U I L Blending Solutions

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by U I L Blending Solutions'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 U I L Blending Solutions 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


Mark and Lorna Hirons, directors
of UIL Blending Solutions
Based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, in the north west of
England, UIL Blending Solutions command a position of
strength within the food and drink manufacturing industry.
Family owned and operated, UIL blend both liquids and powders,
and produce flavours and encapsulated ingredients. UIL work
closely with their customers to develop solutions in the form of
a liquid or powder blend that helps the user to not only develop
their final product, but also reduce supplier numbers, minimise
storage costs and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, errors in
the production process. Commercial director Mark Hirons will
explain how UIL work on a daily basis, as well as offering a view
on the marketplace that UIL operate within.
Excellence through focus
Honestly, I’m not a fan of marketing soundbites; I much prefer talking about
what we do, and our attitude towards our business partners. UIL started trading
roughly 30 years ago as Universal Ingredients, arguably as an accident of necessity.
We were formed to support another fledgling business that was having cashflow
issues. The three partners had contacts who required some contract blending to be
completed away from their site. For the next 20 years Universal Ingredients traded
with some growth in turnover, but without focus.
This changed ten years ago when my wife, Lorna, who is our technical director, and
I moved into the business. Lorna has a scientific background and was working with
GSK in regulatory affairs. My background is of a commercial nature.
»Commercial director:
»Established in 1986
»Based in Ellesmere Port,
»Services: Development and
manufacture of flavours
and powder blends for the
»No. of employees: 15
»Family-owned and operated
UIL Blending Solutions
Ambient liquid blending
Highlighting best practice
I believe that we brought an ambitious
attitude to a business that was already
competent at focusing on customer
service and nurturing relationships
both outwardly and internally.
We have overseen a rebranding
exercise, the aim of which was to
give us a clearer identity. We have
improved and extended our quality
accreditations, and we have taught an
attitude towards customer care that
We are very aware that we own and
operate a small business within a huge
marketplace. This, however, gives us
the ability to offer flexibility within
our service offering that shows our
commitment to the customer.
Road trip
Roughly five years ago I was fortunate
to be able to demonstrate this in a
very practical way. One of our flavour
customers had made a mistake in
their ordering patterns, which had left
them with a large planned production
run without a vital ingredient. I won’t
bore you with the whole story, but
due to haulier time constraints, I found
myself hiring a van and driving for
close to 24 hours, reaching a factory
in Hungary, which enabled delivery of
our flavour and eradicated the need
for a potentially expensive period of
downtime for the customer.
Driving through open borders also
made the trip quick and easy for me,
but maybe I shouldn’t go there…
Difficult times
We joined the business at a very
difficult time not only for the business,
but also the world. The financial
crisis was really taking grip, and
the regularity of orders at Universal
Ingredients was certainly slowing
down. With that in mind we knew
that we had to be prepared to try
We were approached by a client
who wanted their liquid sports drink
matched for the powder drink market.
Once Lorna had successfully matched
the product, we had a problem. The
cost of us blending the product to then
be sent elsewhere to be packaged was
prohibitive for ourclient.
The decision was made to borrow the
money to invest in a production line
that would enable us to manufacture
the complete product on site. Honestly,
borrowing the money was the easy
part. We had to nurture a culture
that would embrace this fulfilment.
I’m proud to say that as a business
we succeeded and have seen positive
results from this attitude.
Customer focus
At UIL we insist on delivering the best
service that we can. We are a small
team, but we make ourselves available
whether that is physically or on the
end of the phone to our business
partners. As mentioned before, our
ability and willingness to be flexible has
seen us garner business, as this truly is
valued in the marketplace.
Steam plant dedicated
to producing our liquid
savoury flavour range
Flexibility is
the key to our
Lorna and I are also very conscious
of building a culture that, while
professional, reflects our family values.
We don’t clock watch, never have,
and truly hope that we never will.
But the work gets done, maintaining
the standards that we demand. We
know that families will always come
first for our employees – Anthony
and Leonardo, our sons, come first
for us – thus, we understand that life
sometimes demands that time is spent
elsewhere. We encourage respect
within our team, and I believe that the
payback is loyalty and commitment.
Our industry
The food and drink industry constantly
evolves, which makes it an interesting
area to be a part of. Whether it is
the drive to reduce sugar in our
children’s diet, or salt reduction across
all demographics, we are asked on a
weekly basis to reformulate recipes for
the ever-changing market place.
The requirement for “cleaner” or
“free-from” labelling brings its own
challenges. We offer gluten-free
blending, which demands stricter levels
of controls over segregation of stored
ingredients, cleaning etc.
Constantly, we are asked to follow
different forms of accreditation,
which brings demands in terms of
maintaining records for our quality
department, and constant training in
areas of production.
Where we are
Since our arrival, Lorna and I have
quadrupled our liquid blending/
flavour capabilities, added two
powder blending areas and a sachet
production line and stimulated a
culture of quality and ambition. We
are developing more of our own
flavours and following on from
our success in the pet care market,
where we are constantly innovating.
We have increased our focus on the
rapidly increasing snacks and culinary
food market. Our customers range
from start-ups to large multinational
businesses, offering the same personal
service to all, while producing
excellent products and services that
are used internationally.
base includes
through to
Powder blending facility for large-scale manufacture of
seasonings, culinary flavours, beverage and bakery mixes
One of our experienced
powder blenders


This article was sponsored by U I L Blending Solutions. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister