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    Posted 10 December 2001

    The second in the series of Tesco Food and Farming Masterclass seminars at Harper Adams University College, Shropshire, took place last week, this time focusing on fresh produce.

    An audience of growers and representatives of leading fresh produce organisations attended the seminar on November 28 to hear five key speakers on the topic ‘Fresh Produce: Supply Chain People and Partners.’

    Martin Hingley, conference Chair and Tesco Teaching Fellow, focused on the theme of supply chain partnerships. He described how the day’s conference speakers ‘had emphasised the need for a joint and collaborative approach in all of our relationships; be that between buyer and seller, in joint initiatives to encourage fresh produce consumption in the young and in a common approach to ensuring that the industry attracts the best personnel for the future’.

    Doug Henderson, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium, reported on Government initiatives to introduce more fresh produce into schools and urged the industry to ‘engage with the public’ emphasising the positive message of the health benefits of fresh produce and the contribution that the industry was making with regard to, in particular, ongoing efforts to improve the diets of schoolchildren.

    Speakers from Tesco and from Branston Potatoes gave an object lesson in the working of modern supply chain partnership, where the two partners worked jointly to deliver quality, service and value. Jo Parish for Branston stated that contrary to popular belief, working with a big customer like Tesco, was not simply a matter of saying ‘yes, yes, yes to everything any more’, but nowadays their relationship was a mature one in which the answer was much more likely to be: ‘What if? Yes but…, or even sometimes no’.

    The seminar closed with Susan Howson, from Harper Adams, who presented the findings of her fresh produce industry research on the Image and Recruitment within the sector. Citing her extensive study involving key industry stakeholders, Sue emphasised that fresh produce was suffering from a poor image that ‘was indistinguishable from negative connotations associated with the wider problems of UK agriculture’.

    She went on to stress, however, that the real problem of image with respect to fresh produce was not that it was especially negative, but simply that it was too low profile. Miss Howson suggested that there was a lack of industry literature in schools and interest from careers advisors on fresh produce as a career destination and that there was a requirement for a ‘co-ordinated approach from the fresh produce industry to stimulate interest via consistent literature and industry contact’.

    Copies of all of the presentations made by speakers at ‘Fresh Produce: Supply Chain People and Partners’ are available from: Martin Hingley, Tesco Teaching Fellow at Harper Adams University College. Tel: 01952 815 386 or email:

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