IFSTAL at the City Food Lecture 2019

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Rosina Borrelli reflects on IFSTAL’s visit to the City Food Lecture, a key event in the food industry calendar

The City Food Lecture is a prestigious annual event led by the city Livery Companies involved in agriculture and food. It draws an audience of some 650 industry leaders, academics and liverymen.

For the first time, IFSTAL attended the City Food Lecture, which took place at the end of February. We were fortunate to join the MorePeople sponsored student event where we had the opportunity to make a behind-the-scenes visit to the McDonald’s UK Headquarters and meet the speakers and panel before the main event.

Rosina Borrelli, the Workplace Engagement Lead, was joined by Andre Dornelles from Reading University, Catherine Price from Warwick University and Kaitlin Thompson from the Said Business School at Oxford University, all IFSTAL participants and successful in gaining a place.

HRH The Princess Royal chats to the IFSTAL group

In the morning, we visited McDonald’s UK ‘Hospitality House’ alongside students from Harper Adams, Kent Business School, Reading and others. A range of presentations gave insights into the nutrition, sustainability and agriculture objectives of the organisation. An interactive sensory demonstration was a highlight, pointing out the food science detail behind each and every bite! The process was taken from a McTaste panel where tasters are required to answer extensive questions during the following stages: Visual Assessment, Smell Product, Place in Mouth, Start Chewing, Roll on Tongue, Back of Mouth, Swallow, Retro Nasal. The concluding presentation was from Clare James, a recent graduate into McDonald’s who described her journey into the agriculture team and the range of skills required to work in food.

I appreciated the opportunity to go to McDonald’s HQ, see the office, and hear from a wide diversity of departments and professionals.


After lunch, the chance to meet the panel and speakers prior to the main event during our coach transfer to the Guildhall was a real treat. Themes that emerged in these discussions included the skills gap and the impact on Brexit on the entire food sector workforce.

The main lecture was delivered by Dominic Blakemore, Group CEO of Compass Group, and looked at the future of food and technology associated with this. See here for a summary of his predictions.

The panel debate then followed, chaired by Chris White, managing director of Fruitnet Media International and featuring Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union; Professor Corinna Hawkes, director, Centre for Food Policy School of Arts and Social Sciences, City University; and Tamira Treffers-Herrera, regional head Europe at Rabobank. The need to collaborate at every organisational level to tackle food system issues featured highly, and further reinforced the IFSTAL objectives. See here for a summary.

Being able to put questions to some of the leading people in the food industry and academia was an amazing opportunityI found the whole day to be relevant and enjoyable.


HRH The Princess Royal then delivered closing remarks on the event and we were lucky to chat to her over the supper at the end of a spectacular evening.

Brilliant! It was my first experience attending an event of such stature and importance for the business sector in food. … To hear HRH Princess Anne in person for the final statements and reflections was an impressive and enlightening moment.


Find out more at www.cityfoodlecture.com and watch the video of the event below.