Newly formed Highland Food & Drink Club Leads the way with online panel discussions

Highland Food & Drink Club headed up by John Murray 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 John Murray of HFDC was ‘virtually’ attended by over 20 businesses throughout the Highlands.  The session discussed many issues the Food Service industry is currently facing which included 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 M.B.E- Café 1 Inverness and Kenneth Loads- 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 have to 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 have to embrace change and look for new opportunities within it.

John Murray of the Highland Food and Drink Club highlighted that “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”.

“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  meal’s, 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 the producers, we will be looking at new markets, shopping trends and recovery planning – John is inviting all Highland producers to attend!

Panel speakers for the producer event will include:

Scottish Local Retailer Magazine – Antony Begley is the Editor or the Scottish Local Retailer Magazine https://www.slrmag.co.uk/and was going to be launching a new Food & Drink Awards this year –https://www.scottishretailfoodanddrinkawards.com/

The Wholesale Company – Tom Fender– Has a vast amount and varied  experience in the sector and is currently a development director with TWC –  https://twcgroup.net/our-expertise/# Tom previously owned HIM https://www.himshopper.com/a shopper insights company, before selling it and has developed Bolt Training. An online training tool https://www.boltlearning.com/

Scottish Grocers Federation – Jamie Buchanan – Is currently Membership Consultant with the Scottish Grocers Federation https://www.scottishshop.org.uk/  . Jamie previous to his current role was the Company owned store Retail Director at CJ Lang- the Spar Wholesaler for Scotland- running over 100 convenience stores.

To join the online panel discussion just head to the Highland Food and Drink Club website and click the Online Events page and you can register.  You will need Zoom to be able to connect to the discussion.