1. 1. Sell-out conference FPJ Live was trending as the fifth most-talked about topic on Twitter in the UK, at one point in the day.
  2. 2. According to Kantar communications director and conference circuit stalwart, Ed Garner, the only ones who can now distinguish between the quality of produce from discounters and the big four retailers, are cats, because they KNOW... Garner set the bar high for speakers in the opening session, where he presented a plethora of retail trends and grocery market developments.

    3. A double act from Tesco, in the form of agriculture director Tom Hind and fresh food programme manager Simon Reeves, explained how the retailer is moving forward from a sourcing and in-store perspective.
  3. 4. M&S’ technical director Johnathan Sutton impressed delegates with the news that M&S does not audit its fresh produce suppliers, and also confirmed that M&S' agronomy team are the only ones who really know how to wear their wellies...
  4. 5. Procurement director at EIPC, Mike Attwood, threw down the gauntlet to salad suppliers to help him supply European Subway franchisees three times a week. He said he will be doubling the volumes he buys by 2020, and has particular difficulty sourcing red onions.

    6. Spotted having a chinwag in one of the networking sessions were three of the industry’s top bosses from different categories: Angus Armstrong from Greenvale, Neil Sanderson from Florette and James Truscott, incoming MD of Branston, with one bystander commenting how rare the sight was.

    7. Lidl’s fresh produce director Paul Gibson had flown in from Germany for the event after receiving orders from above, and was very much in demand during the day - FPJ was asked for an introduction at least twice.

    8. Food consultant Robbie Smith used his session to ask delegates: “What is your version of the Mini Cooper?”, after explaining how one confectionary supplier had used a car giveaway competition to sweet-talk a retailer through a difficult cost conversation.
  5. 9. Many were left baffled after LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond asserted that “we’re only 10 per cent human”, which she swiftly followed up with another jaw-dropper: “My first job was working as a stripper for Barfoots…” But it wasn't what you think.
  6. 10. Dubious comment of the day went to Guy Thallon of Produce World, who noted that director Andrew Burgess “can neither read or write, but can drive a tractor”. Burgess and Thallon were presenting the vegetable giant’s many sustainable farming initiatives, and explaining more about the company’s “£500m ambition”.

    11. Recruitment specialist Guy Moreton momentarily lost himself after wandering into a neighbouring conference, hosted by Olympus, before he realised that for the first time in his life, he didn’t know everyone in the room.

    12. Former Aston Villa-player turned wholesaler Mark Tate’s talk went from endearing to hilarious, as he described how retail could learn from the relationships and bonds in the wholesale sector. He also recounted how Birmingham market fought to be relocated and will now open a custom-made composite facility in 2017.
  7. 13. Managing director of G’s Fresh Salads Dan Cross used some well-received videos to explain how the Lean start-up theory can help launch small, but consumer-reactive brands quickly, using the principles of tweak, pivot and adjust.
  8. 14. Results of the FPJ's exclusive Supplier Survey, carried out by England Marketing, were presented by FPJ features editor Nina Pullman during the day, and included responses on supplier relations, big issues facing the sector and the 5 A DAY campaign. Full survey results will be published in the next issue of FPJ.
  9. 15. Root crop grower and chair of the NFU's horticulture and potatoes board, Guy Poskitt, was surprised that most respondents to the survey said they were "not likely to grow GM", and said he would "definitely give it a go", if it was allowed.
  10. 16. FPJ news and online editor, Martyn Fisher, moderated session four of the day with speakers from convenience, foodservice and wholesale discussing issues 'Beyond the Big Four'.
  11. 17. CEO of Greenvale and Produce Investments, Angus Armstrong, used the suppliers' debate to warn that if the value situation in potatoes stays as it is, "not all of us will be here next year".
  12. 18. New marketing director at potato giant Branston, George Christoudias, was spotted making the rounds in the networking sessions, as was new head of group marketing at Scott Farms, Natasha Stonebridge.
  13. 19. LEAF's Caroline Drummond started a lively conversation on how to engage young people, who are more interested in the latest technologies, with food, farming and the countryside. "The farm is the ultimate 4d cinema," she said, before urging growers to throw open their farm gates for this year's Open Farm Sunday event.
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