A wide range of top-class speakers and topics will feature in the Inspiration and Innovation tents at the June Festival in Kent

Festival of Fresh 2022 is promising a rich mix of fantastic speakers across two tents as it throws the spotlight on the present and future of the UK fresh produce industry.

Hosted outdoors at Berry Gardens’ new packing and distribution site near Maidstone on 8 June, the event features a packed programme of interactive content focused on both Inspiration and Innovation. 

Inspirational thinking

In the Inspiration Tent, following an introduction by Berry Gardens’ CEO Nick Allen, the day begins with an industry leaders panel discussion, where attendees will have the chance to put their questions to new NFU Horticulture Board chair Martin Emmett, British Growers’ CEO Jack Ward, British Apples & Pears executive chair Ali Capper and British Summer Fruits’ chief Nick Marston.

Talks and interviews follow on the subject of Production & Trade, with speakers including co-MDs of fast-growing fresh produce giant Jupiter Group, Mark and Yvonne Tweddle, as well as NCGM tenants’ association chair Gary Marshall and Nigel West from Tropical Fresh.

Looking at the major issues facing modern business, APS Group’s Phil Pearson will address the topic of producing and innovating at a time of intense cost pressure, while MDS operations director Sapphira Waterson will explain how the graduate scheme is both expanding, and helping recruit ex-army personnel into industry jobs.

After a delicious lunch and opportunity to see displays of sumptuous fresh produce in the FOF22 Market Street, the focus of the Inspiration Tent switches to Retail & Marketing, with expert analysis of the sector from grocery commentator Steve Dresser, and inspirational branding with Barfoots’ Kim Barfoot-Brace and Berry Gardens’ Rob Harrison. Retailer participation is expected to be confirmed shortly.

Innovating for the future

Over in the Innovation Tent, meanwhile, the morning programme focuses on the road to net-zero production. NFU Energy director Jon Swain will discuss some of the new technologies helping the horticultural sector, while former AHDB Horticulture Board chair and sustainability consultant Hayley Campbell-Gibbons will look at how producers can navigate the tricky world of carbon-neutral products. Oli Kaberry, head of business operations at The Jones Food Company, will also outline some of the company’s industry-leading work in vertical farming.

In the afternoon, science is under the microscope with the University of Lincoln’s Simon Pearson outlining the work of the Agricultural Universities Council, ItsFresh’s Rob Ward talking shelf-life extension, robotics demonstrations and a series of quickfire presentations revealing groundbreaking PhD research that could solve a raft of industry problems.

Lively and interactive

The programme follows Fruitnet events’ trademark quick-fire format, with short and punchy presentations combined with a mixture of panel discussions, one-to-one interviews and lighthearted elements. There will be opportunity to ask questions and make comments, as well as relax and network throughout at the various social stations and stands across the festival. Further speakers will also be announced in the coming weeks.

Tours of Berry Gardens’ brand new packhouse will also give delegates a chance to see an industry-leading, environmentally friendly production facility up close.

Tickets will go on sale shortly at www.fpjlive.com.