Gerry Dunn - The Natural Fruit and Beverage Company

Gerry Dunn is Director at The Natural Fruit and Beverage Company - the UK’s leading packer of food products into resealable pouches. The business offers solutions for food companies, nutritional products and concepts that require resealable packaging, and works predominantly with two main sectors - baby food and clinical nutrition.

The Natural Fruit and Beverage Company, work with a range of partners from SMEs to some of the biggest companies in the world and offer a variety of services including product development, ingredient sourcing, process advice and pack design.

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THE OPPORTUNITY:

Gerry and his team first heard about the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme through Scottish Enterprise. They had been set to progress an alternative intern programme, but the global pandemic meant the scheme was withdrawn due to restraints on people and public funding. With opportunities still being offered via Entrepreneurial Scotland, the Natural Fruit & Beverage Company embarked on the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme, taking on a scholar for 10 weeks to support a crucial growth project.

With a specific project need to progress their international strategy and conduct valuable research, an Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Scholar Internship was a valuable solution for Gerry and his team. Gerry explains; “Of course the global pandemic had an impact on our team’s time, but we wanted to ensure that it didn’t halt all of our growth strategies. The Saltire Scholar Internship Programme was a good way for us to gain support in continuing to drive our international strategy with important research.

“The process was very smooth. We were sent four potential candidates that had been shortlisted by the team at Entrepreneurial Scotland. They were all of exceptionally high quality. While they all impressed us, we selected one of the candidates who had a strong interest in business and had in fact already started a business of his own. Although he was going to be a qualified chemical engineer, he was already thinking getting into business would be of interest to him which impressed us.”

The business environment is challenging for everyone right now. We had been working closely with Scottish Enterprise on our international growth strategy, and our Scottish Enterprise contact knew how valuable these placements were to the students and how great they were for the companies that they got involved with, so felt we benefit

THE OUTCOME:

Despite challenges due to the global pandemic, lockdowns and limits, supporting the programme proved a success for Gerry and it allowed the business to continue to focus on growth, while still dealing with immediate impacts and business requirements that the pandemic created.

He explains; “We had a particular international project, which was to try and identify potential customers in North America and the Far East – particularly in the baby food sector as we feel this is a particular growth area for us. The research had been pushed down the priority list a little and we hadn’t been able to dedicate the time to research that we needed, as we were having to deal with immediate challenges. We wanted to ensure we kept the business moving forward, so the Saltire Scholar Internship programme was a great way for us to keep things moving while the rest of the team were pulled in different directions.

The Saltire Scholar was able to add significant value to the Natural Food and Beverage Company business, identifying key customer contacts that Gerry is hopeful will convert into new business for the company. He explains; “It’s difficult to quantify research in our business, as often it can take time for contacts to become customers, but our Saltire Scholar helped us move things forward significantly and certainly if we can progress substantive discussions, then that in itself would justify the whole project. I would certainly recommend the programme to others, as the quality of candidates is strong – something you can see the team at Entrepreneurial Scotland are very focussed on.”


Our scholar got a good grasp of what we did and what we needed, even though it was all new, and helped us identify some potential future customers. It was an entirely new field for them, but it gave us a fresh perspective, and I hope they gained insight and learning into a completely new area. He was really flexible and willing to learn which really helped us. Had we not had his support, the work would have been put on hold.

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If you would like to talk to Entrepreneurial Scotland about hosting a Saltire Scholar, and how this can benefit your business, please email: gillian.mcgill@entrepreneurialscotland.com