Moy Park’s Anwick factory boss proud of his ‘food heroes’

With July 19 set for lifting of remaining coronavirus restrictions a Sleaford area food factory boss has given an insight into how he has been feeding the nation throughout the pandemic.

Jonathan Oldfield - Head of Complex at Moy Park, Anwick. Photo: Chris Vaughan Photography for Morrow Communications1 EMN-210407-135255001
Jonathan Oldfield - Head of Complex at Moy Park, Anwick. Photo: Chris Vaughan Photography for Morrow Communications1 EMN-210407-135255001

Jonathan Oldfield is Moy Park’s head of complex at its processing plant in Anwick, responsible for overseeing poultry production from egg to finished product.

Moy Park is one of the largest food business employers in Lincolnshire, supporting 3,000 jobs across its primary processing facility in Anwick, its hatchery in Newark, a network of 60 managed farms, and another food facility in Grantham. The company employs 10,000 people across the UK, France and the Netherlands.

Primarily based at Anwick, Jonathan also spends time at the hatchery in Newark and out on the farms, as well as visiting head office and sister complexes across the UK.

He said: “We process some two million birds per week. Anwick is one of four such complexes Moy Park operates across the UK.

“Key to my role is aligning the whole supply chain to manage animal welfare, the safety of the 2,200 team members I am responsible for, and to produce great quality nutritious food for our customers.

Jonathan continued: “Adapting to the pandemic has been a once in a generation challenge for all manufacturers, and within the food industry in particular we had to act rapidly to ensure our key workers could continue to feed the nation in a safe environment. As a food business we already have stringent health and safety processes, and we acted swiftly to bolster these by introducing a swathe of social distancing measures – transforming our factories in the process.

“We are constantly reviewing our protocols, implementing Government guidance and feeding into industry-wide guidelines and best practice.”

Communication within within the business has also changed, he added. “Many meetings and conversations with other sites and stakeholders are now virtual.”

He explained: “When you are farming, hatching chicks and supplying food to millions of consumers every week, you are truly operational 24 hours a day. Even at the production plant, we only normally close on Christmas Day. It is a continuous process – from the laying of the egg to incubation to the hatching of the chick. It needs to move constantly, and there is no opportunity to stop unless it is a very carefully planned activity – even the processing factory is a continuous process. To take even just a single day out of production takes many weeks of planning. The non-stop nature of the work we do is challenging – but it is also rewarding.”

Starting out as an office junior in a small private poultry business, he worked up to sales roles, moved into marketing and sales within the sandwich industry, and latterly operations management. He has been at Moy Park for three years.

On what attracts him to the role he says: “While we may crave predictability, the reality is that in a large and complex business such as ours it is impossible to plan or predict every eventuality. I find the best way to manage this is to balance my week around the planned events – time spent talking to colleagues, suppliers, customers, and then leaving time to deal with the unplanned events and opportunities that arise.

“It is very difficult to get bored when you are working within such an intricate supply chain, and it is the variety of the challenges that really motivates me. Every day I get the opportunity to work alongside experts at our site and right across the business. Seeing these team members come together and deliver solutions on a daily basis is really satisfying.”

He is proud that his team ultimately feeds millions of people, viewing them as ‘Food Heroes’.

For someone wanting to work in the food industry, Jonathan says there are a huge number of opportunities for a successful, stimulating and rewarding career. There are so many specialisms to pursue – from agriculture to operations, sales, marketing, research and development.

He commented: “The industry is fast-paced, growing and dynamic, and anyone who grasps the opportunity can be a success. I advise an Academy in Lincolnshire, to provide support on their careers programme, and to introduce students to these opportunities. We live in an area with a rich agricultural heritage, and I want our young people to be aware of the opportunities they have to build a successful and rewarding career locally.”