December 6 2013 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Monday, October 28, 2013
Rackheath-based packaging machine manufacturer Redpack is eyeing expansion into Poland to exploit the potential of its growing food sector.
Food firms across the east are set to plough investment into new technology as some predict a future rise in commodity prices, research has revealed.
An increase in global optimism has given East Anglia’s food and drink industry the leverage to up its spend on new equipment, IT and product development, according to a report by financial advisors Grant Thornton.
But 40pc of people taking part in the survey expected raw material prices to grow between one and five per cent.
Meanwhile, the report also found that almost two thirds (60pc) of UK food and beverage businesses are likely to need more funding over the next year, with China, South East Asia, and Africa identified as key markets.
Darren Bear, partner at Grant Thornton East Anglia, said: “There’s been a new wave of optimism across UK food and drink businesses, partly driven by export opportunities and partly due to improved consumer sentiment which is increasing investment in the sector.
“The story in East Anglia is similar to the wider UK market with businesses continuing to face the challenge of increasing raw material prices. Alongside this we have seen a number of local businesses continue to invest in infrastructure to develop leaner and more efficient manufacturing operations and lay the foundations to support future growth.
“In addition to rising raw material prices, managing volatility in the price and supply of many key commodities, and ensuring the continuity of supply when product availability is short in the UK or globally, are key.”
The firm said a need to improve packaging and product presentation in some of the country’s major supermarkets could spark a growth opportunity for the business.
It comes after a group of six businesses looked to cash-in on new export deals during a recent trade mission to Warsaw.
The trip – attended by Redpack, Freshpod, Enviro-pod, KMS, Brittania Training and Electrical Installation Solutions – began with businesses attending a reception at the British Embassy in the capital, followed by an afternoon session where Polish retailers, growers and processors learnt more about the Norfolk companies.
It comes as UK Trade and Investment gets set to launch its export week at the beginning of November by holding a series of events highlighting the potential of trading with high-growth markets abroad.
Peter Smith, commercial manager of Redpack Packaging Machinery, said: “Our visit indicated that here is great potential in pursuing business in Poland, of specific interest to Redpack is the significant improvements that are likely to take place in the packaging and presentation of product by major supermarkets.
“These changes will be necessary to meet the growing demand and expectations of young professionals and consumers.
“In addition, supermarkets will drive change as they look to improve in-store hygiene, staff handling, product storage, product wastage, on shelf displays and promotion of their brand. I believe that there is a market for Redpack Packaging machinery but it will demand investment, continued activity and customer visits. It may take many months to produce the desired results but there is undoubtedly business to be obtained by a proactive approach.”
Meanwhile, Mike Brown, of Fresh Pod. who helped organise the trade mission, said food companies in Poland were looking for better ways to manage their food storage.
He said: “Poland is the third biggest apple growing nation in the world and a preliminary meeting with some Polish growers at Fruit Logistica in February suggested that Poland would be a good place to expand into. “Having met with several growers at the embassy it was clear that they are looking for technology to help them manage their storage and logistics better. The Polish growers were knowledgeable, receptive and keen to implement new technology into their businesses.
“I am currently in follow up talks with both growers and producer organisations which I hope will result in new export business for us.”
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has hailed the town’s growing significance as an energy hub after the arrival of a new offshore business bringing the promise of 100 jobs over the next three years.