This year’s program focused on the industrial side of the nut and dried fruit sector

This year’s INC Academia On-site Course was held in the United Kingdom from May 18-20. From a strategic home base in Stratford, East London, students were treated to multiple visits to industrial facilities for a behind-the-scenes look at how the nut and dried fruit sector operates in this key market.

The three-day program kicked off with a visit to the London-based industrial facilities of Bühler, where participants toured a state-of-the-art assembly line and learned first-hand about optical sorting technologies. After a tasty lunch in the Bühler canteen alongside our knowledgeable hosts, the INC Academia proceeded to its next site visit: Chelmer Foods in Chatteris, north of Cambridge. At this family-owned business, which sources dried fruit, nuts, seeds and pulses from over 25 countries around the world, company representatives facilitated a lively discussion and led participants on a tour of the warehouse grounds. Back in Stratford, the first day ended with a welcome cocktail and dinner on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency, complete with panoramic city views.

The following day, the INC Academia set off for the Port of Felixstowe, the UK’s largest and busiest container port, which every year receives around 2,000 ships and handles more than 4 million twenty-foot equivalents (TEUs). Our highly experienced hosts provided an overview of the port’s operations and led INC Academia participants on an enlightening tour that culminated in a visit to the Port Health facility. After a quick lunch at the picturesque Suffolk Food Hall, the INC Academia proceeded to its next stop: LDH (La Doria). Strategically located in Ipswich, this high-tech distribution center is ideally situated to receive goods arriving from the Port of Felixstowe. Students suited up in fluorescent vests and safety boots for a private tour that drew back the curtain on how nuts and dried fruits are distributed in the UK.

On the third and final day, participants donned their walking shoes and hit the streets with David McCormick, head of Besana UK. Under David’s watchful eye, participants toured two of the UK’s top supermarket chains, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, where they discovered the secrets of how nuts and dried fruits are packaged, positioned and sold to British consumers. After a buffet lunch at the Hyatt, the INC Academia ended on a high note with a hands-on negotiation workshop led by Prof. Kandarp Mehta of IESE Business School. Through an engaging lecture and hands-on group exercises, Prof. Mehta demystified concepts such as the zone of possible agreement and the best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

As a coda to this year’s INC Academia On-site Course, participants who stayed on in London for the INC Congress the following week were invited to attend an exclusive networking session for Academia alumni featuring a stimulating debate session led by Lalo Medina. [See photos]

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