Developing a taste for success
Frozen food distributor Central Foods has just unveiled a new product development kitchen to help develop and showcase menu items for foodservice operators
Run by Gordon and Alison Lauder, Central Foods supplies fast food professionals across the UK with a wide range of products, including the well-known Golden Valley Foods poultry range which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Here, managing director Gordon Lauder tells us more about the business and his personal likes.
1. Was there a light bulb moment that led you to the food industry?
When I left school, I started working at a local supermarket, initially in the warehouse, then on the shop floor before becoming a manager and then regional manager. Later, I became a buyer and moved into product development…so you could say I’ve always been in the food industry in one form or another. Alison and I met at work, both working for the same food sector company. We have complementary skills and it has really helped us to develop Central Foods into the business it is today, along with the great team we have in place.
2. Biggest industry achievement/recognition to-date?
Alison and I are very proud that Central Foods has achieved BRC accreditation – it’s a worldwide recognised accreditation and means a lot to us. It’s just been renewed, and we are delighted to say that we achieved accreditation at the highest grade – double AA. On a day to day basis, we’re also very proud to be helping so many fast food outlets and takeaways across the UK to serve great-tasting food. We love developing new products for menus and take immense satisfaction from hearing positive feedback from our customers, and indeed their customers!
3. What do you do to wind down outside of work?
I’m pretty busy during the working week, but at weekends I like to run. It clears the mind and is the perfect time to think.
4. What has been the biggest change for your business over the last 5 years?
The potential impact of Brexit has hung over us and has added to the uncertainty. It makes it very difficult to plan, when no-one seems to know what is happening.
Technology has brought many positive changes for the business from the direct communication and marketing we can do via social media to the way we interact and support customers. There’s also been rapid growth in the development of new products for foodservice to take advantage of the latest food trends. For example, there are now many more gluten-free products available to make it easier for fast food professionals and takeaway outlets to serve really good quality items for those who need to avoid gluten in their diets. We’ve recently launched three new gluten-free chicken products that are superb.
5. Have you got a favourite food memory from your childhood?
My mum used to make rice pudding a lot at home, and I still love it.
6. What do you regard as being the most important factors for success in your business?
We spend a lot of time keeping up with food trends and trying to be one step ahead. We listen to our customers and really try to understand what they need to run a successful foodservice outlet, rather than imposing what we think they want. We value good communication and excellent customer service. Plus, we supply some excellent products which are good quality and easy to serve. Underpinning all this is the committed and talented team we have at Central Foods, who all contribute to making the business the success it is today.
7. How would you describe your desk?
Mine is immaculate. Very neat and ordered. Alison’s is what you’d describe as ‘busy’ but she’s very organised and knows exactly where everything is.
8. What is the biggest challenge to face from Brexit for Central Foods Ltd?
The uncertainty of Brexit has been the biggest challenge. We usually plan quite a long way ahead, but we’ve not been able to do that for some areas of the business. Plus, we have some clients in the Eurozone.
9. Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman?
Probably Batman. Like him, I don’t have any super powers, but I reckon I share some of his characteristics. I don’t have a butler named Arthur though, nor a hotline to the police commissioner!
10. What do you always carry with you?
My phone. I couldn’t be without it.
11. What do you regard as your biggest threat, opportunity or challenge for the next 12 months?
Again, it has to be Brexit. Who knows what is going to happen…
12. What do you predict to be the next big food trend/fad and where from?
The demand for vegan food has been increasing for a while and I believe this will continue. Much like gluten-free food has now become mainstream, I think plant-based options will become more popular. Fortunately, food producers have really risen to the challenge to create some great-tasting vegan products that can be easily served in fast food outlets and takeaways to cater for this demand.
13. Tea or coffee?
14. What is your favourite pudding?
I’m very partial to puddings and fond of most sweet treats, but rice pudding is my favourite.
15. What is your favourite fish and how do you like it cooked?
I’m fond of scallops. If we’re talking fish and chip shop fish, it’s difficult to beat a beautifully cooked piece of haddock.
16. Coke or Pepsi? Coke
17. What is your favourite Fast Food branding?
Am I allowed to choose Golden Valley Foods – our own brand, which this year celebrates its 20th birthday and which is really popular with fast food outlets and takeaways?
18. Where is your favourite worldwide holiday destination?
Barbados, with its sunshine, laid-back vibe and no stress.
19. Dogs or Cats?