“Delivering Progress through Innovation and Efficiency” 
The Appliance of Science!

Amidst the ongoing confusion that is Brexit, the UK poultry industry continues to concentrate on efficient production to exacting standards. This is necessary to support competition in future global trade and to continue to offer UK consumers safe and affordable food.

In looking to improve competiveness, at the same time as maintaining standards, means that our industry must embrace all aspects of innovation and efficiency, applying science where it is necessary. At the same time it is clear that our industry depends on people with effective communication and stockmanship skills.

With these challenges in mind, the EPIC committee brought together a spectrum of high quality speakers for 2019 to explore these concepts and to stimulate debate and exchange of ideas, despite the loss of any Government speakers due to the recently announced General Election.

Conference kicked off with a keynote presentation from Dr David Llewellyn, Vice Chancellor of Harper Adams University who skilfully took us through the emerging technologies and people skills needed to take our industry forward to compete on the global stage. He stressed the need for a pipeline of higher level skilled individuals to fuel this progress.

Other speakers then illustrated the progress being made and some of the further challenges in the meat and egg industries, through production practices and nutrition where innovation is key. Presentations were a balance between incorporating new technology with already established tried and tested methods and skills. The importance of the concept of “putting food on the table” for all society was also stressed. An insightful presentation on consumer trends also truly gave us food for thought.

The afternoon started with the now well established “Young Guns” session. Three young enthusiastic professionals gave delegates confidence that the industry should be in safe hands, with presentations from the meat, egg and poultry welfare and research perspectives. EPIC committee has acknowledged the importance of encouraging new entrants with refreshing thinking and perspective into our industry.

I was really proud of our newest initiative which, with generous support of all our sponsors, enabled us to invite seven successful applicants to attend EPIC for the first time fully funded. The feedback from them has demonstrated the importance of this concept which will be carried forward to our 2020 conference and hopefully contribute to a stream of new ideas for our industry. A massive tank you to our sponsors for enabling this to happen.

Conference was also encouraged to think outside the box of our immediate industry with presentations from the Chairman of the Defra Animal Health and Welfare Board, and David Buik a well known financial commentator who steered us through the tortuous journey towards Brexit. The last formal presentation was from William Sitwell, a food writer and commentator. He gave us the view from the consumer side of the fence, whilst also demonstrating that we have a mountain to climb in getting our story out there to combat our own version of “fake news”!

A large number of high quality presentations requires a high quality chairman and I am indebted to Gary Ford, Chief Poultry Adviser at the NFU, who steered the whole days proceedings with skill and efficiency!

You can view photos galleries from the 2019 event here.

Whilst the formal presentations on a theme are the backbone of conference, of equal importance are the networking opportunities the annual EPIC conference affords. This year was no exception with the chance to meet and discuss issues with colleagues, old and new. To help this, conference also provides a social atmosphere to facilitate these exchanges with two excellently supported high quality dinners.

The high point for most was an awe inspiring story told by our guest speaker at the closing conference banquet, delivered by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He offered an amusing yet thought provoking speech illustrated with the high points of his multiple expeditions, challenges and fund raising which rightly affords him the acclamation of the “worlds greatest living explorer”.

His demonstration of a “can do” attitude to everything he puts his mind to captivated the audience and hopefully motivated delegates to try and emulate at least some of these traits in their approach to meeting the challenges for the poultry industry well into the 21st Century.

We look forward to welcoming you to our 2020 conference where we hope that we can all demonstrate a 2020 vision our own “can do” approach to meeting some of those challenges.

Steve Lister
Chairman, EPIC Conference