New Members: EC Drummond and ADAMA on using Trainees for diverse roles within a business

April 19, 2022

Drumroll, please… yet another two industry-leading businesses have joined the MDS family! Agribusiness EC Drummond, and crop protection business ADAMA have both already taken on Trainees for the upcoming summer season.

 Agribusiness EC Drummond is a large and diverse business spread across the UK, but it hasn’t lost its family feel. According to HR Manager Nick Gammon, the business will utilise Trainees within varied roles across all of their divisions.

 What does EC Drummond do, and why is working there so great?

“The Drummond family has a proud history of farming in Ross-on-Wye. Since Eric Drummond Senior first came to Homme Farm in 1956, three generations of our family have worked together to build a profitable agribusiness based on responsible farming practices.

Today, the EC Drummond Group consists of six companies that manage our Poultry, Arable, Top Fruit and Soft Fruit divisions, which are geographically spread across the entire UK.

People are at the heart of what we do. Without people, the business does not progress; therefore, we look to develop and grow people at all stages of their careers.

Our commitments to family and our beautiful surroundings remain at the heart of everything we do. These commitments endure as we continue to build a modern, sustainable agribusiness that will allow future generations to work in the farming sector for years to come.

Although the business has grown significantly, it is important that we remain to our roots and are still very proud to call Homme Farm home.”

How are you planning to utilise Trainees across the different areas of your business, and what are your long-term aims with MDS?

“We will provide Trainees with an understanding of the business that will allow them to develop and thrive. Our first Trainee will be engaging within our soft fruit and top fruit divisions, where they will learn and interact with the processes of picking, packing and transportation to customers. We hope that working alongside other nationalities will also provide a crucial cultural experience.

EC Drummond must engage with MDS, as an industry leader, to deliver the skills and knowledge for our potential managers. We anticipate that by working with MDS, we can play our part in developing the future leaders and show the variety of opportunities that exist within the fresh produce sector.

We envisage using the drive and determination of MDS Trainees to look at sustainability and environmental aspects of the business during the winter season. Trainees will provide the link to new innovations and thinking within the organisation and will bring various practices to develop their own thoughts and potential achievements. In return, we all will progress the fresh produce sector together.”

ADAMA is a global crop protection company that will also offer very diverse opportunities to Trainees in marketing and agronomy. Communications Manager Abbie Bieny explained how ADAMA hopes to benefit from MDS, across the organisation.

 What does ADAMA do, and what makes working there so great?

“ADAMA is a global crop protection manufacturing organisation focusing on off-patent technology. We provide a wide range of fungicides, herbicides and insecticides across the majority of key market sectors within the global agricultural environment.

Although a global business in a mature market, ADAMA’s core values allow us to work at speed and agility to make changes and innovate in a way that is quite unique. We are fast-paced, energetic and fun. It’s a small team environment, ensuring everybody has a say, all views count. There is never a bad question!”

How do you see MDS fresh produce Trainees supporting your business as a crop protection company?

“Historically agriculture and, on occasions, crop protection have been seen as a little too traditional. However, having gone through the pandemic, we have seen a considerable change. Mainly, there have been significant changes in the use of technology and communication. It is still very much a “people” industry, but a hybrid way of working has been a positive step forward.

MDS Trainees will be a valued source of new ideas in two different areas of the business; marketing and agronomy. Hopefully, this will provide the business with the latest insights from across the industry, with fresh eyes, energy and potential future recruitment opportunities.

MDS offers us the opportunity to recruit motivated candidates with different backgrounds to suit varying job requirements. A more diverse pool of talent ultimately provides richness in our output to the industry.”

MDS is looking forward to working with EC Drummond and ADAMA as we continue to expand the business. Our growing Membership and new programmes will ensure an even more diverse talent pool for the fresh produce supply chain.

Amy Wilkinson on the top benefits of coaching and development

April 12, 2022
More and more, organisations and individuals are seeing the endless benefits to investing in professional development.

For organisations? A happy, loyal, motivated and valuable workforce who strive to progress and improve. Businesses can even attract better quality candidates by promoting a culture of development. This month, we spoke to Amy Wilkinson, a career coach and facilitator who specialises in food industry careers with over 20+ years experience across the supply chain.

Hi Amy, it’s great to speak to you! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

Well, I am a coach, facilitator and “Oh for Foods Sake” podcast co-host specialising in helping people in the food industry to be more confident and resilient, so they can get the recognition they deserve in their careers without frazzling themselves. 

I have worked in food manufacturing for over 20+ years across various functions. I started working in Operations but quickly moved into Process Development. Since then, I have worked in NPD, Commercial and Marketing roles. 

Ten years ago, while working as a Senior Manager in the food industry, I completely physically and mentally burnt out. Working in food is very rewarding, but it can be stressful at times!  

I bounced back and returned to a successful career with new-found boundaries. It is now my mission to help other people in the industry to have the same success, without burning out. I coach people 1:1 and in group workshops to help them be more confident, influence better and improve their resilience. 

And what do you find are some of the benefits of coaching and career development for individuals and businesses?

The biggest benefit of coaching is that it is tailored to the individual. We are all different, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. The coach helps individuals get to know themselves better and learn what works for them. 

 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence. Over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships and more effective communication skills. I have seen people I work with go from terrified to speak up in meetings, to presenting to over 200 people and getting multiple promotions in the time they have been coached. It really is a superpower! 

 There are also loads of benefits to organisations! People want more from their jobs these days than just a pay-cheque. Young people, in particular, want to feel like their job has meaning, purpose and is teaching them new things. By investing in coaching and mentoring, organisations can support these individuals with their career development. Individuals are more likely to stay within the organisation and continue to add value. That, right there, is your reason to invest in coaching for your business. The payback is significant (in the ICF study, it was shown that ROI is, on average, 7 times the initial investment!). 

So, is coaching for anyone at any stage in their career?

It is absolutely for people at all stages of their careers. It used to be a mystery thing that only Chief Execs and Board members had access to, but as coaching has become more mainstream, it is becoming more accessible to more junior team members. 

It’s part of the mission of my business to make coaching more accessible to people at the start of their careers because it really can propel you to levels you wouldn’t otherwise achieve. 

Coaching can really help empower individuals to take control of their personal development and thrive. It can support you in developing the skills you need to do your job more effectively.

How do you feel the food industry is changing regarding coaching, development and wellbeing?

When I started out in the industry, coaching was unheard of, and mental well-being wasn’t talked about. When I burnt out, back in 2012, there was still a massive shame attached to not being able to “cope”, but the reality was that I had little support, nor did I feel able to discuss how I was feeling with anyone at work. 

I do think things are changing. I believe the pandemic, the “great resignation”, and a greater focus on mental health in the mainstream press have all played a part in this. It’s still a mixed bag across the industry and a big tide to turn, but I am hoping I can play a role in that change. I think that more progressive organisations are seeing the benefits of supporting the development of their employees, whilst also supporting their well-being. 

Find out more

Take a listen to the Oh For Food’s Sake podcast with Amy Wilkinson and Lucy Wager. This month, MDS Business Development Manager Kirsty Barden joined Amy and Lucy to discuss the importance of offering development opportunities to individuals who are new to the food industry and how MDS helps businesses to provide this.

Open in Spotify


New Members: Utilising Trainees across the entire supply chain

March 8, 2022

We are happy to announce two new MDS Members. Keelings and Coregeo are two very different businesses, but both are already utilising MDS Trainees! We spoke to the businesses on how Trainees can adapt to organisations across the supply chain.

Coregeo Head of Marketing, Michelle Evans, spoke to us about how MDS fresh produce and supply chain Trainees can be utilised in a marketing and branding business and what makes MDS stand out. 
Working at Coregeo 

“Coregeo is the UK’s leading fresh produce marketing and branding agency, working in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia. The work that Coregeo is doing, together with our great Licensee partners, is driving all our brands to achieve great success. 

Passion for and commitment to our brands, partners, and customers are our core values. We are continually asking ourselves how we can improve on what we do. Our company and the work we do is dynamic. We are constantly evolving and willing to explore new ideas, making it a very exciting place to work.” 

Why MDS? 

“We have long been aware of the MDS programme and how respected it is across the industry. The Trainees we have met have always impressed us, both in their capability and attitude. 

Coregeo is unique within the industry, especially within the retail environment. Our business has grown substantially, and we struggle to find candidates with suitable experience. MDS will offer the opportunity to increase awareness of professional consumer marketing within the sector and find excellent candidates for our team.”  

How will Coregeo utilise Trainees? 

“We are very excited to be welcoming our first Trainee to our PR and Social team. Coregeo intend to become a long-term Member and offer our Trainees the opportunity to work in a variety of departments. We hope that they may well consider joining the Coregeo family in the future. We’re confident that there will be considerable competition within our management team to have an MDS Trainee!” 

Head of People and Culture, Nicola Thomas, explained how Keelings, an Irish-owned family business, focused on growing, sourcing and fresh produce solutions, will support supply chain career progression through MDS. 
Working at Keelings 

“We pride ourselves in having a clear purpose to guide values, People Matter, Teamwork, Integrity and Passion for Achievement. We practice a positive culture of learning and growth. Keelings recognise that our biggest assets are our people who strive for excellence every day and support one another to deliver the best results. We recognise and embrace the importance of all our colleagues and support our people to realise their potential and to be part of a winning team.” 

Why MDS? 

“We have previously worked with MDS and were very satisfied with the calibre of candidate. We feel that working in partnership with MDS is important for our growth by looking at our leaders of the future. As specialists in fresh produce, we can work together to give aspirational people the experience, confidence and training to ensure the continued success of our industry in the long term.” 

How will Keelings utilise Trainees? 

We will endeavour to deliver the best possible experience to all MDS Trainees, providing an all-round approach to their journey with us. Our aim is growing the partnership with MDS into the future with many more years of working closely and collaboratively to give trainees the experience and exposure to our business and industry that supports and nurtures their journey. 

We are delighted to have Coregeo and Keelings on the programme. Our Membership and the diverse fresh produce supply chain opportunities we can offer are continuing to grow. The MDS team, our Trainees and associates are excited to see how the scheme can develop.

Supply chain

Food Supply Chain: The perfect opportunity for a career switch

February 15, 2022

Michael Alexander is a Raw Materials Quality Controller with Branston Potatoes. Before entering the food and fresh produce industry, he worked as a Retail Store Assistant and Delivery Manager for a large department store brand, with unstable income and little opportunity for progression. Michael hadn’t considered a career in food until a friend who worked at Branston Potatoes Ltd recommended he apply.

Life before the food industry

“I didn’t have a connection to the food industry before working at Branston, my mum is a school Science Technician, and my dad is a Mechanic. After I finished school, I went to college to study photography, and I then worked for a large clothing and department store retailer for about three years.

I enjoyed working in retail, but there wasn’t much stability—contracts with very low hours that really fluctuated at certain times of the year and little progression opportunities. I could never guarantee full-time work.”

Finding Branston

“I came across a position with Branston through a friend who worked there. What initially attracted me was doing something that offered a challenge and was completely new. I’ve always liked a busy and fast-paced work environment, so coming to an intake QA/Weighbridge job seemed ideal.

A lot of the skills I developed in my previous role were easily transferred to a job in the food industry. Working well under pressure in a small team was always something I needed to be good at when working in retail, and now I use this experience to ensure we get all the crops to the factory in time to be processed.”

Career Switch

“Completely changing my career wasn’t all easy though. I was very used to working in a customer-facing role, so transferring into a job where I didn’t see hundreds of customers a day took some getting used to. But I soon adapted.

Not long after working for Branston, I quickly realised what a key industry it was. I knew I wanted to make a career out of this for myself. Since starting, the Branston team have pushed me to progress. I have had the opportunity to get more involved in the farming side of the business. This experience has helped me realise that I’d love to work in an agronomy role.

I would always recommend a career in the food production industry, even if you haven’t considered it before. It can be pretty daunting to people who see it as a busy and pressurised environment. However, once you get settled in, you realise just how important and rewarding the work you’re doing is. It’s so important to our country.”

We can help

MDS have launched two new food supply chain development programmes. If you would like to find out more about how we can support you in making a career switch please contact us:

It might just be the best decision you will ever make!

Career switch

#NAW2022: Funding boosts fresh opportunities in food supply chain

February 10, 2022

Ex-forces and career changers are being targeted in our bold new programme that aims to skill up the fresh produce sector.

Kickstarted by a £450,000 Government grant for flexi-apprenticeships, MDS will be using the funding to create a training programme for non-graduates and triple the number of secondments in the sector. We will be introducing an Operations & Development scheme tailored to non-graduates already in the workplace. The existing Leadership & Management training scheme will also be opened up to military service leavers and professional career changers with leadership experience.

MDS Chief Operating Officer Sapphira Waterson, who has a long-standing connection with the armed forces through her work with the charity SSAFA, said:

“This funding is an exciting and long-planned step for MDS to expand our popular leadership training and attract others on a different work ladder with diverse perspectives and skill sets into our sector.

 “Giving ex-military personnel a route into the sector has been a passion of mine for both the opportunity it gives food supply chain businesses and those leaving the forces to develop a compelling career. As team players with a bias for decision making and completing tasks, ex-service personnel are a perfect fit for our fast-paced sector, and in turn it is a route for them to continue to develop professionally and personally when they leave the military.

 “Equally it offers exciting new challenges for others in the workplace who don’t have a degree but have a drive and interest to develop their careers. They may have come from retail, healthcare or hospitality, or are returning to work after a break.

 “I would urge all food supply chain businesses to reassess how they can maximise on this and benefit from strengthening their operations with high calibre trainees at different levels, from shop floor to management.”

In order for the programme to reach its full potential, MDS is calling on fresh food and food supply businesses to look at the opportunity in their own businesses to bring new talent in.

We are looking to nearly triple the number of training placements, from 78 to 220, available in food businesses.

For businesses in the sector, working with MDS is the best way to upskill without any extra hassle for employers, says Richard Whittle who is an MDS board member and MD of engineering experts Protolan, which has taken over which has taken trainees on MDS secondments for 16 years:

“This is a real opportunity for food supply chain businesses to look at their operations as well as management level roles, particularly as the availability of labour in the industry changes. By joining MDS, all the leg work is done. The MDS team has huge experience in recruiting candidates that are of the right calibre and fit, and proactively support with relevant training and mentoring, all of which will help drive the business forward. The government funding is time limited though and we need to get started fast, so we are calling on food supply chain businesses to sign up and help us get our first secondments in place this April. Ask for as many trainees as you need – this is such a golden opportunity.”

For nearly 40 years we have run a two-year Leadership and Management programme, which currently sees 78 Trainees placed every six months primarily with food supply chain businesses. Six-month secondments include roles in marketing, project management and engineering, supported by active mentoring and skills development from MDS and the Apprenticeship College.

The new Operations & Development scheme created as a result of the funding will fill roles at operational level. These are hands-on roles, that could start on a production line, but the trainees will have the aptitude and desire to move into more senior roles, for example packhouse manager. In total, there will now by 220 placements available every six months.

The government funding package was announced in March 2021 as part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget, with the aim of tackling the national skills shortage by encouraging businesses to invest in their workforce. The £451,078 funding will allow MDS to employ additional staff to recruit Operations and Development trainees, manage the new programme and pay for the apprenticeship training.

To find out more as a business or to apply as a trainee, contact Kirsty at MDS

#NAW2022: The Summer Berry Company on MDS Training Benefits

February 7, 2022

#NAW2022 (National Apprenticeship Week) is back! The annual week-long celebration of all things apprenticeships highlights all the fantastic achievements being made by apprentices and employers across the UK.

MDS are Experts in Professional Apprenticeship Training within the Food and Fresh Produce Industry

MDS are experts in professional training within the food and fresh produce industry with over 36 years of experience. The current level 5 CMI (Chartered Management Institute) certified management training scheme is carried out through The Apprenticeship College and has been running for two years.

As well as MDS Trainees, there are currently over 42 Member employees enrolled on the scheme. Member delegates represent a range of businesses across the food and fresh produce industry such as The Summer Berry Company, G’s Fresh, Aldi, Fyffes, Del monte, Cobrey Farms and Protolan.

“A truly unique learning experience”

MDS Members are seeing the benefits of the training made available to them through MDS. Diane Grace, HR Director at The Summer Berry Company, explained why they chose to enroll their own staff onto the programme, “We decided to enroll four of our managers and our internal Graduate Trainees on to the level 5 apprenticeship course to provide them with an opportunity to study and gain an internationally recognised qualification with the Chartered Management Institute. The group are learning skills that will help them to progress to higher levels of management. This supports our culture of investing in our employees’ development and supporting them to progress within the business.”

“We chose this programme because it offers training in a broad range of skills and throughout the programme, each delegate is assessed and works with a coach to support them. They also receive a tailored development plan, ensuring a truly unique learning experience. One clear benefit is that this programme is funded by the Apprenticeship Levy funds so there is no cost to the business. We hope that another group will commence the programme in September 2021.”

The Summer Berry Company employee Camilla Langmead started the scheme in September 2020 and is really reaping the benefits, explaining “The course has been extremely valuable, and I have attended workshops where I have been able to directly apply the skills to my day-to-day job. I look forward to gaining more experience, developing my knowledge, and pushing myself to reach my potential within our fast-paced industry.”

#NAW2022 MDS Livestream

If you would like to find out more about the apprenticeship training opportunities available through the MDS Development scheme, we are running an exciting free event on Thursday 10th February at 12:00 pm on LinkedIn live. Join MDS COO Sapphira Waterson, Business Development Manager Kirsty Barden and Trainee Jake Mac Mahon for an #ApprenticeshipWeek live-streamed webinar with Quantet group’s (The Apprenticeship College) Tilly Allen.

We’ll be breaking some of the myths surrounding apprenticeships and discussing the endless opportunities available to apprentices and businesses within the food sector.

  • How have apprenticeships changed over the last 10-15 years?
  • How are apprenticeships supporting the food and fresh produce industry?
  • What can businesses gain from apprentices?
  • What apprenticeship opportunities are available within the food and fresh produce industry?

These are just some of the questions we’ll be covering during this short 1-hour webinar: SIGN UP NOW


MDS Awards

January 26, 2022

Meet the up-and-coming food and fresh produce changemakers announced at the MDS Awards

This month, the best and brightest of food and fresh produce came together for the MDS Meet the Trainees awards. Organisations and young leaders from across the industry celebrated the monumental achievements made over the last two years. These award winners are shaping the future of the industry.

Meet the future leaders of Food and Fresh Produce

Doug Henderson Leadership Award: Rachel Carroll, Group 47

Fresh Produce AwardsThis award celebrates the highest level of leadership ability. Rachel received the award for her positive attitude and impact on MDS Members. Rachel explained how she demonstrated true leadership ability in her secondment with Finsbury Food Group.

“I led a project with Finsbury Food Group to increase recycling rates by introducing new waste streams. I identified new waste streams and installed waste flow systems. Then I created and ran a campaign to increase site recycling within offices and canteens which was rolled out to all sites within the wider group. This project is increasing the company’s environmental status and will produce large cost savings through rebates. The project was even recognised by senior corporate management and nominated for an Operations Brilliance Award.”

David Bagshaw Apprenticeship Award: Jake Mac Mahon, Group 47
This award is given to a Trainee who has fully embraced their professional development on the MDS Management and Leadership Level 5 Apprenticeship. The Apprenticeship College Skills Coach, Scott Flinton, explained why he nominated Jake.

“Throughout the programme, Jake has embraced learning and development, submitting assessments that have exceeded expectations, all within the submission deadlines. Most of all, he has applied learning into his secondment roles, demonstrating passion and enthusiasm throughout the apprenticeship journey.”

Rising Star Awards
The Rising Star Awards allow organisations to nominate Trainees recognised as having exceeded expectations during their secondments both through their attitude and achievements

  • Louise Brooks, group 50: Nominated by Ed Hill from Double H Nurseries Ltd
  • Harry Fountain, group 50: Nominated by Karen Wilson from JDM Food Group
  • Emma Howes, group 47: Nominated by Graham Issac from Greencell
  • Elizabeth Richards, group 48: Nominated by Richard Amey from Frank Roberts and Sons
Fresh Produce Awards
The top organisations for attracting new talent

The organisational awards offer a fascinating insight into how businesses are effectively adapting to attract a new generation of workers.

Peter Shepherd Award: Angus Soft Fruits
Nominated by MDS Trainees, this award offers a stamp of approval from Gen Z. This year, the winner was Angus Soft Fruits (ASF). Group 48 Trainee, Libby Richards explained why ASF deserved the award.

“They treat MDS Trainees as valued members of the team and, more importantly, members of the ASF family. Whilst I worked there, I was given an immense amount of responsibility. I spoke to almost everyone within the company – whether that be the Midlands office, Scottish office, Spain, Chile or Morocco. I made friends for life at ASF.”

Special Recognition
The special recognition award celebrates Members and representatives who have gone above and beyond to support MDS through mentoring, excellent feedback and helping Trainees to feel like an essential part of the organisation.

  • Nathan Whitehouse, Certis
  • James Bardgett, Tristram Nurseries
  • Darren Schlosser, Angus Soft Fruits
  • Lucy Stevens, Angus Soft Fruits
  • Tim Johnson, Fenmarc
  • Ju Creech, Syngenta
  • Dawn Wright, Protolan

Fresh Produce Awards

Cobrey Farms Alumni Vacancy: Member Profile

December 13, 2021
MDS ALUMNI: Cobrey Farms are recruiting

Member company Cobrey Farms, the biggest UK producer of Asparagus is looking for an Assistant Farm Manager to join their friendly, family-run business. This vacancy is the perfect opportunity for a motivated team player who wants to develop their knowledge of veg crops in a future-focused and rapidly growing Member company.

We spoke to HR Manager Emma Hicks on what makes a career with Cobrey so great:


What do Cobrey do?

Cobrey Farms is owned and run by the Chinn family in south Herefordshire, where we grow our Wye Valley branded asparagus, fine beans, blueberries. Broccoli and rhubarb, as well as potatoes and combinable crops. We supply the full range of customers from local restaurants through to major processors and retailers.

With a history of investing heavily in the research and development of new crops, varieties, and growing techniques, we continually introduce new ideas into the market to meet consumer demands.

Why is Cobrey such a great place to work?

Cobrey is a family run business with the partners being heavily involved in the day to day running- as a result, all employees have a sense of great commitment and pride in what we are achieving. We have a relatively small and close nit management team, and everyone is always willing to help each other out and ‘get stuck in’. No two days are ever the same, bringing new challenges daily, which is always interesting!

As a forward-thinking and innovative business, we are always encouraged to share our ideas and suggestions to the partners and senior managers who value our input.

The business has many pieces to the jigsaw puzzle with 12 different crop types, making it an excellent place to develop knowledge and experience.

What is the ideal Cobrey team member?

As a relatively small team, you need to be a real team player with good attention to detail. You need to be ambitious, have a can-do attitude, and be prepared to roll up and get your hands dirty where needed!

What are some of the benefits of working at Cobrey?

One of the most significant benefits is working in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK- the Wye Valley. It is stunning, and the surroundings certainly help on busy days! The business is also great at rewarding good performance, and they always support training courses to further development.  We organise various social events throughout the year for both permanent and seasonal staff. There is always a generous supply of free asparagus and other fruit/ vegetables to enjoy throughout the year.

If you’re an MDS Alumni who is interested in joining Cobrey, find out more about the role HERE.

Meet the Trainees: Rising Star Award nominations are now open!

November 29, 2021

As the highly anticipated January Meet the Trainees event fast approaches, so do the MDS Awards! We are pleased to announce that nominations for the Rising Star category are now open.

What is the Rising Star Award?

The Rising Star Award is presented to a Trainee who strives for success and achieves results. Rising Stars are Trainees who haven’t just carried out their secondment role. They have over-achieved and exceeded expectations within their role. They have taken anything managers throw at them with tenacity and resilience and have been able to prove their value to Member companies time and time again. We are looking for nominees who are ambitious future leaders.

Trainees across all groups are eligible for nominations from their secondment managers.

Recognising Talent

This is your opportunity to reward talented Trainees who have made a real impact to your organisation. It’s the chance for secondment managers to highlight how Trainees are useful to their business and the wider industry. The award is also the chance for Members to promote the culture of their business as valuing talent. Support your Trainees by nominating them for an award that is recognised within the industry and will support them in securing future roles and help them in their leadership journey.

Past Winners
India Dodge-Forder, Group 49

India was nominated by Siân Hardy at Fancy Plants UK for putting in 100% effort from the very start of her first secondment. She demonstrated the ability to work under pressure and was able to handle significant changes to the company and supply network. According to Sian, India had a tenacious and professional attitude when dealing with established and new suppliers. India was invested in learning as much as she could in her Fancy Plants secondment and sought out development opportunities even if they were outside the responsibilities of her role.

James Rowe, Group 48

James was nominated by secondment manager James Bardgett at Fleurie Nurseries for demonstrating outstanding potential. On secondment, James operated at a standard that those with many years of experience and seniority would perform at and never waivered. Suppliers and the wider Tristram group noticed his positive attitude and leadership skills.

Isabel Cole, Group 46

It was Chris Guest and Alexander Berger from Aldi who nominated Isabel for the award. According to the managers, she showed exceptional ability when implementing a packhouse project. She engaged with the right stakeholders and kept the company updated on strategy. Issy displayed all of the core competencies required for future strong leaders and was incredibly hungry for personal growth. She was never scared to push for her own development.


Meet the Trainees: Save the Date

November 26, 2021

We are delighted to announce that the next Meet the Trainees event will take place face to face. Join MDS, our high calibre Trainees and Members from across the entire food and fresh produce industry on Monday 17th January 2022. Promote your organisation to the ambitious future leaders of food and fresh produce.

The Venue

This year, the event will be held at the recently refurbished East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham. This state-of-the-art venue is the perfect space for Meet the Trainees, set within the beautifully landscaped parkland of Nottingham University’s Park Campus. Purpose-built and situated adjacent to the Orchard Hotel with excellent transport links and parking facilities, the event has been designed with the ease and comfort of Member organisations and Trainees in mind.

The Event

This highly anticipated industry event will be our first in-person Meet the Trainees in over 2 years and will be the first chance that many of our groups and Members have had to meet one another face to face. As a result of the rising demand for secondments and the ever increasing number of Trainees, we are asking that all Members represent their business at this event. With a lack in networking events over the last 2 years, this is a perfect opportunity to get stuck in and launch your business into 2022 to develop your leadership pipeline.

The Day

The day will be divided into two main sessions.  The first session will start at 10.00am where Members will be invited to join us for a forum delivered by Saffy Waterson, COO. The forum will discuss how we can increase our offering to Members, how we are investing in additional flexi-apprenticeships, where we have identified potential skills gaps and how this could benefit your business.

The second session will start after lunch. This will start with our awards which showcase excellence amongst our Trainees and Membership. After the awards, Members will be invited to promote their organisation via a 1 minute talk on their business, followed by our networking session.

During the networking session each Member will be offered an area around the periphery of the hall where they can use promotional materials, stands and pull up visuals to showcase their business to the future leaders of the food and fresh produce industry. Trainees will be encouraged to visit all the Members showcasing their business, secondments and any permanent roles they might have.

The Perfect Opportunity

With continued press coverage about the challenges in recruiting the right people, Meet the Trainees offers you the chance to promote your organisation as future focused and directly reach out to a pool of talented young professionals who are passionate about pursuing a career in food and fresh produce.

This is also a fantastic opportunity to meet and collaborate with like-minded MDS Member organisations and representatives across the entire industry. If you are Member company who is interested in attending our Meet the Trainees event please complete our sign-up form HERE. 

Spaces are filling up fast!

Meet the Trainees