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    Neil Sanderson is leaving the food industry and will be replaced by Floreale Operations Director, Doug Robertson

    Florette UK and Ireland managing director Neil Sanderson is leaving the business to pursue a career outside of the food industry and will be replaced by Floreale operations director Doug Robertson.

    Sanderson, who has been with Florette for five years, will take up the role of director of the York Minster Fund – a body established in the late 1960s in order to raise money for the great work of restoration when the Central Tower was in danger of collapse.

    Robertson has worked across the European fresh produce industry with roles at Asda, Geest and Bakkavor, in operations, procurement and general management.

    He joined the vegetable division of Florette parent company Agrial to become general manager of Florette Murcia, following the acquisition of the French and Spanish businesses of Bakkavor. For the last three years he has been operations director for the division.

    His replacement will be named in the next few weeks.

    “The company wish to thank Neil for his contribution to the company over the last five years,” a statement from Florette said.

    “We are also delighted to announce that Doug Robertson will be moving from his role in the Floreale central team as operations director to replace Neil in the role of MD Florette UK and Ireland.”

    Sanderson is due to stay with the business during the transition period to help complete a series of projects.

    Florette MD steps down after five years

    Retailer’s announcement relaunches price war into 2016 while CEO Andy Clarke says ‘radical and logical action’ is needed

    Asda has invested £500 million in further price cuts in the first major move this year for price war between the top four retailers and discounters.

    Chief executive Andy Clarke said the business must take “radical action” to win back customers and said he expects 2016 to be another year of intense pressure.

    The investment into prices comes on top of the £1 billion over five years Asda said it would invest into price in November 2013.  It is part of Project Renewal – a two-year programme within Asda’s five-year strategy to reinforce its value proposition.

    The news comes as Asda also announced it has joined European buying alliance EMD, which will help develop the company’s own-label range. EMD is made up of 14 national buying structures and pools the collective buying power of 250 supermarket chains. 

    EMD membership will help develop a “radical shake-up” of its approach to buying, Asda said, and alongside leverage from IPL it will be able to “release significant savings from its supply chain”.

    Clarke said: “Asda is unquestionably the UK’s lowest price full range supermarket business and we intend to strengthen that position. Indeed, we reaffirmed this as 2016 began when we became the first retailer to cut unleaded and diesel prices below £1.

    “The structure of UK grocery retailing has permanently changed to reflect the way that customers shop today. Being part of Walmart also gives us insight into similar trends in the rest of the world and it’s clear that this is a global phenomenon.”

    Clarke said Asda saw the change coming and responded in 2013 but “didn’t move fast enough”. “There is currently no growth in the food market and the rise of the limited assortment discounters means that we must take radical action to win back our customers. Today, from our strong financial position, we are taking another bold step forward in our five year strategy,” he said.

    “Fundamentally changing how we buy products means we can realise significant savings from our cost base and pass these directly to customers through a rebased pricing model. Joining forces with the huge EMD network of 250 European supermarkets will give us significant economies of scale. We’ll continue to work with our suppliers to lower costs in our supply chain and return sales to growth in partnership.

    “But we are not complacent. We remain cautious and, as the chancellor warned on Thursday, we expect that 2016 will be another year of intense pressure at a macro-economic level in addition to sales remaining under strain from price deflation, a continued competitive background throughout the sector and radically changing customer shopping habits.”

    Alongside the price cuts, Asda will also invest in 95 of its largest stores to make them “more relevant”, removing “fringe ranges” and investing in own-label.

    Clarke continued: “We know our customers better than anyone else and we need to structure our offer to meet their changing needs. This knowledge has shaped our plans to make our bigger stores easier to shop, laying them out in a way that’s relevant to today’s customers by removing fringe, marginal ranges, significantly investing in our own label ranges and providing services that they need.”

    He warned that industry faces “more turbulence” in the short-term, but insisted that in the long-term he has the “right and winning strategy”.

    “We expect that 2016 will be another year of intense pressure at a macroeconomic level, in addition to sales remaining under strain from price deflation, a continued competitive background throughout the sector, and radically changing customer shopping habits,” Clarke said.

    The news comes as both Aldi and Lidl begun 2016 by reducing the price point of select promoted fresh produce items from 39p to 29p. Trading figures for the key Christmas period are due this week (w/c 11 January) for several of the major retailers, with Asda due to report in mid February.

    Asda invests £500m into new price cuts

    Discovered by a Spanish grower while walking through his farm in Valencia, and developed in conjunction with Citrus Genesis

    The Muñoz Group has unveiled a new, season-extending satsuma.

    The new Belalate satsuma is an ultra late variant of the Owari satsuma variety.

    It was discovered by Spanish grower Pepe Beltran whilst walking through his farm in Valencia, and has been developed in conjunction with leading varietal specialist company Citrus Genesis.

    As the fruit arrives some three to four weeks later than the traditional Owari variety, it will extend the season delivering the same attributes which have made satsumas such a popular citrus product in the UK.

    The fruit has a rich orange colour, sweet flavour, is very easy to peel and totally seedless. As it develops later on the tree, the benefits are that the skin is thicker and firmer; it does not require degreening therefore giving a stronger and fresher product with a longer shelf life for the customer.

    David Alba, director of Citrus Genesis, said: “This new variety of satsuma represents a significant breakthrough for growers, retailers and customers alike. There have historically been gaps in the satsuma supply in both January and February and mid-July to mid-September.

    “Belalate will, once established volumes are in production worldwide, provide an all-year-round supply. It’s a first for true satsumas which are held in high regard by the British public.”

    The Belalate satsuma will only be available in Tesco and M&S.

    Muñoz delivers new season-extending satsuma

    More than 60 cases of food collected as part of the Neighbourhood Food Collection initiative in Newmarket

    A team from AMT Fruit mucked in with Tesco staff to collect food donations from customers for charity.

    The AMT Fruit volunteers were on hand at Tesco Extra Newmarket collecting food donations from customers on Thursday and Friday in the first week of December.

    Shoppers were extremely generous, and more than 60 cases of food were collected as part of the Neighbourhood Food Collection initiative.

    Run by Tesco with partner charities FareShare and The Trussell Trust, the initiative, now in its seventh year, aims to provide at least five million meals to people in need this winter.

    AMT Fruit, as part of Tescoʼs drive to reduce food waste, has been working with FareShare on an ongoing basis, supplying surplus stock of citrus, grapes and melons to their many charities supported across the UK.

    This surplus food is combined with the food donated during the Neighbourhood Food Collection and redistributed to charities and community projects who transform it into nutritious meals for their beneficiaries.

    Last year, FareShare redistributed enough food for 16.6 million meals to 2,135 charities and community projects.

    AMT Fruit mucks in with Tesco to collect food donations

    New facility is being designed around MM (UK) and MM Flowers’ future plans, and incorporates the latest processes, techniques and features.

    A move to a new hi-tech site with more space for R&D would “sustain and secure” the future of Muñoz Group subsidiaries MM (UK) and MM Flowers.

    The plans are still in the development stage, with Muñoz Group first needing to get planning permission from Huntingdonshire District Council before it purchases the land it requires for the development.

    The proposed relocation to the site on an old military airfield at Alconbury Weald in Cambridgeshire may also see the closure of the firms’ operations at their present office in nearby Chatteris “in their entirety”.

    As for where this would leave current employees based there, Andrew West, head of human resources at MM (UK) and MM Flowers, told FPJ: “We hope to be able to offer suitable alternative roles to as many of our Chatteris staff as possible, and we have chosen the new location because it should be a commutable distance – only 20 minutes from the current location – to travel for the majority of our current employees.”

    Describing the plans in more detail, West said: “The new facility is being designed around our future plans, and incorporates the latest processes and techniques. It has also been designed around our people and the way we work to create a great working environment.

    “In order to grow we need to retain the team that have got us to where we are, and also attract the best and brightest talent, and we believe the new site will enhance our ability to do this. The decision to relocate and design a bespoke solution has also been driven by a requirement to provide our customers with transparent supply chain solutions that step change quality for the consumer.”

    He also cited the benefits the business will get from the mooted move in terms of the new site providing greater opportunity for economies of scale, and more assurances on “cold chain integrity”.

    However, he dismissed local media reports that the new facility – which it is working towards getting with property development firm Urban and Civic, which is in charge of developing the site in question – will create 500 new jobs as erroneous.

    West said the Chatteris base does not give the business the space and flexibility it needs to deliver its strategic plans for the future, and noted that Alconbury Weald is closer to the main transport arteries of the A14 and A1(M).

    The Tesco-dedicated fruit supplier AMT Fruit in Newmarket would not be affected by the move, which West hopes to have completed by the end of summer 2016

    UK Muñoz firms eye up move to ‘secure their futures’

    Severe flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire has left thousands of residents without power and major disruption to road and rail traffic

    A Tesco Superstore and a Sainsbury’s in central Carlisle are under water following severe flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire that has left around 10,000 homes without electricity.

    Storm Desmond saw around 340mm of rain fall in 24 hours, according to provisional figures reported by BBC News, which would be a new British record if verified.

    Helicopter footage tweeted by Tesco shows the retailer’s store at Warwick Road, Carlisle, surrounded by deep water, while another image posted by a member of the public shows similar flooding at the Sainsbury’s.

    Road and rail services have been severely disrupted with no trains running between Carlisle and Scotland today (7 December) due to flooding and a landslip.

    Livestock has been left stranded, while the B5295 bridge at Braithwaite and Pooley Bridge in the Eden District have been washed away.

    Fruit and veg wholesaler A Stephenson, based in Appleby-in-Westmorland, which has been affected by the floods, tweeted that its warehouse is open as usual, although its retail store is without power.

    John Leyland, deputy director of operations at the Environment Agency told the BBC that the amount of rainfall was “beyond the forecasts” and the model used by the EA to trigger flood warnings does not account for persistent heavy rain.

    Environment minister Liz Truss this morning chaired an emergency meeting of the Cobra committee. In a statement she said flood defences performed as they were designed to, but exceptional rainfall had led to defences being breached.

    “Storm Desmond has largely passed, but rivers remain swollen and the ground is saturated by the significant volumes of rain we have seen in recent weeks,” she said.

    “In particular, we are carefully monitoring the situation in Carlisle and York where river levels have not yet reached their peak.”

    Tesco and Sainsbury’s affected by Cumbria floods

    Mike Corbett has joined the retailer, Tesco after former company CFUK’s restructure meant TD role was made redundant

    Mike Corbett has left his position as technical director at tropical fruit supplier Compagnie Fruitiere UK (CFUK) after a company restructure meant his role was “made redundant”.

    Corbett, who was at the company for four and a half years, is now working for Tesco as technical manager for ambient salads. He will be based at the retailer’s Cheshunt headquarters before moving to Welwyn Garden City when the company relocates.

    “Due to recent restructures within the company, it was with regret that Mike’s position of technical director was made redundant,” a spokesperson from CFUK said. “It was a pleasure to have worked with Mike and we wish him every success in his new role.”

    CFUK procurement manager George Beedell has also left the business. He had been in the role for four and a half years.

    Technical director’s position ‘made redundant’

    George Perry will provide free produce to children at its Joe Richards Midlands grocery chain to encourage healthy eating

    Birmingham wholesaler, George Perry has begun offering free fruit to children at its Joe Richards retail and grocery stores to encourage healthy eating.

    The initiative will take place at the firm’s six existing shops at Earlsdon, Erdington, Harborne, and Daventry Road in Coventry, Kenilworth and Tamworth, as well as its new shop at Ball Hill in Coventry.

    George Perry managing director Mark Tate said: “It’s through educating and encouraging our children on what to eat now, we will drive obesity down and with the backing of schools and the government, encourage exercise and a general healthier lifestyle.

    “Using the shops, we now have the medium to push this forward. Fingers crossed others may follow our venture.”

    George Perry has also launched a new online wholesale service, via its new website and Click & Collect Fresh system, which Tate said he sees as “the future of the markets”.

    Wholesaler set to offer free fruit to kids

    And the number is even higher than that in certain parts of the UK, according to research by breakfast firm

    Two in five Brits have admitted to regularly skipping breakfast – twice as many as just three years ago.

    Despite breakfast being widely regarded as “the most important meal of the day”, two in five of those surveyed as part of the Flahavan’s research said they didn’t bother to make time for breakfast, compared with one in five Brits in the same survey in 2012.

    The figures were found to be even worse in the north-east of England and Northern Ireland, where only around half of those surveyed by the oat producer claimed they had breakfast each day.

    But in the east of England and in Scotland, nearly 70% found the time to eat every morning. Around 2,000 people took part in the research.

    Flahavan’s nutritionist Lucy Jones said: “Breakfast really is an important part of the day, and missing out on a nutritious start to the day can affect your health and your mood.

    “A balanced breakfast helps to fuel you through the morning, meaning you feel fuller for longer and are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the day.”

    The Flahavan’s study showed that cereal, porridge and toast remain the nation’s most popular breakfasts. And half of those surveyed said they regularly topped porridge, toast and cereal with healthy additions such as nuts, seeds and berries.

    Meanwhile, one in 10 of those surveyed said they liked to try at least one new healthy food each month.

    Two in five Brits ‘skip breakfast’
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