Food Storage and Distribution Federation

Embracing change

While its moniker may have changed in the interim, the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) has been an ever-present source of support and encouragement to its members for over 100 years

Focused on representing and supporting the interests of the entire UK food and drink logistics industry, the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) began life in 1911, when it was first FSDF 127 bknown as the National Association of Cold Store Managers and Ice Makers. Several changes of name occurred in the following decades as the association’s reach and influence grew, bringing us to the point where, today, the FSDF oversees virtually the entire food logistics and supply chain spectrum.

“The change in name reflects how we now work with retailers, wholesalers, food service operators, manufacturers and, arguably our core group, third party logistics service suppliers in the temperature control sector,” explains Chris Sturman, Chief Executive Officer of the FSDF. “In a nutshell, we manage the relationship between the whole of the supply chain and external bodies, as well as the UK government and the European Union. To coin a popular catchphrase, we ‘help to feed the nation’.”

It is the job of the FSDF to effectively guide its members, a veritable who’s who of the food and beverage industry, and advise them of what actions may or may not be in their best interests, while also ensuring that their activities remain compliant with all laws, regulations and standards. “I have been in this job now for eight years and I can honestly say I have never been busier,” Chris enthuses. “I believe this to be, at least in part, due to the fact that there is more communication and collaboration going on than I can remember, which is a very positive thing.”

Global view
The federation has access to a wealth of information that its members can gain access to, not to mention a significant contact network, which is used to ensure best practice is applied to any undertaking. Perhaps its biggest collaborating partner is the British Retail Consortium, with which it has helped shape and perfect standards that have gone on to be adopted around the world. In addition, the FSDF works closely with the Health and Safety Executive and other bodies tasked with improving the industry’s environmental standards. “I think it is fair to say that we spend the vast majority of our time, quietly and without making a lot of fuss, ensuring that people have actually got food on their plate, wherever that plate may be,” Chris states.

One of Chris’ most significant areas of focus over the last decade has revolved around environmental standards and identifying ways that the industry can reduce its carbon footprint. 54“One of our bigger achievements has been the establishing of one of the key Climate Change Agreements (CCA) with the UK government,” he enthuses. “The agreement for the standalone food logistics FSDF 127 cfacilities sector, which we negotiated as a federation over ten years ago, provides energy levy rebates against pre-agreed targets being successfully met. This has enabled FSDF CCA members to receive tax back from the government in a simple, measurable way, which they can reinvest in their existing facilities to further improve their environmental standards, be that through the installation of solar panels, LED lighting or cold store refrigeration management systems.”

Recognising that the supply chain of the food and drink industry is very much a global network, the FSDF takes a global view of all its activities. Nevertheless, one cannot escape that perhaps the most pressing issue for its members at present does exist close to home, and that is the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“When it comes to Brexit, we see our role as being all about making sure, no matter how negotiations play out or what changes are enacted as it relates to borders or tariffs, that adverse impact on the existing supply chain is kept to the minimum,” Chris says. “For our part, we are currently running regular regional Brexit sessions, meeting with our members to gauge their opinions and identify their worries, and where they see future challenges or opportunities, which we can then feed back to our contacts within UK government.”

Seismic change
Come the summer of 2018, Chris will have been in his role for nine years and while he is suitably proud of the FSDF’s achievements in that time, he has already made plans to pass on the reins to someone new as he moves into a well-earned retirement. Beyond this date however, Chris retains a clear vision of what the future holds for the industry and the Federation.

“We have worked hard in recent years to raise the positioning of the Federation to the point where it is recognised for the important role it plays in assisting the wider food supply chain,” Chris concludes. “There has been seismic change throughout the food logistics industry during my time here and that will continue during what will also be a period defined by both further consolidation and greater globalisation. It is therefore important that we continue to provide our members with all the relevant information and support they require, while also reinforcing our own relationships at home and abroad.

“Things change quickly in this industry and we need to react to these changes accordingly, be it the increasing use of online shopping, the entrance into the sector of Amazon or simply the changing shopping habits of customers. Fortunately, our profile has never been higher than it is today and this will only help as we continue to do all we can to support our members.”