The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Avara Foods is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
28 | AVARA FOODS
Andy Dawkins, chief executive
Ducks at Far Farm,
Avara Foods is a leading UK food business supplying
chicken, turkey and duck to the retail and restaurant
sectors. The company was formed in January 2018 as
a joint venture between Faccenda, a family-owned UK poultry
supplier established in 1962, and the UK fresh poultry business
of US-based Cargill. The company’s locations stretch across
the heart of England and Wales, with key sites in Brackley and
Hereford. Avara Foods’ chief executive, Andy Dawkins, explains
the company’s recipe for success in an age of uncertainty.
It is easy to overlook the role the poultry industry plays in today’s economy. First
and foremost, British poultry offers a £1.1 billion tax contribution to the Exchequer
without receiving any funding from the Common Policy. In fact, our economic
contribution has increased by nearly 50 per cent over the past five years, with a £5
billion gross value-added contribution to GDP in 2016. Regarding employment, the
industry sustains 87,700 jobs, 37,200 of which are direct recruits. Avara Foods is
powered by 6,000 employees and generates an annual turnover of £800 million.
Each week we supply close to five million fresh and frozen birds to the UK’s largest
supermarkets and most popular restaurants.
In the 1960s, a roast chicken was reserved for Sunday lunch as a slightly expensive,
somewhat lavish treat. Fast forward to 2018 and chicken is an affordable shopping
basket staple. The shift in the availability of poultry, then, has been rather
remarkable. Advancements in genetics, automation and modern farming practice
have all played a part in making poultry more accessible. Of course, it has been
»Chief executive: AndyDawkins
»Established in 2018
»Based in England and south
Wales, with key sites in
»No. of employees: 6,000
»Services: Supply of chicken,
turkey and duck to the retail
and restaurant sectors
»9 processing sites and over
29AVARA FOODS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
consumers’ demand for convenience
that has driven change. Today, poultry
accounts for more than half of all meat
consumed in the UK (by spend).
This increased demand has spurred
on significant market consolidation.
Now, by merging two well-established
businesses, we are in a prime position
to both compete and evolve in such a
We are different not because of what
we do, but, rather, how we do it. The
way we work fundamentally boils down
to how we treat people. We believe
that employees who feel satisfied,
valued and motivated will be far more
engaged than those who are not. We’ve
therefore established some core working
principles that apply throughout the
entire supply chain, including:
»A strong commitment to the health
and safety of everyone that works
for and with us.
»Fair and transparent pay rates:
all employees receive at least the
National Living Wage regardless of
age or role.
»Qualifications: Avara offers
apprenticeships up to graduate
level in food science and food
engineering. All our apprentices
receive a job from day one.
»No matter the situation, we work
with our core values in mind:
inclusivity, integrity, ambition and
The opportunity to offer degree-
level qualifications without the
accompanying debt is particularly
exciting. Britain’s pool of available
labour is shrinking at an accelerated
rate following the EU referendum;
the UK is no longer considered an
attractive economic destination for
EU nationals. “Growing our own”
has never been so important. For us,
the key to retaining talent is through
generating unique professional
opportunities and offering clear
Of course, along with labour
shortages, Brexit raises supply chain
concerns. Traceability and transparency
have long been of utmost importance
to British farming and manufacturing.
Indeed, it is what makes the UK
industry stand out on the global
stage. When purchasing British meat,
consumers have confidence in our
farming standards and are able to trace
each ingredient back to its source.
Naturally, the process is much more
difficult to replicate on an extended
international supply chain. For the
sake of both British consumers and the
wider industry, it is absolutely essential
our transparency and standards are
Our approach further extends to farms.
We employ skilled, knowledgeable
and passionate farming teams who
share our commitment to welfare. All
of our farms are Red Tractor assured
and independently audited, meeting
standards that exceed current UK
and EU legislation. Inside purpose-
built sheds, we maintain full control
of the environment, monitoring
temperature, humidity and airflow, in
addition to implementing enrichment
Fresh chicken has shifted
from an occasional treat
to a shopping basket
what we do,
how we do it
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30 | AVARA FOODS
to encourage naturalbehaviour.
Thedegree of attention we dedicate
to conditions, which is often
misunderstood or downplayed, allows
us to grow birds that are happy and
There are similar misconceptions
surrounding antimicrobial resistance
and the use of antibiotics in farming.
Antibiotic use has dropped dramatically
in the UK in the last decade. The years
between 2012 and 2016 saw a 72
per cent decrease in antibiotic usage
following the industry’s extensive
collaboration with researchers and
veterinary teams. On Avara farms,
we have started distributing herbal
alternatives, and are consistently
reassessing and reducing antibiotic use
where possible. The aim, above all else,
is to give our birds the best possible
start in life, and we are proud to be
proactive towards doing so.
Another issue that’s sparked headlines
over the past few decades is that
of food safety and contamination.
Thehorsemeat scandal and, more
recently, campylobacter concerns
have riddled the media of late. The
UK poultry industry is continuously
working to combat viruses, united
under the priority of producing safe,
trusted food. Specifically, Avara’s work
on campylobacter offers a fantastic
example of the progress the industry
is making. We’ve made various
modifications to our supply chain –
from enhanced bio-security on farms to
innovative technology in processing sites
– which have resulted in campylobacter
levels falling significantly. Much like
salmonella is close to extinction in
eggs, we hope that campylobacter will
pass as a footnote in history.
Our ethics seep into our wider
communities, too. Food poverty’s
a growing issue in the UK and, as
suppliers of healthy protein, it’s only
natural that we feel obliged to play
a positive role. In 2017, Avara Foods
(Cargill and Faccenda) provided enough
protein for 154,000 meals. Beyond
the supply of food, we are now keen
to explore other areas where we are
able to work with organisations, be
it through sharing expertise, offering
employment or supporting education.
This is a two-way, ever-evolving
relationship that helps our colleagues
understand the value and reach of
our products, while making a marked
contribution to alleviating UK poverty.
Avara Foods cares about its people,
animals and consumers. Our aim,
fundamentally, is to be a company you
want to work with and for, and this
begins at the very root of our business.
Though Brexit will challenge our
labour supply and transparency, we’re
confident that our industry standards
on welfare and food safety will
withstand great change. Together, we
are excited to learn, grow and, most
importantly, develop the UK farming
and manufacturing industry into the
best it can possibly be.
Our aim is to
be a company
you want to
work with and
The way we work boils
down to how we treat
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.
In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.
We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.
With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.
And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.
As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.