PTF looks to future at annual dinner

Bacon importers and UK processors were among guests at the glittering Provision Trade Federation (PTF) dinner in London last night.

The annual dinner is organised by the PTF for its members - people from companies of all sizes involved in the trading in provisions, in particular bacon and ham; chilled and processed meats; dairy products of all kinds, including milk powders, cheese, butter, yogurt and other dairy desserts; and canned foods.

The event, which is held at the Grosvenor House, attracted more than 800 guests this year, including key industry players, senior representatives from government agencies and ambassadors from countries with which the UK has a significant trade in provisions.

PTF chairman Tony Stanton, managing director of Direct Table, gave an after-dinner speech. Referring to the fact that previous PTF dinners have attracted more than 1,100 people, he said: "This does not reflect a weakness, it means there are fewer companies. We are leaner, but not meaner."

He added that it would be difficult to recall a year in which the variables faced by businesses have been quite so volatile and difficult. "I do believe we are fortunate to be in the food industry where we do not suffer the huge swings in consumer demand. Everyone has to eat," he said. "Nevertheless, our narrow margins mean even small changes in demand can have a devastating affect."

Looking to the future, he said that the PTF will continue to support those who fight to innovate and keep their place on the retail shelf. He added that currency volatility will continue to challenge importers and exporters, but said: "Our members are historically resilient and resourceful. I am confident this will see them through and out the other side. Whatever that may be."

PTF is the only trade association whose members include importers and exporters of provisions as well as UK processors and retailers. The organisation provides member-only market information to help members keep pace with the fast-moving developments in the trade in provisions.