Fresh Produce Journal’s second annual conference, The UK Fruit & Vegetable Congress – FPJ Live – yesterday (28 April) welcomed record numbers of delegates and was trending fifth on Twitter across the UK.
The conference, held at Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire, was the fifth most talked-about topic on Twitter in the UK at one point during the day under the hashtag #FPJLive15, according to monitoring website trending-uk.com, as delegates took to social media to continue the debates raised in sessions, and comment on the calibre of speakers.
Having sold out a month before the event, delegates included leading figures from the supply chain, including senior managers from Lidl, Aldi, Waitrose, M&S and Tesco, as well as key growers and suppliers.
Speakers in the first session included Kantar’s Ed Garner, who presented a goldmine of information on current multiple retail trends and market share, as well as M&S’ Johnathan Sutton, who outlined the retailer’s support for British growers.
Tesco’s agricultural director Tom Hind and the retailer's fresh food programme manager Simon Reeves explained how the retailer will move forward from both a sourcing and in-store perspective.
After lunch, Birmingham wholesale market’s Mark Tate explained why retail could learn from the relationships in the wholesale sector, while procurement director at EIPC, Mike Attwood, and food consultant Robbie Smith gave their views on ‘Beyond the Big Four’.
Other speakers included LEAF’s chief executive Caroline Drummond, chair of the Horticulture Innovation Partnership Mary Bosley, head of research at the HDC Jon Knight, and managing director of G’s Fresh Salads, Dan Cross.
All sessions were followed by lively Q&A debates with the panel, which were supported by thought provoking questions from the floor and followed up by comments on social media.
“We were delighted that such a large number of senior industry figures, from growers and suppliers to supermarkets and wholesalers, came to discuss the evolution of the UK supply chain yesterday," said FPJ editor and conference chair, Michael Barker. "The quality of the speaker presentations was outstanding, and it was great to see so many industry friends during the day.
"The fact that #FPJLive15 was trending number five in the UK on Twitter yesterday afternoon shows that the event has already established itself as the leading conference for the fresh produce industry in this country, and that there is huge appetite for independent, no-nonsense debate within our trade.
“Having sold out more than a month beforehand, we look forward to moving to a bigger venue next year and further cementing the UK Fruit & Vegetable Congress as the must-attend conference and networking event in the calendar."