Highland Food & Drink Club has taken the leap to embrace the new normal by setting up virtual panel discussions with industry leaders. The first of many virtual discussions took place last week with a focus on the recovery process from a Food Service perspective.
The panel session, led by HFDC Director John Murray (pictured), was ‘virtually’ attended by over 20 businesses throughout the Highlands. The session discussed many issues the Food Service industry is currently facing, including the need for clearer direction from government on operating their businesses with social distancing in place and in turn looking at the financial impact it will have on a business’s determining if this will be a viable option for them.
The panel of industry leaders were Andy Waugh of Mac & Wild Falls of Shin and London; Norman Macdonald of Café 1 Inverness; and Kenneth Loads from Cru Holdings (Bar One, Prime, Scotch & Rye and more recently CRU Kitchen).
It was clear from the session that although the industry is facing a very uncertain time with too many challenges to mention – businesses must remain positive and be ready to adapt to ensure business survival. Andy Waugh from Falls of Shin stated that he was blown away with the speed of innovation and the level of collaboration taking place within the industry. He said we must embrace change and look for new opportunities within it.
John Murray of the Highland Food and Drink Club said: “It’s in times like these that we have to show courage and confidence that we will get through – we have to lead the way and come together to remain positive. Recently I have seen many leaders pivoting and showcasing true Highland Spirit and completely changing their service offering to not only survive but to support the local consumer.”
He continued: “Our session panellists showcase how agile you can be if you are open to change – they have been very innovative throughout lockdown with their individual businesses providing home delivered meals, cocktail delivery and preparing meals from recipe boxes which all in turn keep their own spirits high as they feel like they are making a difference.”
The next (virtual) panel session will take place on Thursday 11th of June at 2pm. This session is for producers and will look at new markets, shopping trends and recovery planning. All Highland producers are invited to attend.
Panel speakers for the producer event include:
- Antony Begley, Editor of Scottish Local Retailer Magazine and co-founder of The Scottish Retail Food and Drink Awards.
- Tom Fender, Development Director, The Wholesale Company. Fender has a vast amount of varied experience in the sector. He previously owned shopper insights company HIM, and has developed online training tool Bolt Learning.
- Jamie Buchanan, Membership Consultant, Scottish Grocers Federation. Prior to his current role, Buchanan was the company-owned store Retail Director at CJ Lang, the Spar Wholesaler for Scotland.
To join the online panel discussion, visit the Highland Food and Drink Club website to register. You will need Zoom to be able to connect to the discussion.