A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Fesa's best practice article

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 Fesa is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Managing Director
Our Lincolnshire
Historically, the fresh produce sector has always been
associated with tasty, wholesome fruits and vegetables
imported from overseas to complement the UK’s
excellent homegrown harvest. The industry prides itself on
being at the vanguard of business innovation, and it has
traditionally sought to improve shelf life and quality of product
for the UK consumer by providing the best and most relevant
logistical solutions. Food safety, genuine preservation of load
integrity through visibility of the supply chain and subsequent
consumer confidence will continue to be an increasingly
key performance indicator for the industry’s future. Fesa UK
Ltd is at the fore of all these developments, something their
Managing Director, Justin Szymborski, discusses.
Our fundamental features
I first worked in a traditional greengrocer in 1987 and joined Fesa as an account
handler in 2000, before becoming managing director in 2014. I have always sought
to retain and nurture the family-orientated culture established by the founders,
while wrestling with the inevitable challenges associated with business growth
amounting to a turnover of around £95 million and a commercialised volume of
100,000 metric tonnes of fruit, salads and vegetables.
Typically, people involved in fresh produce are passionate about it. It is not
perceived as being a particularly glamorous industry, it is based on high-risk stakes,
»Managing Director:
»Established in 1984
»Located in Spalding, Lincolnshire
»Services: Wholesale of fruit and
»No. of employees: 103
»Fesa UK Ltd created an
associated third-party logistics
service provision company
called Produce Logistics UK Ltd
in 2013
Fesa UK Ltd
it tends towards low margin returns
and it requires the investment of
long hours to succeed. Indeed, the
products that we lovingly cherish are
often derided as mere “commodities”.
Despite highly developed growing
practices, we are essentially
at the behest of what mother
Fesa’s successful strategy has been to
market crops (grown both abroad and
in the UK) in their entirety, identifying
relevant quality standards and making
the offer appropriate to the target
sectors. We supply processors, food
service companies, supermarkets and
wholesale markets, minimising waste
and optimising commercial value,
and we underpin the business with
a robustness derived from a diverse
customer portfolio. Additionally, I
have purposely embraced difficult
products such as mangos, with their
complex sourcing calendars, multiple
countries of origin and requirement for
customised infrastructure and skilled
staff to ripen them here in the UK. We
support our farmers by financing the
crops and sharing the risk. We offer
our customers innovative initiatives,
such as compostable packaging, to
help add value to our proposition.
Our differentiators
I have sought to differentiate Fesa
from its competition by working to
the highest levels of professionalism,
thereby culturally future-proofing the
business and “setting the bar” for
others to follow.
Fesa’s site in Spalding holds the highest
level of BRC (a global food standard)
accreditation and our growers are
Global Gap certified, meaning they are
annually reviewed to ensure adherence
to best practices. We conduct
individual customer accreditation
requirements on our crops, including
Tesco “Nuture” (TN11) and M&S
“Field to Fork”.
Our ethical credentials are borne out
by our commitment to SMETA annual
grower audits (Sedex Members Ethical
Trade Audits) conducted by third-party
accredited and supermarket-approved
auditing companies. We help develop
best social practices to safeguard and
improve health, safety and welfare for
small-farm holders through GRASP
(Global G.A.P. Risk Assessment on
Social Practice). We proactively prevent
modern-day slavery through the
multi-stakeholder initiative Stronger
Together, addressing any potential
risk of forced labour resulting from
poverty, inequality and discrimination.
Paving the way for best
From an environmental perspective,
Fesa promotes biodiversity,
conservation and sustainable farming
practices through initiatives such as
Rain Forest Alliance. Fesa’s Spanish
partner, Anecoop, has research centres
that pioneer and teach environmentally
friendly farming techniques that help
reduce pesticide usage. Laboratory
pesticide and microanalysis, as well as
adherence to full traceability protocols,
help fulfil Fesa’s commitment to food
safety and quality management.
Setting the bar for
others to follow
We support
our farmers by
financing the
crops and
sharing the
Highlighting best practice
Agriculture is increasingly being
pressurised by climate change.
Deflation, exacerbated by the use
of retail offers on produce to drive
footfall as a response to the market
share success of discounters, persists,
despite well-documented supply-
chain cost increases. Labour shortages
prompting investment in automation
and exposure to volatile currency
strengths, both of which are affected
at this stage by the perceived threat of
Brexit, endanger sustainability.
As enduring as the fresh produce
industry has been, it is my opinion
that sustainability must be built on the
preservation of credibility, food defence
and product authenticity. Fesa has a
documented assessment of security
arrangements in place to prevent either
deliberate or accidental contamination
of stock. However, access through the
supply chain is a risk, including road, sea
and air freight. Real-time transparency
of the supply chain is essential to
garner trust and take responsibility.
Produce Logistics was established
alongside Fesa to independently
offer third-party storage, packing
and logistical solutions, with the aim
of mitigating cost and maintaining a
commercial edge for Fesa’s trading
team. Effectively, we have shared
Fesa’s infrastructure with a wider client
base to provide an affordable platform.
Today, the growers, receivers,
hauliers and intermediaries, as well
as governments, face innumerable
challenges to preserve the efficiency
and integrity of the fresh produce
supply chain. Poorly managed produce,
criminal activity, illegal immigration,
food tampering and uncertainty
regarding the impact of Brexit all
present evolving challenges.
Produce Logistics has responded by
engaging with the technology sector,
culminating in the development of
the Octosense, a mobile unit that
uses a combination of sensors that
monitor location, carbon dioxide,
light and temperature levels. GPS and
machine-learning methods identify,
manage and resolve the key problems
previously outlined. Interfacing with
the cloud-based “BlueRing” system,
we are able to give our customers
access to a fully customised, digitised
dashboard, driven by real-time data
capture from the Octosense, ensuring
accurate and timely dissemination
of data to key stakeholders. Our
new initiative provides three core
»Security and interior condition
»Resource planning and routing
»Border crossing management
Helping to pioneer technology to
mitigate risk will maintain the integrity
of the UK’s supply chain. I also
believe that such technology plays
a fundamental role in solving the
quandary of the frictionless movement
of goods across borders by providing
transparency of manifested inventory
from trusted trade partners. This, in
turn, will allow freight to continue
to move largely unabated while
preserving safety, security, cost-
effectiveness and best use of existing
border agency resources.
Helping to
technology to
mitigate risk
will maintain
the integrity
of the UK’s
supply chain
Digital solutions


This article was sponsored by Fesa. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

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.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy