Groceries code adjudicator to help automation in food sector

Posted on 7 Sep 2014 by Callum Bentley

Tasked with ensuring that supermarkets treat suppliers fairly and lawfully, the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) will undoubtedly have a positive effect on confidence in much needed automation for the food sector.

Christine Tacon is a chartered engineer with 12 years’ experience in sales and marketing of fast moving consumer goods (Mars, Anchor and Vodafone). She also ran the Co-operative Group’s farming business, the largest in the UK, for 11 years until 2012. She was awarded a CBE for services to agriculture in 2004. Christine has created much interest up and down the supply chain, not afraid to name and shame some of the larger multiple retailers throughout the press. She also has the ability to levy substantial fines. The Groceries Code Adjudicator will join Michael Portillo in addressing the supply chain issues at PPMA Show on September 30th. In addition Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Coca Cola will also be there to speak.

The adjudicator and former boss of the Co-operative Group’s farming business will explain why she is so keen to resolve issues affecting the entire supply chain, thereby encouraging greater investment in automation within the food sector. Underlining her commitment to improving conditions, Christine Tacon is keen to hear indirectly as well as directly from suppliers, either personally, anonymously or through a trade association – and this doesn’t just mean front-line organisations such as the Food & Drink Federation or the National Farmers Union; it also includes the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association (PPMA).

According to Grant Collier, PPMA Group’s head of marketing, Christine’s appointment has significant implications for PPMA members: “This is good news as far as automating the food industry is concerned, and also for our members, most of whom supply machinery to the sector. After surveying 367 manufacturers that took part in the government’s Automating Manufacturing Programme, there is clear evidence that the reluctance to adopt automation is in part driven by on-going narrowing of supplier margins and lack of contracts from multiple retailers. The Adjudicator’s actions will hopefully change this culture and enable much-needed automation of the UK’s largest industry if it is to remain competitive. The adjudicator is willing to answer questions and may meet with anyone in private too”.

Robot Sales

The UK’s food sector is a long way behind competitive nations both in Europe and the Far East with a slow uptake in automation, yet it is witnessing how successful automation is within the booming British automotive industry. The Grocery Code Adjudicator is determined to shake up the food sector. The automotive industry continues to remain strong after its peak in 2012 with an enviable appetite for industrial robot orders. Other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, plastics, aerospace and engineering are also on the rise, but again not at a pace that matches other European and Far Eastern competitor nations. One of the benefits of being a member of the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) is to gain access to detailed quarterly statistics on industrial robot sales and trends.

Michael Portillo Michael Portillo will conduct the official opening of the PPMA show with his great support for British manufacturing. The exhibition showcases hundreds of working solutions to automation and robotics across the manufacturing sector and takes place from September 30 – October 2 2014 at the NEC.

Hear Christine Tacon live at the PPMA Show 2014, 11am, Tuesday 30 September 2014, NEC, Birmingham.