convenient food, to be available 365 days a year.”
He also made the case for reduced food waste: It’s an amazing statistic, but it’s true, that in the UK we throw away around one third of the food we buy. Of that 61% or 4.1 million tons are avoidable. The most common reason for this waste is fresh food left unused and as an example, we throw away 1.4 million tons of fresh fruit and vegetables every year. UK households on average pay £420 for food each year that is thrown away. Every ton of food waste is responsible for 4.5 tons of CO2.”
This is yet another economic reason to switch to frozen, said the BFFF president, who added: “Freezing a crop such as peas, ensures the entire crop is available for sale as sometimes excess fresh crops need to be ploughed back into the field or left to rot simply because of their short life.”
Broadhurst went on to highlight the nutritional value of frozen, saying: “Frozen food is much more nutritious than most fresh food items. We flash freeze our food, so we don’t have to use additional preservatives, maintaining freshness and integrity for much longer. Fresh produce loses vitamins during storage, but freezing vegetables uses nature’s pause button, locking in those crucial vitamins and minerals.”
He added: “So it is with great pride that I ask you to vote for frozen food and continue to collaborate together to foster an industry which delivers market leading growth, innovation that is second to none, investment in manufacturing and logistics capability and food of the safest, highest quality possible.”
Urgent Need for Brexit Resolution
Turning his attention to current political issues affecting the industry, the British Frozen Food Federation president called for a swift end to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit – whatever the outcome of the general election. He said that the “black cloud” of Brexit means important decisions about future investments are being delayed by many BFFF members.
“When I addressed you last year, I was confident that by this lunch date the dreaded Brexit would be long behind us, but sadly our beloved politicians have not only dragged decision making through months of debate and disagreement, but they have now effectively bounced it back to us in the form of a general election,” said Broadhurst.
He continued: “We all need a swift and decisive solution to the Brexit issue, whatever our individual political views or attitude to Brexit. I’m sure we all agree that our businesses have been seriously impacted by the level of uncertainty that is hovering over the UK like a heavy black cloud, and I am certain we all have examples of major decisions being held in abeyance until there is clarity on our position in relation to Europe.”
In addition to the Brexit uncertainly which is impacting currency, employment, future growth opportunities, exports and investment in capital projects, Broadhurst added that the consequence of ASF swine fever outbreak in China and other major pork production and consumption countries has created unprecedented demand for all forms of protein, resulting in higher prices for meat products.
“So, let’s hope that a general election result is able to draw a line under at least the Brexit issue,” said the BFFF president.
He concluded: “We are an alliance of foodservice, retail, manufacturing and trading professionals, skilled in the art of marketing, manufacturing and selling high quality frozen food products. Our industry is the fastest growing sector of the food industry with realistic sights on a combined turnover of £10 billion.”