A Message from the Chairman

On February 17th, the 7 livery companies involved with agriculture, horticulture and food sector will hold the annual City Food Lecture at the Guildhall in London. After this event was held on line last year, we will return to an in person event – this after a number of deliberations by the Organising Committee as to whether to do this “live” or again “on line”. But we are all systems go now for a live event. This will be the 21st of these lectures. The event continues to go from strength to strength.

The Fruiterers have always been deeply involved in this occasion. It was the brainchild of Laurence Olins some 20 or so years ago. It is safe to say that without Laurence’s personal drive and enthusiasm, this event just wouldn’t still be taking place. He acted as the Chair of the CFL for some 15 years and put the event on the map of key occasions in the UK food an agricultural calendar.
It is attended by around 600 people from the 7 liveries as well as a host of VIP guests from across the UK and international supply chain, as well as the guests of a host of sponsors who have generously supported the event over the years. AC Goatham, Berry Gardens, The Orchard Fruit Company and the FPJ have all provided hugely appreciated support to the event over the years. HRH Princess Ann has also attended many of the 20 lectures held to date.
But how did this all start ? For those with a long memory, they night recall an event held by the Fruiterers a few years before the CFL sprung into life, when we had Sir Leon Brittan, the then EU Commissioner for Trade come and talk to us. His working title that night was “the impact of the Single European Market on the fresh produce sector” and in particular the banana trade - remember those days ?
He gave a fascinating talk, but from what I recall hardly mentioned fruits and vegetables, but this didn’t matter. Two things he said say though still stand out in my mind: one – that even after 20 years of EU membership, in the UK we didn’t seem to understand how to make our involvement work to our best advantage - and two: we often didn’t seem to feel comfortable as to our membership, and this was often detected by other EU countries. A further 20 years on - how right was he proved.
So, the CFL started life after this. Over the years, we have been addressed by some of the leading figures in UK and international food and drink. This includes the CEOs and Chairs of organisations such as Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury, Unilever, Cadbury, PepsiCo, Wageningen University & Research, Compass, Booker, Nestle, the Soil Association and the Food Standards Agency.
The 2022 lecture will be given by Ash Amirahmadi, the Managing Director of Arla UK, the largest dairy company in the UK. This is a business at the very top of its game and as well as supplying customers in the UK, is also highly active in the US, the Far East, the Gulf region and of course in the EU and Scandinavia, with a combination of its dairy product portfolio. Ash will speak to us not just about the dairy sector, but the wider challenges and opportunities in the food sector per se surrounding finding a way to feed the world while protecting the planet. He will be sharing his thoughts and views on how the food sector can shape its role over the next, vitally important, decade for the food industry.
As an indication of what Ash Amirahmadi might cover in his lecture, accessibility, nutrition and affordability are three important elements to be considered when providing food to the UK and global customer and consumer, as well as quality and the all important environmental impact of its production.
The evening includes a Q & A session - this year, as last, chaired by Charlotte Smith, Presenter of Farming Today and Countryfile. The panel this year is made up of Richard Clothier, Managing Director of Wyke Farms. Frazer McKevitt, Head of Retail & Consumer Insight at Kantar World Panel and Kate Nicholls, CEO for UKHospitality (UKH).
To end the evening, there is also a rather nice stand up buffet at the end of the evening with delicious food supplied by our charity partner, The Clink.It all started with Laurence – we should never forget that – and the Fruiterers have a long tradition of supporting this event in all senses of word – through the initial inspiration for it, by providing valuable sponsors to it, providing panelists and not least, by supporting the event on the evening in impressive numbers.
We look forward to seeing you there on the 17th February.
City Food Lecture 2022
Liveryman John Giles
CFL Chair, 2016 - date