Welcome to F&B Sound Bites - a podcast on hot topics, trends and challenges for professionals in the engine room behind the Food and Beverage industry hosted by Hamish McCook.

The food and beverage industry is under increasing pressure - margins are getting tighter, consumers more savvy and demanding, we're being told to produce more, be more efficient, use less energy, emit less carbon, be more accurate...be smarter. Can you relate?

All this 'stuff' but we still only have 24 hours in a day, a five day working week and 45 or so working weeks in a year to make it happen. But it doesn't have to be hard. Sometimes all you need is that little seed of an idea to bring about change. 

That's why Beca has started F&B Sound Bites. In this podcast we give you direct access to some of the best in the business. Professionals we are fortunate enough to work with in and outside Beca who, together, have years of experience on all range of food and beverage industry challenges (and beyond).

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Listen to the series below

This rounds on us! Sharing key trends from Drinktec 2022

We flew a couple of our engineers to Munich in September 2022 to attend one of the biggest beverage conferences, and no we’re not talking about Oktoberfest (much to their dismay), but just as exciting – Drinktec!

Try to ignore host Hamish McCook’s hint of envy as he chats to Australia’s Mark Robertson, Senior Associate in Mechanical Engineering and NZ’s Andrew Russell, Senior Associate in Project Management to unpack some of the key themes, trends and takeaways, covering packaging solutions, energy reduction, technology integration and of course, sustainability.

Navigating through price volatility with success

The last few years have been difficult, to say the least, and it’s clear we’re not out of the woods yet. Inflation has skyrocketed in the wake of COVID and the war in Ukraine is adding extra pressure on the global economy, slowing the recovery of already disrupted supply chains. 

Price spikes, supply shortages, and delivery delays are wreaking havoc on businesses, and everyone is struggling to control cost overruns. But fear not, as there are solutions that can help rein in the budget in this volatile pricing environment. Our Australian host, Mark Robertson, Senior Associate – Mechanical Engineering chats with Beca’s Anthony Maurici - Senior Associate Project Management and Andrew Hofmeyr – Technical Director Cost Management weigh in on reducing project uncertainty and how through collaboration, communication and transparency, we can manage the challenges ahead and navigate the storm in one piece.

Switching the light to Green

In a utopian world, Food and Beverage manufacturers wouldn’t have to forgo the long, confusing, and costly transition to cleaner energy sources to power their manufacturing plants. The ‘dirty’ grid would be miraculously funded by the government, transitioning it to green energy, flicking the magic switch to green. 

But like all great dreams, we are (against our own will) jolted back to reality. 

With economic, social, political pressures, and the absence of a credible national climate and energy policy, the Food and Beverage sector has taken leadership in going greener sooner, setting ambitious but achievable net-zero emission targets as early as 2030 (terrifyingly, less than 10 years away). Setting clear corporate goals that can be translated into project development goals is a foolproof method, but it can be a daunting task for many.

A combination of expertise needs to come together to provide solutions.  

Turning dreams into reality, Beca Australia’s Harshal Patel – future energy guru and market leader in the power team; and Mark Robertson – Market segment leader in the Food and Life Sciences sector, join our Host, Hamish McCook to offer their expert advice on quick wins, alternative approaches, and next steps for F&B listeners forgoing the transition to renewable energy for years to follow.

Is CellAg the food equivalent of the smart phone?

Many sceptics thought Steve Jobs was a mad when he introduced Apple iPhone back in 2007. Yet today the smart phone is owned by an estimate of 1 billion of the population, fits in the palm of your hand and is smarter than we ever thought possible.

So, after many years of research and innovation, Cellular Agriculture meat products may not be as farfetched as we think.  We’ve already solved the problems of CellAg using science, engineering, and production, but it’s the power of incorporating the technologies, skills and systems together to catapult it from an expensive lab creation to mass production, stocked on supermarket shelves around the world.

In this episode of F&B Sound Bites, we revisit the topic of CellAg with two expert engineers from NZ and the US, teaming up to offer their perspective on the barriers, opportunities and future for CellAg.  Find out just how close CellAg is to becoming an alternative, more sustainable, food source and what you need to be doing today to get ready.

Finding perfect in hygienic design

Innovation in the food sector is hot right now. Consumers are demanding increased transparency such as clean label ingredients and ethical and responsible sourcing, plant-based foods in growing market categories, food available on demand with omni channel consumption, product mash ups and new flavours, as well as science-based foods offering enhanced nutrition. The list goes on.

But what does all this mean for hygienic design – arguably the backbone of the industry, and one that too has been evolving and growing more complex over time. The industry is under increasing pressure to be compliant with increasingly complex legislation, and now not just on our own shores but also internationally. Plus, how much do we really know about the challenges and needs of new foods under development? 

Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom. There is has been a rise of globally led legislation, and science-based tools like genomic sequencing are having their time in the sun in the food industry, allowing for more targeted strategies for risk mitigation and response.

We sat down with Beca’s Rex Johnstone to unpack the challenges of hygienic design today and what it takes to protect the future of your business.

Reporting on climate change-related financial risks could compel action quickly

The discourse on climate change continues to evolve, with reporting of climate-related risks and opportunities becoming mainstream. Businesses are under increasing pressure to not only find more sustainable ways to operate their business as part of their social licence, but also to report to investors and customers on how well (or poorly) they are dealing with climate change. And quite literally, their future financial viability depends on it, with climate-related risks affecting insurance, lending, and more. If organisations can’t account for their risks related to climate change, is their future business viability in question?

In this episode of F&B Sound Bites, we speak with Matt Raeburn, a leading climate change strategist with 14 years’ experience in the US, New Zealand, and Australia. Matt talks about the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the future of mandated climate change reporting, and why businesses from every industry should be assessing and managing their risks from climate change now.

There will be winners and losers in the shift to a resilient low emissions economy, so seize your opportunity to choose how you adapt and transition to that future now.

Lab grown meat - A not-too-distant reality

Tom and Jerry buy 20 chicken nuggets. They look like chicken nuggets, taste like chicken nuggets, but what if we told you that those chicken nuggets were made without ever laying a hand on an actual chicken?

In this episode our host Hamish McCook turns guest as he’s interviewed by Beca Business Advisor, Kim Featherstone. They look to the future at the very real world of lab grown meats – cellular agriculture. They discuss what it means for the meat industry, and why should we be taking notice of alternative sources of meat.


The spirit world has taken off! Aussie distillers quenching the thirst of consumer trends 

Gin and whisky distillers are trending right now #ginforthewin, and there is no sign of the market slowing down! Australian distillers are taking the world by storm as we break away from the shackles of tradition many distillers in the UK and EU face.  

But with the flock of new and more experienced distillers to the market, more plants are dealing with safety risk presented by these highly consumable, but highly flammable liquids. It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt!

That’s why our resident host Hamish McCook chats with Beca distilling expert James Ludford-Brooks, and cross-regional hazardous expert Tom Brennan to discuss all things #trending. From the growth in the Aussie market, offsetting emissions, and key takeaways for smaller start-ups and those looking to enhance their plant safety, this episode is one not to be miss! So settle in, grab a G&T and tune into 10 minutes of great listening.  

Out with the old, in with the new - is the meat processing industry ready to meet the challenge? 

Beef is one Australia’s biggest exporters and in 2018-19 it generated A$10.8billion in Australian exports. Whilst the return in price is high, so too are the high processing costs, supply chain costs, demand for alternative proteins and  pressure from government to meet a carbon neutral future.

Not all capital projects are created equal

How can large, complex, multi-site organisations manage project delivery successfully while managing costs, risks and ensuring a project goes to plan? In this episode of F&B Sound Bites we chat with Mike Duell, former mathematician turned engineer and inventor of capital portfolio management software, CAPEXinsights. He talks with Hamish about the common capital portfolio management pitfalls from around the globe, the role of sustainability in capital portfolio management and the smart tools available to help build consistency and confidence.


Is this the secret recipe to implement Industry 4.0 digital solutions?

Over the last three years industry uptake of technology has widened, and so has the gap between the leaders and the laggers. We speak with Stewart Coleman and Sue Bradley, expert leaders from Beca’s digital and industrial solutions, to uncover the steps organisations need to implement to increase their uptake of industry 4.0 digital solutions.  Hamish uncovers some gold advice in this interview, so make sure to grab a pen and paper.   


How can ASEAN's F&B industry remain resilient in a time of uncertainty?

2020 has been a year of disruption and challenge. However, the lessons learnt from this crisis should help to build the resilience of the ASEAN food and beverage industry and its supply chains moving forward. With effective stakeholder collaboration, the food system may well emerge stronger once these challenges subside. In this episode of F&B Sound Bites, Hamish McCook and Harry Gibson have a far reaching conversation about some of the insights from the recent ASEAN Forum.


How are digital technologies driving performance in the F&B industry?

What can the Kmart Mums hack group teach us about maximising digital technologies and driving performance in the food and beverage industry? Hamish McCook and Stewart Coleman stroll through the aisles discussing what really matters when it comes to finding the right technology solution to solve your biggest challenges. Grab a trolley and join them for a fascinating (and entertaining) episode of F&B Sound Bites.


What does AI bring to the F&B table?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the way many industries operate, and food and beverage manufacturing is no exception. We speak with Matt Ensor and Sue Bradley to learn more about how these technologies offer huge opportunities to transform critical aspects of industrial processes, deliver enhanced customer experiences and help stay ahead of the competition.


What's the case for sustainability labelling in the F&B industry?

As consumers increasingly demand healthier foods produced in more sustainable ways, it is clear the food and beverage industry has a huge part to play in designing better processes across the entire food system. We speak with Kate Meyer, Business Director - Sustainability to find out why restricting carbon emissions produced by the food system is critical to limiting climate change and how adding sustainability labels to food products might help the average consumer make better informed purchasing decisions.


Is indoor farming possible at a commercial scale?

In this second instalment of this two-part episode, we continue our conversation with Joelle Chen and Bruce Neville about how to organisations can scale up indoor farming ventures in Singapore to reach the Government’s target of 30% food self-sufficiency in Singapore by 2030. We also talk about what countries around the world can learn from Singapore and what indoor farming means for greater food self-sufficiency around the world. Enjoy the conversation.


Is indoor farming the answer to food sovereignty?

In this first instalment of this two-part episode, we explore the concept of food sovereignty and our right to choose where our food comes from and how it is grown. We chat with Joelle Chen and Bruce Neville about what is behind Singapore’s drive for food self-sufficiency through prudent innovation and experimentation. But what do we need to do to go from small scale experimentation to large scale production? Stay tuned for part two to find out.


How do you know if your design manager is letting you down?

Design management is a little known, but crucially important role that provides the structure that enables a project to be successfully designed and delivered and the crucial role it plays in achieving cost and design expectations. We speak with Michael Kinna, specialist in design management and leader of our Design Management Working Group, about just what makes a good design manager a rare and precious gift.


The virtual virus - what can you do to protect your business?

We haven't just been fighting a virus in the real world, but also in the virtual world. The recent cyber attacks have made many a little nervous about how safe their digital data really is. We speak with Jonathan Stirling, our Security Consulting team lead, on this topic. He'll ease your concerns with some of his 13 practical tips to help keep your data safe.


Is Your Supply Chain Working For You?

As the world shutdown in response to the pandemic - the food and beverage supply chain wasn't immune to its impact. Despite being deemed an essential service, the demand planning cycle wasn't reliable anymore. We speak with Alistair Lane, international food and beverage supply chain specialist and Director of Value Chain Connected Ltd about improving supply chain resilience.


Are You Taking Your Cold Storage Seriously?

For many businesses, cold storage is the invisible but beating heart of your operation. But despite this, it doesn't always get the attention it deserves. We speak with cold storage expert, Rhys Davies, to better understand this white box and learn what you can do to improve it to meet growing demand and reduce rising costs.


Who Is Hamish McCook Anyway?

Meet your podcast host, Hamish McCook, and find out why this will be one of the best ways to spend 10 minutes of your time learning as we cover hot topics, trends and challenges for those working behind the scenes to support human survival in the twenty first century.


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Reporting on climate change-related financial risks could compel action quickly

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Hamish McCook

Segment Manager - Food and Beverage

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Rhys Davies

Business Director - Industrial

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Sue Bradley

Principal - Industrial Advisory

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Email Sue Bradley