To mark the start of industry events for 2008, we held our 62nd annual dinner on Saturday, February 2, for the first time at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel. Egypt was the guest nation, and we enjoyed record numbers at this new venue for a highly enjoyable and successful evening.

Michael Velasco emphasised in his speech the importance of the trading relationship between both countries, and His Excellency Ambassador Gehad Madi responded and called for further expansion of opportunities. The ever-popular Dark Blues filled the dance floor, and it was fabulous to see so many of you and to gain such positive feedback as we begin to plan the 2009 event. Our thanks to all of our sponsors, and in particular to Anglia Business Solutions.

Discussions are ongoing with Defra, and an FPC working group is re-forming, which will meet with Plant Health officials in order to assist in the impending implementation of the PEACH system. I look forward to working with you to ensure the ultimate success of this transition.

My thanks to those who have submitted entries for the Re:fresh Awards. Don’t miss the opportunity to achieve the accolade of being a Re:fresh winner. Our conference this year is both topical and exciting - in the wake of the disastrous (depending on your nationality) England v Wales rugby match in the Six Nations championship, let Will Greenwood tell you how to achieve success! Here’s hoping that England will have ultimately redeemed themselves as the championship progresses. The line up for debate and discussion on organics versus conventional is simply not to be missed - look out for the programme in the coming weeks, and if you have not already booked your place, do so online at

Our visit to the Port of Felixstowe with a significant number of importers earlier this month was a resounding success. A tour of the recently developed examination area was of great interest, and we will be keenly watching ongoing developments. The biggest container port in the UK, Felixstowe is key to our industry, and on your behalf we will be returning in the next few weeks to develop our relationship and explore greater integration.