The industry needs to ‘deal in real' when it comes to food price inflation, which is a reality; according to Andrew Selley, chief executive of Bidfood.
Speaking at the annual Arena Savoy Lecture held last week in London, he told the audience: "As a wholesaler, we will ‘deal in real' (in terms of price increases) and have constructive conversations about prices with our suppliers. We're not here to screw our suppliers, or to be screwed by ours. We have to be true to our customers and help them manage these price increases.
"This might mean helping our customers look at alternative cost saving options such as portion sizes and alternative protein products for example, to save on price."
Presenting to a room of industry peers, colleagues and suppliers at the 2017 Savoy Lecture, Selley encouraged the audience to "cheer up" when it came to Brexit.
He insisted that while there were bound to be challenges for the industry to adjust to "uncertainty usually means opportunity, and opportunity usually means prosperity".
Selley also addressed the weak pound, acknowledging that it would have an impact on fuel, utility and transportation costs. He said: "We will need to be more efficient, more environmentally friendly, and more productive and look at ways to make it less costly to do business."
Outlining his thoughts on a ‘future fit foodservice' Selley also touched on the environment and sustainability. He encouraged the industry to engage with this subject collectively, to work towards solutions to overcome a growing population (estimated to grow by up to 35% by 2050) and to be more aware of climate change and the increased likelihood of draught and flood, with more volatile weather conditions continuing to affect food supply.
"Closer to home, we must take more action when it comes to food poverty in this country," said Selley. "We need a greater variety of food and food alternatives, a focus on provenance and local enterprises and food traceability and security.
"Food waste will remain an important topic as will labelling of products, such as nutrition, allergens, and perhaps even food miles and water usage as a requirement."
Speaking about the business, Selley made light of the recent name change for the company (previously Bidvest) but did confirm that changes had occurred within the organisation.
"Bidfood is a de-centralised entrepreneurial business," he explained.
"We are still on a journey but our premise is to be future fit and in order to be that we have to be lean, fit and agile."
Since taking on the role of chief executive in 2014, Selley has led the company through a process of cultural and performance change and carved out a new business focus. Working with feedback obtained from employees across the organisation, Selley has led from the front, with a single-minded focus, to create a business that wants to be seen as visionary, positive and forward looking but above all, one that delivers and is famous for its service excellence.