Food from Britain
Food from Britain(FFB) has been the vehicle for funding the ‘regional food’ movement since the Curry Commission. It is has a publicly funded consultancy. Described as a “quasi-governmental agency”, essentially it is an export agency, whose clients have included:
- Ashbury Confectionery,Britain’s third largest confectionery,
- Britvic Fruitshoot, and
- Dormen Snack Foods.
How, critics argue, can an organisation designed to export reconnect British farmers with British consumers?
On their web-site, under the regional foods head-line, the second link after ‘Events’ is ‘Guide to Exporting’, which states: ‘The Guide to Exporting for Regional Food & Drink Producers has been prepared by FFB as part of the Defra funded campaign to promote the UK’s regional food & drink industry’. 
In 2002 the remuneration of Gordon Summerfield, the FFB Chairman was £47,423 per annum, for a two-day week. Summerfield is also a Director of Arla Foods, the UK’s leading dairy company. Arla UK is the sole British distributor of both Arla’s Lurpak brand and Anchor, which sells 61 million packs of New Zealand butter each year, which will directly compete with British butter manufacturers.
In a devastating critique of its operations, the Soil Association argued in 2003 that FFB had ‘failed’ to understand the objectives and nature of the local food sector, and was ‘actually undermining existing initiatives’ and ‘seriously failing’ it. FFB did ‘not seem to have an understanding of food quality’, and was acting as a ‘free marketing service for large food businesses’.
There was also a criticism that goes to the heart of the local food debate: FFB ‘seems to confuse the development of local food economies with the promotion of regional speciality food. Food links organisations are really trying hard on a micro-business scale – generating new business, start-up new food procurement operations, linking up to new initiatives such as Community supported agriculture; assisting low input and organic farming. The Food from Britain side is taking successful businesses on a regional or national scale. It gets away from food miles. It is about making existing business bigger. It misses the point’.
Others agree: ‘Perhaps the Curry report’s most fundamental flaw was the misinterpretation of the term “sustainability,”’ argues James Pavitt, the ex-coordinator of the National Association of Farmers’ Markets (NAFM). ‘Food from Britain are not about sustainability in the broader sense. FFB are about economic sustainability, certainly not social and definitely not environmental. For example, if you look at FFB’s objective for “regionality food marketing” there are no environmental or social benefits at all. You only get environmental and social benefits with truly local food, in my experience the more local the better’.
However Defra gave FFB an extra £3 million over three years to promote regional food, not local food-links initiatives. The person in charge of FFB’s regional food strategy is Jane Wakeling, who worked as a trader for J Sainsbury Plc for 18 years before joining FFB. Wakeling maintains though that it is doing a good job and in its first year generated over £2.2 million in sales.
But the regional food groups have received a paltry £90,000 each and only £207,000 on Consumer Awareness. This is a tiny amount compared to the sums routinely spent by industry on brand promotion. For example, Danone spent £2 million promoting Activia yoghurt during its 2005 advertising campaign, and GlaxoSmithKline spent £3 million on its drink Lucozade Energy in an Autmn 2004 ad campaign. Even Green and Black's, the organic chocolate company, spent £1 million on advertising before Christmas in 2004. 
FFB was also forced to defend its ‘modest’ financial contribution to British Food Fortnight, the nation’s biggest food promotion event in the autumn of 2004, which was ‘under threat’ due to lack of funding. Its co-ordinator Alexia Robinson warned that ‘British Food Fortnight is so under-funded it’s a joke.’  The 2005 British Food Fortnight was instead primarily sponsored by Nationwide, the Department of Health and the supermarket chains Booths and Budgens 
- Lady Sylvia Jay - Director General of the British Food and Drink Federation. Previously held several positions as a senior British civil servant, in the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) and in secondment to the French Ministry of International Cooperation, the French Treasury and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
- David Dobbin CBE - Group Chief Executive of United Dairy Farmers, the largest dairy business in Northern Ireland.with a group turnover of approximately £300 million and employing about 1,000 people. He is Chairman of CBI Northern Ireland He is a council member of the Northern Ireland Economic Forum He is a board member of the NI Dairy Council, Dairy UK and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association.
- Marie Francis OBE - Run an arable farm growing cereals and sugar beet, and is currently a consultant on agricultural and rural issues. Board member of the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA). She was awarded the OBE in 2004 for services to agriculture and the rural economy.
- Tim Bennett - President of the NFU. Member of the Agricultural Land Tribunal, a governor of the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research.
- Alan Hardie
- Ian Martin Appointed 1st December 2006
- Julian Wild
- Christine Dunn
- David Baines
- John Bevington
- Vincent Craig
- David Croisdale-Appleby
- Chief Executive David McNair
- Marketing & International Management Director Simon Waring
- Business & UK Services Director Charlotte Lawson
- Finance & Administration Director Anne Kynaston
FFB International Officers
Marketing & International Management Director Simon Waring Belgium Philip Horemans France Dominique Mine Germany, Switzerland, Austria Patricia Czerniak Italy Sauro Musiani The Netherlands Pim Haasdijk Nordic Jakob True North America David Wilson Portugal Luis Garcia Spain Guillermo Alvarez de Lorenzana
Address: Food from Britain, 4th Floor, Manning House,22 Carlisle Place, London, SW1 1JA UK
Tel: +44(0) 20 7233 5111
- ^The Grocer(2004)“Green and Blacks”,2 Oct; The Grocer (2004) “Campaign Trail”, 23 Oct, p71.
- ^M.Stones (2004) “Promoting British Produce”, Farmers Weekly, 13-19 August, p13; M. Stones (2004) “BFF Future is Under Threat”, Farmers Weekly, 15-21 October, p15.