As part of the UK Food Valley, the region yields 1/8th of the UK’s food production - a sector that’s worth £104.7bn. The food manufacturing industry alone accounts for 236,000 jobs in the UK - with employment increasing year on year.
The Grimsby Seafood Processing Cluster is the largest in northern Europe and one of the largest in the northern hemisphere. It employs nearly 6,000 people directly in over 50 approved seafood processing factories and trading businesses. Within the supply chain there are over 10,000 employees working in businesses ranging from ports, logistics, distribution, cold storage, engineering, packaging, and skills.
SMEs in the food sector account for 78% of UK businesses, 28% of employment, and 16% of turnover - but how can businesses like yours ensure they have the right skills, supply chains, and financial sustainability to thrive in an increasingly volatile economy?
In a labour-intensive market with many specialists to recruit and retain, and with regulations upholding strict standards to safeguard staff and consumers, expert advice from business and commercial law specialists with 100 years’ experience in the food sector could make all the difference.
Labour-intensive and high-tech sector skills are central to the success of the food industry - meaning that there are often special issues arising that require expert legal advice.
Staff retention, recruitment and attrition are critical issues. Post-pandemic, a recent survey revealed that over half of all employees would leave if they felt undervalued.
Clear, immutable guidance on policies, contracts, and employment law could help you to empower your workforce and catalyse their potential.
Whether it’s for high-level skilled positions or non-skilled workers, recruitment can be complex. With international VISAs, citizenship, and sponsorship licences to consider, getting it right is a careful balance.
Consulting with immigration experts can make sure you’re ticking all the right boxes.
The most effective way to reduce recruitment costs is to upskill your existing team. In fact, one of the main reasons employees leave a position is because of a clear lack of progression.
Advice on how to integrate upskilling into your workforce will ensure that your staff turnover remains low while employee retention stays sky-high. This will also feed into increased automation across the sector to avoid job losses.
Easing conflicts and dissuading disorder is an essential element of leading an SME, but even the most naturally tactful employees will need training to upskill them to leadership level.
Add to this concerns such as persistent staff sickness and absence, performance management, and disciplinary action, and it becomes clear that upskilling to management and conflict resolution are directly linked.
Position your colleagues to lead teams, set management plans, progress appraisals and handle grievances by taking clear daily and ongoing legal advice from food sector experts.
Robotics are increasingly being used across industries to improve efficiencies. Our region is a prime example as we are home to the largest agri-food robotics team in Europe at the University of Lincoln, who are pioneering projects such as fruit picking robots.
Drones and the adoption of automation continue to radically reshape the world of food and agriculture, improving processes, creating unseen levels of efficiency and, crucially, addressing labour shortages.
The long term sustainability of your business requires careful and considered planning, assessing future challenges and risks and the ability to seize new opportunities. At all times, you must ensure your business is financially viable.
Lay the framework to future-proof your SME in a shifting economic climate with constantly changing consumer and supplier demand by asking for help when you need it. Help comes in many different forms, but the most astute advice you’ll receive in this area is targeted, strategic expertise from a legal professional.
Guidance on the correct procedural framework to ensure food safety and your compliance with regulations is essential; embedding best practice into your daily operations is likely to save you money and stress down the line.
Environmental sustainability should also be a core concern. Our experts go beyond ESG by taking a transformational governance approach, helping you connect your sustainability objectives to what actually happens across your operations.
The security of data is paramount, but many business owners can find it difficult to redress existing procedures without impacting their yield. Clear, comprehensive advice on how to ensure compliance with UK data protection law and ongoing audits will safeguard not only your data but, crucially, your reputation as you bring in new business.
Informed guidance on concerns such as licensing, hygiene issues and standards and vehicle operations issues is also available, along with non-contentious regulatory advice.
In a sector heavily reliant on its supply chains, it is vital that you understand your modern slavery obligations. We provide clear, strategic advice which will assist you to ensure compliance throughout your operations.
With 100 year’s experience in the food sector, we're perfectly positioned to help guide you through each stage of managing your growing business, from initial set-up and incorporation to full operation, with all the growing pains along the way.
Whether you need advice on how to structure your company or funding arrangements, we provide the expertise to advise on the best legal structure which will underpin your business. It is important to establish terms and conditions to ensure your offering is future-proof and does not spoil. As your business grows, the need for agreements with suppliers, supermarkets and major retailers are fundamental in ensuring that purchasing of raw materials, processing, packaging, wholesale, storage or cold storage, and logistics, are met with ease - even in this often time-sensitive market and sector.
The branding of your business can also be critical to your reputation with suppliers and customers. Ensure your branding and logos are registered and that any intellectual property developed by you is protected. If and when you’re ready to re-shape your business, expert advice on investments, restructuring, sales, mergers and acquisitions is also available - ensuring opportunities flourish.
Grimsby and the surrounding area processes around 70% of the nation’s seafood, while Lincolnshire grows 30% of the nation’s vegetables.
Ensuring robust supply chain management is a core concern for businesses working in this sector.
Location and access are pressing challenges for this sector. There is a minefield of potential problems to be navigated, like ensuring access - including overcoming any restrictions from highways or third party agreements.
Ensure you have the proper class of usage and take time to consider planning issues, including consent and licences.
From handling multiple leases to ensuring you have consent to build if you’re looking to grow or set up a facility from scratch, you’ll find expert advice on capacity and expansion plans a crucial commodity.
In a sector as fiercely regulated as food processing, handling, logistics and storage, disputes can crop up at every stage of the supply chain.
It could be a vendor querying the quantity or quality of goods, a disagreement between purchaser and manufacturer over an agreed price due to increasing costs, or an improvement notice from a regulator - whatever the dispute, it requires immediate attention. Without proper advice and, if necessary, mediation, disputes can easily escalate into sour relationships throughout a supply chain.
Clear advice from experts in business law and dispute resolution is the key to maintaining relationships and avoiding fines.
When an unexpected variable impacts your line, products can be contaminated or spoiled. Ideally, this would be caught before it happens - but some problems aren’t apparent until later. In this scenario, product recalls are necessary to safeguard the public, maintain the reputation of your business and protect you from litigation.
Taking ownership and showcasing clear ways in which processes are being improved to minimise the risk to future batches is crucial.
Regulatory changes are a challenge for the food industry - especially considering the heavy impact it has on your ability to import and export. With red tape increasing tenfold post-Brexit, ensuring your business isn’t falling foul of regulatory requirements can be a daunting prospect.
Environmental regulations can also put pressure on your bottom line - as breaching guidelines (such as the discharge of contaminated fluids into a watercourse) can incur significant fines. Whether it’s staying ahead of changing regulations, inspection claims, reactions or grievances, make sense of confusing compliance laws with a guiding hand.
Not everyone pays invoices on time. It’s an unfortunate truth, but one every business owner will encounter at some stage.
Other issues such as insurance claims as a result of malpractice can not only damage relationships but break trust in your company and lead to stakeholder disputes or, in extreme circumstances, an enforced change of governance.
Diffuse tension and protect production lines with specialist support.
Ensure skills, supplies, and business sustainability are firmly embedded within your organisation.
If you’re involved in food processing, purchasing, storage, transport, logistics, or anywhere in between, get in touch today to add intelligent industry insights to your production line.