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Welcome to my latest roundup of interesting developments within recruitment and the food and drink i



How much water does your favourite avocado use when it grows?



I think it would be fair to say that many consumers are much more aware of how their food is being produced. It is common to look at nutritional labels and gradually diets are changing. Certainly, a lot of people are searching for quality food. They want to know animal welfare issues, additional flavourings, fat, sugar content and also general health and safety issues. However, what’s also increasingly important is whether food is being produced sustainably, from the quality of husbandry to time and mileage to the slaughterhouse all these affect buying decisions. Another significant consideration is the amount of water used and the impact it might be having on the landscape. Almond and avocado production are too classic examples. We make a switch from one thing and create another problem without intervention.


Seasonality is another game changer



We are so used to finding out of season produce that we sometimes forget how expensive to the environment our new-found hunger for these ingredients can be. However, greenhouse hydroponic cultivation can save water compared to field-based cropping. Practices have changed dramatically since the first commercial greenhouse hydroponic systems were developed.


Koen Boon, Managing Director- Europe of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) working within the LEI Wageningen UR, the Netherlands is enthusiastic at hydroponic’s potential future development processes.



He talked about how the TSC makes it their business to work with all kinds of stakeholders. Utilising a science-based approach they are able to work out where sustainability is being compromised, especially within supply chains. Having spotted issues, the TSC work out solutions to cool down the ‘hot spots’. Koen states that ‘A sustainable food production sector is the only way we can provide a planet of nine billion people with adequate food and water.’ This is not scaremongering as the UN has said that surprisingly only 0.5% of the earth’s water is fresh. If that isn’t mind boggling do bear in mind that 70% of this 0.5% is used within the agricultural sector. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to know resources need care.


Now is the time to really work hard to identify those supply chain and production hotspots


It is through this that we can further improve or eliminate. The environmental impact of crop production needs further improvement. The TSC is working hard to improve collaboration by promoting a clearer understanding, informed decision making and also a more standardised approach. Key to this development is a more transparent and efficient utilisation of all water resources and also the reduction and elimination of fertiliser-run off pollution and environmental damage.


By the way, for those completists amongst you, the answer to my original question is:

A mature avocado tree needs around is about 20 gallons of water a day during the irrigation season.


Zurich uses six new key words to great effect


I was interested to see that Zurich Insurance had made a conscious effort to increase the number of part-time and job-sharing roles to make their staff more flexible. As a consequence of this change in philosophy the number of women occupying senior positions has increased profoundly.


This comes after flexible working hours and gender-neutral language was used extensively in job advertisements. The government backed Behavioural Insights Team has created a study that shows just what the future of work might well look like. It is exciting to see these changes and how the gender pay gap is going to be tackled and also how women might feel more inclined to apply for senior management roles. This recent change yielded a 20% increase with 33% more females being hired for these senior roles.


Language plays a critical part in communication


This is obvious, but it is interesting how companies rarely interrogate the language they use that may well block women and others from progressing appropriately in their careers. My concern, personally, is how women have been burdened by the Covid 19 fallout. We might well have to ask the question: why is there a need for flexible and why does part time working attract women especially?


Flexibility makes all the difference


The findings form part of a wider study commissioned by the government and carried out by the Behavioural Insights Team. Zurich joined forces with the unit to identify issues that were blocking career progression for women. The research highlighted a lack of applications from women for senior roles. Many of these roles have not previously been available on a part-time or flexible basis and female employees reported that this lack of apparent flexibility was making them less likely to apply.


Steve Collinson, Zurich’s Head of HR, said when interviewed that, ‘Flexible working can help tackle diversity and inclusion issues.’ Flexible and part time working will not solve all issues but we’ve seen hugely encouraging results, simply by adding six words to our job adverts.’ Zurich feel that this change in approach fits more flexibly around family life. Therefore, talent that is currently being unused can be brought back into the workplace.’ They did say that women then have more access to higher paid jobs ‘while fitting other commitments around their careers.’


However, Minister for Women, Baroness Berridge, is keen to add her support and feels that flexible working should be embraced by more employers. She believes there is a benefit for both men and women.


To round up I thought it was worth exploring how Covid-19 has changed our approach to scent.



No, it’s nothing to do with losing one’s sense of smell but how we are all searching out exotic scents and cuisines in an attempt to leave Lockdown 1-10 behind. However, one by product of the Covid pandemic is our appreciation of our sense of smell – you sometimes don’t consider it until it vanishes.


Coralie Garcia Perrin, global strategic marketing director for Sweet Taste at Kerry has some predictions for 2021


It seems we are all pining for foreign climes and exotic dishes. As we are all banned from travel the only expeditions left for us are virtual ones and the concept of food tourism.


However, it’s not just about missing a Goan curry but something much more profound than that. We are all missing adventure and also, according to Coralie Garcia Perrin we are also raiding larders from across the globe in the hope we might boost our immune systems and improve our health. Those of you who have spiced up yoghurt with turmeric or even turmeric will know exactly what I am on about. If this sounds familiar then you are not alone.


According to Innova Consumer Survey 2020, six out of ten consumers globally have been actively searching out food and drink that will help them boost their immunity. That means food manufacturers will be looking to seduce our sense of smell and offer up flavours that make us feel better, whether that’s in a relaxing sense, comfort or even healing. Therefore do look out for zingy products that will focus our attention on our immune health. Kombucha, citrus fruits and green tea will all play starring roles.


Who knew chocolate was so good for you?


I don’t know if anyone else agrees but 2020 has been a year of treats where ‘comfort tastes’ met temptation and none of us had the strength to resist. How often have creamy desserts and other chocolate variations suddenly appeared at the bottom of the trolley? I guess we were all looking for something that would compensate for the lack of social life and overall stress levels we have endured for most of the year.


Certainly 2020 has been an extraordinary challenge but I have been delighted to see how the Food and Drink Industry has stepped up to the plate (see what I did there?)