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The English Apple Man


12th Feb 2021 - Commercial and technical review

This week The English Apple Man had the opportunity to review the commercial and technical influences on our fruit industry.


Invited to be a virtual attendee at The City Food Lecture on Wednesday and FAST Technical Conference on Thursday, enabled a better understanding of the technology central to how retail food suppliers deliver our groceries onto our plate and the influences of technical advancement on fruit production in delivering a profit to the primary producer while satisfying the demands of today's retail industry.


This week's English Apple Man Journal will only embrace the top line elements of each event, leaving more detailed coverage for future EAM Journals.


Two elements of the separate events 'hit home' - "the intensity of collecting and interrogating data" by the retail industry and the "huge investment required by the producers" to stay in the competition for customers.



The City Food Lecture is an annual, invitation-only high profile fixture in the City of London and international food industry calendars. Held every February, the Lecture is delivered by a leading figure in the British food business who is invited to speak about the issues they regard as most important in shaping the way food is produced, distributed, marketed, sold and consumed.


Held in the Great Hall at the prestigious Guildhall , the evening is attended by over 650 from across the food sector.



To fully appreciate the organisation of the prestigious Lecture, Click on: The City Food Lecture 2021


To reflect the current climate, the 2021 City Food Lecture was held as a virtual event.


The City Food Lecture was live streamed in the early evening of Wednesday 10th February to an invited virtual audience presenting a variety of interactive tools to comment, share views, ask questions, network and feel fully part of this unique event.


The English Apple Man was delighted to receive an invitation to be a member of that 'virtual audience'


The Key Note Speaker for the City Food Lecture 2021 was Mel Smith CBE, the Chief Executive of Ocado Retail, the world's largest pureplay online grocer.


Formed in February 2019, Ocado Retail is a 50-50 joint venture between M&S and Ocado Group. It is responsible for, online pet store Fetch and Ocado Zoom, a one-hour grocery service. It has a quarter-of-a-million active customers and a 15% share of the UK online grocery market.


The title of the lecture was:


'The role of new technology in the future of UK food retailing'.


Mel Smith discussed how Ocado's model overcomes the challenges facing traditional retailers in serving customers online, and share plans for future online innovation.



Below: left; BBC Presenter Charlotte Smith and right; Charlie Bingham


Following the lecture, there was an interactive Question and Answer session with a panel of food industry specialists chaired by Charlotte Smith, Presenter of BBC's Farming Today.


The three panellists were: Charlie Bigham, the well-known food entrepreneur specialising in providing his own branded high quality ready meals for major retailers. Bighams


James Walton, Chief Economist of IGD, which provides insight training and research for the food and grocery industries, and Laura Winningham, Chief Executive of City Harvest, the London-based charity tackling food poverty.












Below: left; James Walton and right; Laura Winingham




HRH The Princess Royal concluded the event with her closing address


The Princess Royal, as a Past Prime Warden of the Fishmongers and Past Master of both Farmers and Butchers' is a staunch supporter of the City Food Lecture and in the recent past has been the highlight of the event with her thoughtful and insightful reflections on the Lecture as well as her sage words of considered advice!




FAST Top Fruit & Soft Fruit Conferences


The FAST Conference has been an institution for many years and The English Apple Man last attended during my time as UK Technical Director for World Wide Fruit circa 14 years ago.


Again, we will expand upon the Conference content in future EAM Journals.


Chairing the event on Thursday (11th February) afternoon, Graham Moore displayed extracts of presentations created by FAST Technical personnel, with comments form the technical advisors.


The Top Fruit Conference began at 1pm and closed at 2.30pm




- A review of the season


- Labour supply 2021


- Crop load management


- Apples - Top fruit production in S Africa


- Mechanising the harvest


- Cover crops in fruit production


- Plant material


- looking ahead - A guide to other talks - 2.30 pm FINISH


The Soft Fruit Conference began at 2.40pm and closed at 4.10pm




- A review of the season


- Labour supply 2021


- Pesticide changes 2020/21


- Soft fruit crops


- Robots, UVc and plant saunas in strawberry


- Blueberry and cherry production in S America


- Sustainable use of plastic


- Microbial communities in berry growing media


- A guide to other talks - 4.10 pm FINISH integral to


The extensive programme touched on some very important aspects of modern frut production. FAST have a record over several decades of being at the forefront of fruit production techniques and integral to UK top and soft fruit growing.


The English Apple Man will elaborate on the subjects discussed at the FAST Conference in future EAM Journals.


For an 'in depth' understanding of the company. Click on: FAST LLP


That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man