The progress made towards gender equality in the food & drink industry was celebrated at the recent IFE show at ExCel in London, the twenty-first in the event’s history. The celebration followed government figures showing more women in work than ever before and the gender pay gap at a record low.

Christine Tacon, the Groceries Code Adjudicator, delivered an inspirational speech flagging up the many success stories and the opportunities for women in the food & drink industry. Members of the industry reflected at the event on how far the business has come in terms of the career prospects now open to women.

Another senior female figure, Helen Bird, Strategic Engagement Manager at The UK Plastics Pact/WRAP, led the debate on sustainability and described inconsistency in household recycling as one of the most pressing problems the industry faced. Speaking in The Big Debate on how the industry can make the food & drink world more sustainable, she shared examples of how to do better in eliminating unnecessary and problematic plastics.

Industry leaders also resolved at IFE that more work must be done to avoid food waste in the UK. One third of all food in the world is either wasted or lost each year, with the UK also wasting a significant proportion. Speakers on waste included Ben Elliot, Food Surplus and Waste Champion at Defra, and Laura Winningham, CEO & Co-Founder of charity City Harvest.

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