NEWS & INSIGHT FROM THE FPA

NEWS & INSIGHT FROM THE FPA

RIP ALAN McCAULAY

It is with immense sadness that we advise Alan McAulay of Huhtamaki BCP passed away on Sunday 22nd November from an unexpected seizure. Alan was a senior manager running Huhtamaki’s Foodservice FMCG category, having been a part of the BCP management team at the time of the acquisition by Huhtamaki in 2013.

Keco’s John Young, who has known Alan for more than 30 years writes: “We worked together in the Autobar Group when Alan was with HCS (Hotel & Catering Supplies) which was an acquisition made by the Group towards the end of the 1980s. There were significantly different challenges back then and I, along with others in the team at that time, had the pleasure of working with and getting to know the man that carved out a hugely successful career in our industry.

“Alan’s integrity, work ethic, humility and professionalism were very much a part of his DNA and character. He set himself exceptionally high standards in all that he did and, regardless of the circumstances and pressures that may have prevailed at times, and I can assure you there were many, Alan remained focused, positive and supportive of all those around him, whilst also possessing a quite fantastic sense of humour.

“Alan leaves his loving wife Debs and two wonderful daughters, Holly & Katie. RIP Alan.”

For those industry colleagues who would like to contribute, Alan’s family have set up a Go Fund Me account to raise money in his memory for the British Heart Foundation: https://gf.me/u/zabs2b

MORE PAPER CUPS DISINFORMATION

The recent national press coverage for the listing of ‘Butterfly Cups’ by the WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust), described the cups as ‘properly recyclable and fully plastic-free’ in the press release and were endorsed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describing them as ‘the world’s most environmentally friendly disposable cup’ which can also be ‘recycled in a paper bin’.

The FPA campaigns hard to stamp out false and misleading claims. FPA members sign up to a Code of Practice which means all claims must be proven as a condition of membership. The Butterfly cup is made in the Far East and has an aqueous coating. It is certainly PE free but is not plastic free. At least one member has informed the producers the description plastic-free is not accurate. There are many premium priced ‘miracle’ cups out there and we do follow up with requests for evidence to substantiate claims, usually with no response. As operators, media and the public look for what they believe to be ‘green’ solutions we must ensure they are not exploited.

 

FPA BENCHMARKING SURVEY

Our grateful thanks to those members who completed our recent ‘state of the nation’ survey. The overall picture is that despite a hugely stressful year with 65% experiencing a fall in trade in 2020, FPA members are expressing optimism for their businesses in 2021 with 65% believing that turnover will increase in 2021, albeit that a majority of members (40%) think that the economy will not pick up until September 2021.

There have been pockets of the sector that expanded such as the obvious one of increased PPE sales as the restaurant sector invested in equipment and supplies to meet Covid-19 requirements as restaurants reopened. The great increase in takeaway sales and home delivery from sit-down restaurants also provided a new source of demand for takeaway and online delivery packaging. In decline however were paper napkins and paper cups, no doubt with the absence of office-based workers from city centres.

Reassuringly a quarter of members intend to increase expenditure in research and development in 2021, with 86% intending to launch new products next year. This very much gives hope for the future and it will be interesting to see the extent to which new products reflect even higher demands for safety and hygiene along with the increasing balance of trade in home delivery.

Members believe that the state support they have received is enough to support their business with 73% considering it ‘enough’; 26% believe the government should have done more, with 50% thinking that a reduction in VAT would be helpful, along with cash grants (37%) and government backed loans (26%). Some 67% of members believe the government has acted ‘as best it could’ under the circumstances this year. 80% of members placed staff on furlough during the year, of which 44% advise they will have to keep staff on furlough until March 2021.

It is good to see some glimmer of optimism, however 60% of members enter 2021 with an average 56% reduction in headcount. A statistic we deeply regret and our thoughts are for those who have lost their jobs as a victim of circumstances. By the end of 2021 our market structure could be different from the beginning of 2020 and we very much hope those who have lost their jobs will be quickly re-employed.

EU Exit comes down the list of concerns, which we feel is due to the enormity of the pandemic. In normal circumstances the uncertainties we face from 1 January would be very much top of mind for all those importing raw materials and packaging and for those members exporting.

All in all, the level of optimism is hugely encouraging and shows the resilience and flexibility of our members reinventing their businesses and rising to the challenges with great determination.

WEBINAR 17 DECEMBER

The FPA’s final webinar of the year is on December 17th when the Board and Committees will update members on what has been achieved this year and plans for next year. Mark Byrne will be undertaking the ‘Christmas compere’ role, Mark Pawsey will give an update on his role as Chairman so far and there will be an opportunity to ask questions of all the panellists. Link to sign up here.

OXO-BIODEGRADABLES UPDATE

Former Defra Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, is making a very determined effort for oxo-biodegradables not to banned. Her latest parliamentary question to George Eustice asks the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ‘whether it is his policy that packaging that has passed the tests prescribed by BS EN13432 should not be considered genuinely biodegradable because it is tested to biodegrade in special conditions found in an industrial composting facility and not in the open environment’. We will report the answer next week.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

From the Society of Independent Brewers chief executive James Calder: “Supermarkets have thrived during this crisis, but the UK’s pubs and brewers, which are core to their communities, have been left behind. Other supermarkets should follow the good example set by Tesco: return the relief they didn’t need; and the government should use the money wisely to give us a chance to see in the new year.”

We (the FPA) would also add restaurants and caterers to the list of recipients if government can be persuaded to go down this path, perhaps make it a condition of returning furlough revenue.

 

ESSENTIAL READING

Let’s Recycle reports that Wales has announced record recycling rates of 65.14% for 2019/20, exceeding its 64% statutory target. Read here.

Resource Magazine reports that two-thirds of Scots support introducing charges to help cut down on the use of single-use plastic items, according to a survey conducted for Zero Waste Scotland. Read here.

Business Green reports that in the run up to Glasgow next year, governments must step up to the plate by targeting food waste in their net zero plans, argues WRAP CEO Marcus Gover. Read here.

Packaging News reports that Danone UK has secured B Corp accreditation through its packaging commitments. Read here.

Let’s Recycle reports that Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) prices will start at ‘much lower levels’ in 2021, compliance specialists have predicted, after the publication of provisional packaging data for the third quarter of 2020. Read here.

Parliament UK reports that following the publication of a new Common Framework designed to ensure a harmonised approach across the UK on food and feed safety and hygiene, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has announced a call for written evidence. Read here.