Andy Kemp
The University of West London (UWL) awarded the honorary doctorate to Andy Kemp at Wembley Stadium on July 25th
03/08/2017 - 11:26
Bidfood’s group sales and marketing director, Andy Kemp, recently received an honorary doctorate for services to the hospitality industry. He tells David Foad what motivates him to get involved.

DF: What is your involvement with the University of West London?

AK: They asked me to work with them on a number of issues as they saw me as very actively in the industry and a well known face. They had an outline view of where they want to take the students of tomorrow today, and asked me how to engage with the industry in areas such as food fraud, supply chain integrity, physical purchasing and the route to market for food. I worked with Professor Alexandros Paraskevas and we started to touch on the sort of subjects that should be further researched via PhD students. About two years ago they pulled together a project team to support student recruitment into the industry, and look at issues like sustainability, supply chain, marketing and sales.

DF: Why have you taken so much time outside your immediate job role to get involved in the industry and its issues?

AK: There are many aspects to it, but I’m appreciative of everything I have in life. If you get so much out you must give a lot back. I can see how to make change with simple things, and that has affected me deeply. It might be kids that have come off the track and just need a chance, that hand, that lift off, that conversation to help them. These kids, teenagers often, are trying to carve their way in life and take their chance and I want to give them a hand. Society spends a lot of time criticising, particularly those that don’t sit in the norm, but it’s tough when you sit outside the norm, which is why I get involved. That might be through Springboard, and the great work that Anne Pierce does – that’s an obvious example where they are making a real difference to people’s lives but it is under-funded and I’m very pleased to be involved.

DF: Why is the subject of school meals so dear to your heart?

AK: I got involved back when Jamie Oliver started and he was genuinely trying to do some good. I don't agree with everything about the way he did it. At one point he started using the phrase ‘muck off a truck’ to describe the food school caterers were using, which I thought was appalling. Many operators were trying to produce a good meal with 70p for ingredients in a four-hour window. We’re talking about working mums and they do a fabulous job, and I’ve walked into hundreds of schools and seen a great job being done. I started to talk to Linda Cregan at what was the School Food Trust, and Jeanette Orrey and people like LACA who provide an excellent service. Unfortunately, the industry around them doesn’t always listen to them, it doesn't recognise what’s being done. We looked at the provision of UIFSM and what was happening. It was fabulous. The first and most important thing you can give children is education about good nutrition.

DF: Another issue you have spoken about is good farming practice and sustainability in the food chain.

AK: It's the next big issue. When you look at what’s going to affect the food industry, a major factor will be the cost of food as a result of Brexit. We can only produce 58% of our food so we need to source from somewhere else. Meat and food from the US could expose the British public to pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics and this will have an effect on the health of future generations going forward. The other question is, what does sustainable food and farming look like? The Soil Association has done some brilliant work on this. I recognise that we can start to review this, herald the issue, to lead in the understanding of it.

DF: Obesity and healthy eating are another area you’ve been involved in.

AK: I genuinely believe people want good clean food and to feed it to their children, but they all need a bit of help. I see us moving towards an eating culture that includes reducing the amount of meat we consume, becoming more vegetarian as a matter of choice, adopting a more Mediterranean-style diet and having a growing awareness of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. But this will only happen when it is driven by knowledge, so it’s all about education.

DF: How do you see youngsters of Generation Y shaping the industry as customers and workers?

AK: They are waking up to the sort of opportunities available to them and are much more opinionated too. I gave a lecture at UWL, and it was great to see how many students hung back afterwards, said they wanted to go into catering and asked how to do it. They didn't just want to be the next Jason Atherton, but become managers. At this level young people are well catered for, but below that there is less awareness of the training and opportunities available. Putting stuff into schools works, Chefs Adopt A School by the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and that kind of thing. From a distributors point of view, do people see you as a load of trucks that just move boxes? We need to show them the chances to be creative. The talent we have is incredibly capable of making decisions, and do a damn sight better job than we could ever imagine.

The University of West Kent (UWL) awarded the honorary doctorate to Andy Kemp at Wembley Stadium on July 25th.

Professor Alexandros Paraskevas, chair of hospitality management at UWL said: "We are awarding this in recognition of Andy’s lifetime contribution to the UK and international food industry. As a driving force he has raised awareness of some of the biggest issues facing the industry.

“On top of his professional achievements as trail-blazer and policy influencer, he has done very significant work with many charities in advocating a better future for young and often vulnerable people.

“Andy has been an inspirational guest lecturer in our college and has provided students numerous industry links for placements, research and professional development.”

Copyright 2017 EatOut Magazine
Dewberry Redpoint Limited is a company Registered in England and Wales No : 03129594 Registered Office:
John Carpenter House, John Carpenter Street, London EC4Y 0AN, UK, VAT registered, number 586 7988 48.

Design & Development by Eton Digital