Registration & Breakfast Networking
Join us from 08:00am for breakfast and the opportunity to network with industry colleagues.
Welcome to the inaugural Northern Ireland Food and Drink Conference 2023, held in partnership with the Department for Business and Trade, the Food Standards Agency and Invest Northern Ireland.
Please find below the conference programme, speaker profiles and further event information.
Should you have any queries throughout the day, please visit the registration desk (top of stairs, 1st floor foyer) or NIFDA Stand (inside Grand Ballroom, in exhibition area).
We hope you enjoy the conference.
Join us from 08:00am for breakfast and the opportunity to network with industry colleagues.
Michael Bell OBE, NIFDA & Conference Host
Rachel Gwyon, Director for Agriculture, Food and Drink, and Nations, Department for Business and Trade (DBT)
Dr Clive Black, Vice-Chairman and Head of Consumer Research, Shore Capital
Refreshments, Networking & Exhibitions
Emily Miles, Chief Executive, Food Standards Agency
Case Study Example with Q&A
Louise Robinson, Commercial Excellence and Client Impact Director, Kantar
Steve Baker, UK Minister of State for Northern Ireland
Lunch & Networking Exhibitions
Mark White, Groceries Code Adjudicator
Ian Wright CBE, Co-Chair of new Food & Drink Exports Council and Former CEO of Food & Drink Federation (FDF)
Joseph Doherty, Managing Director Re-Gen Waste Management
Tom Burke, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director, Coca-Cola HBC
Refreshments & Networking Exhibitions
Case study on automation and savings (in the form of an interview)
Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association
Michael’s passion for food began as a small boy, watching his father work in the family home bakery, with an early memory of a mountain of marzipan inspiring a career dedicated to food and drink.
Michael graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a Food Science (Hons) degree. He is a Chartered Scientist and a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology. He holds a diploma in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors and is a Chartered Director and has also studied at McGill University, St Joseph’s University, Cornell University and Cranfield University.
For 12 years, Michael worked in the bakery trade in Northern Ireland and Malta. During this period, he worked closely with major UK retailers and was the youngest member on the senior management board of Ormeau Bakery.
Since its foundation in 1996, Michael has been instrumental in the development of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA). He has also led the development of the Northern Ireland Food Chain Certification Ltd and the redevelopment of Taste of Ulster.
Michael is currently a Board Member of Agri-Quest and has held similar roles with AgriSearch and safefood. From 2018-2023 Michael served as Vice President of the Institute of Food and Science Technology. Michael supported the establishment of FareShare in Northern Ireland in 2014.
For many years, Michael has been a respected judge of various food and drink awards – at both local and national levels. He has also been instrumental in a number of European collaborative projects.
With just shy of four decades’ experience working in the food and drink industry, Michael remains passionate about inspiring the younger generation into a rewarding and stable career in the world of food and drink, “where every conceivable career aspiration already exists and is, in fact, flourishing.”
When he is not savouring good food and drink, Michael enjoys sailing and hill walking.
Department for Business and Trade
Rachel is the Director for UK Nations and Agriculture, Food and Drink in the Department for Business and Trade, based in Edinburgh.
Rachel’s background in Government includes roles in the Scottish Government as well as the UK Government, across a range of domestic, economic growth and international policy areas alongside operational delivery.
Shore Capital Markets
Dr Clive Black is Co-Founder, Director and Vice Chairman for Shore Capital Markets, a leading entrepreneurial investment bank in the UK, with particular responsibility for the consumer sectors.
Following his Ph D., research thesis on ‘Corporate Strategy in the Animal Feed, Beef and Dairy Sectors in Northern Ireland’ at The Queen’s University of Belfast (‘QUB’), Clive joined the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) in Knightsbridge, becoming Head of Food Policy where he advised & coordinated the organisation’s first food policy.
From the NFU he joined Northern Foods plc in Kingston-Upon-Hull, where he held several positions working for Group Executive Neil Davidson, including participation in the establishment of the Northern Milk Partnership, strategic planning for Eden Vale Food Ingredients & Coldstream/NFT distribution along with advisory work for Group Chairman Lord Haskins of Skidsby on food and agriculture policy.
He joined leading UK mid-cap stockbroker Charterhouse Tilney in 1995, based in Liverpool, where he became a Director, originally focusing upon equity research into UK food retailers followed by consumer goods and general retailers; Charterhouse floated several UK retailers including Iceland, JJB, Kwik Save and Ted Baker, and was banker to Wm. Morrison Supermarkets plus broker to T&S Stores (which was sold to Tesco).
In 2003 he joined Shore Capital Markets as a founding Director and Head of Research, opening the Liverpool office with co-director Eamonn Flanagan. Since establishing Shore Capital Markets, it has been highly active in the consumer arena in the UK & Ireland serving as a corporate adviser and broker to a wide range of companies.
Between 2011 to 2013 he was one of three advisors to the Food Standards Agency’s External Advisory Group on the Review of the Regulation of Food Hygiene in the UK, he was also Treasurer of the Caroline Walker Trust, which sought to improve the lives of Britons through nutrition following which he became a Non-Executive Director of The Community Shop a charitable venture based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire that seeks to help impoverished communities through entrepreneurship and food, which was acquired by Biffa in 2021.
In 2017 he was one of the keynote speakers at the Oxford Farming Conference alongside Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP where the competence of the UK Government was severely criticised. In 2022 he was appointed a Special Advisor by Sir Peter Kendall to his February Review of the Northern Ireland food system for the regional government, a report that was accepted.
He is a senior advisor to Coriolis Consulting, Edward Billington Group, Newton Europe and VeeTee and Non-Executive Chairman of Mash Direct and Morelli Ice Cream.
Food Standards Agency
Emily Miles is the Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, the non-Ministerial department set up in 2000 after the BSE crisis. The FSA supports UK, Welsh and Northern Irish Ministers to ensure the public have food they can trust. Emily joined the FSA in 2019. She was previously the acting Director-General for EU Exit Delivery in Defra, having joined Defra as their Group Director of Strategy in 2015 and coordinated Defra’s domestic preparation work for EU Exit from 2016. Over her twenty years as a civil servant, she has worked in Defra, the Home Office, Cabinet Office and Downing Street on immigration, policing, home affairs, business compliance and EU Exit, largely in policy roles but with some stints in operational delivery and programme management.
Louise Robinson is Commercial Excellence and Client Impact Director at Kantar. Louise has a career of over 20 years in FMCG, working in Insight, Category and Innovation roles at Unilever and Diageo amongst others. Her role at Kantar Worldpanel aims to delight clients with the impact our insight has on their business allowing them to make consumer and shopper based decisions.
Food & Drink Division, Invest NI
John has worked in the public sector in Northern Ireland for over 36 years and in economic development for 23 years, firstly with the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland then for Invest NI since its inception in April 2002. For almost 10 years he has been the Director of the Food & Drink Division in Invest NI, where he is responsible for a Team delivering a range of positive benefits for local food and drink producers aimed at making them more innovative; sustainable and inclusive. As well as managing client relationships with over 200 of our largest producers, the Team offers a range of services such as support for growth; consumer insights and commercial business development.
Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
Mark White was appointed Groceries Code Adjudicator in October 2020. Mark is a solicitor, with extensive international experience across sectors and a track record of delivering legal, governance and compliance across complex organisations.
With over 25 years of comprehensive whole-chain experience in the Food Industry, Jonathan is well-connected and has helped multiple businesses succeed in attaining their goals.
He is a graduate of Edinburgh University with a PhD from the Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland/Queen’s University Belfast. He has worked as a Policy Advisor for the National Farmers’ Union in England before moving on to become Sainsbury’s Agricultural Manager. Headhunted by Dunbia (one of Europe’s leading red meat processors), he then spent 13 years running Agricultural Supply Chain Research and Development, finishing as Head of Agriculture and Research (reporting to company CEO) with a team spread across the UK. Jonathan is also a Nuffield Scholar (2014 year) where he studied methods of effecting change in agriculture and food production.
Jonathan is an exceptional people manager with over 20 years of multi-site, multi-project management and delivery at a commercial level with several of these projects involving detailed project governance. He is a very strong communicator, chair and facilitator with the ability to relate to all aspects of the production chain from family farm through to multi-national agribusiness and retailer. He has extensive experience of the setup of specialist food chains and delivering them to commercial retail and has managed a number of very significant and high-profile projects, and will be heading the team delivering the Advanced Food & Drink Manufacturing Network which is a NIFDA project supported by Invest Northern Ireland.
Jonathan founded Birnie Consultancy in 2017 as a way to use his unique skillset to benefit a broad range of businesses. He works extensively with clients to understand their issues and develop practical solutions.
Joseph Doherty is Managing Director of Re-Gen Waste, a Northern Ireland-based recycling company. Set up by brothers Joseph, Aidan and Colin Doherty, the company works closely with Councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on recycling domestic materials and manufacturing waste-derived fuels. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management and a Board Member on Defra’s Advisory Committee on Packaging, Joseph has overseen the creation of 400 ‘green jobs’ since 2003. He is a founding member of Recycle Northern Ireland, a trade body representing a diverse group of independent businesses in the waste, recycling, and resource sector. Joseph has a significant interest in the proposed deposit return scheme and the UK Government’s other proposals affecting the industry.
Russell Smyth is a partner in KPMG Ireland and leads the firm’s dedicated sustainability and climate change advisory unit, KPMG Sustainable Futures. Russell has over 15 years’ experience of working in the renewable energy and sustainability fields both locally and internationally, with a key focus on ESG strategy, climate risk and low carbon funding.
I began working at Frylite Solutions over 12 years ago as Environment, Health and Safety Manager. I am now the Head of Compliance and Sustainability based at our Head Office in Strabane.
My passion is about finding solutions and driving sustainability in the Food & Catering industry across the island of Ireland. I am delighted to be driving the sustainability agenda of a pioneer in the catering industry that has circularity at its very core.
My career spans nearly 25 years specialising in occupational health and safety and environmental management, gained through working in defence for 10 years and over the last 14 years in the private sector, supporting the food manufacturing industry. The knowledge and skills gained over the years has given me the tools that I use daily to drive continued improvement, transparency, and a greater understanding of what we do and how it impacts our stakeholders. This is such an exciting time for Frylite, sustainability is integral to everything we do, we understand the importance of what we do and how it impacts on our current generations and how our actions impact our future generations, whilst ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social wellbeing.
Brian is an operational excellence specialist, having developed and refined his skills over the past two decades within leading international food businesses, namely Moy Park and The Kerry Group. In his current role leading Moy Park’s operational excellence efforts, he is focused on developing and delivering a strategic approach to further implement the continuous improvement culture throughout their 12 main processing facilities with 10,000 colleagues.
‘Operational Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well’
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