Recapping the inaugural Sustainable Food Factory Conference

We recently attended the inaugural Sustainable Food Factory Conference, which brought together the UK food and drink manufacturing sector to discuss sustainability.

Held at Nottingham Trent University on 12 June, our business development manager Oliver Jenkins attended the one-day event. We sat down with him to find out more.

How did you find the Sustainable Food Factory Conference?

It was fantastic and very well attended! There were more than 200 delegates, and it was great to see some familiar faces as well as meet some new ones. We also had a stand at the event, so it was a good opportunity to explain what we do and discuss sustainable practices.

Sustainability is at the forefront of our minds on every project, so the speaker sessions were really useful for understanding how manufacturers are taking on the challenge of decarbonising their impacts, particularly around Scope 3 impacts.

Oliver Jenkins at the Sustainable Food Factory Conference stand

Tell us about the speaker series talks, did you have a favourite?

All the speakers were brilliant and very knowledgeable – however, my favourite was Tristan Fischer, CEO of Fischer Farms, who spoke with passion about the company’s vertical farm project and how sustainable initiatives must be practical to solve world problems

His presentation discussed their plans to meet the challenge of climate change and supply food in a changing world. He shared a statistic that caught everyone’s attention: 25% of the world’s food production sites will either be gone or have no fresh water supplies. It really highlights how important innovation is within the food and drink industry and the changes we need to make.

Vertical farming has the potential to meet the ever-increasing food production demands. This is evidenced by Fischer Farms’ 25,000 sq m state-of-the-art climate-controlled facility in Norfolk – which we were responsible for designing and building in 2023. It utilises an energy-efficient, LED-based lighting system to produce high-quality crops on just four acres of land – yielding 250 times more leafy greens than conventional farming thanks to its round-the-clock controlled growing environment.

But now is the time to invest and scale in these pioneering projects in order to enact real change.

Sustainable Food Factory Conference

What were your key takeaways from the event?

We heard from a wide range of world-class speakers, who covered topics such as navigating the sustainable manufacturing journey, decarbonising operations, and exploring the latest technologies aimed at reducing energy consumption and driving down emissions.

As a result, I took a variety of facts and learnings away from the event. The most memorable were:

  • Plan for success – Companies need roadmaps for sustainability success
  • No water – 25% of the world’s food comes from sources that will have no fresh water in the future
  • Smoother processes – 20% of all energy is used to reduce friction, so maintenance of equipment will significantly reduce energy and associated carbon emissions
  • Cost off the bottom line – Energy can account for 5-10% of spending in Food and Drink manufacturing processes
  • Hearts and minds – Reducing soy in food for livestock reduces carbon significantly but increases costs, major retailers do not think consumers would be willing to pay, despite the environmental benefits
  • Tough market to crack – White eggs are cheaper and the hens are more productive and require less resources in the process, meaning they have a lower carbon impact but consumers don’t like them
  • Real cost of sustainability – We should be considering a dedicated sustainability CAPEX pots with a ‘longer term view’, as traditional paybacks mean some projects will never be feasible

Will you be attending next year?

Absolutely. The Sustainable Food Factory Conference was established to help UK food and beverage manufacturers access the knowledge and contacts to start or continue on their decarbonisation journey – and I feel it did that and more.

I look forward to seeing the event go from strength to strength as the conversation and actionable results around sustainability develop.

NTU building

For more information about the event or our sustainable construction methods and technologies, please get in touch with our team.

To learn about the event, please visit