Past Lectures


The 2021 City Food Lecture Virtual was delivered in February by Mel Smith CBE, CEO of Ocado Retail the world’s largest dedicated online supermarket.

Mel Smith

‘The role of new technology in the future of UK food retailing’.

Formed in August 2019, Ocado Retail is a 50-50 joint venture between M&S and Ocado Group. It is responsible for, online pet store Fetch and Ocado Zoom, a one-hour grocery service. Ocado Retail serves 350,000 households a week, and has a 15% share of the UK online grocery market.

Mel has had an impressive career in the food and retail industry to date. She began her career at McKinsey, where she spent 12 years and became a Partner, gaining extensive experience advising leading grocery retailers on their operations. She left McKinsey in 2009 to join TalkTalk as the Executive Director of Operations and Integrations, and subsequently moved to Bupa to serve as the Global Marketing and Strategy Director. In 2017, Mel joined Marks & Spencer as Strategy Director, before being appointed as the CEO of Ocado Retail in August 2019. She is also on the Board of Directors of SSE plc and is a Trustee of Sadler’s Wells.

The City Food Lecture 2021 Pre Lecture Content

The 2021 City Food Lecture held virtually on the 10th February began with pre lecture footage featuring comment from industry thought leaders including Dr David Hughes, Minette Batters, Ian Wright, Nigel Barden and Prue Leith as well as from our seven food livery Masters and Clerks. Due to coronavirus restrictions, all are recorded from kitchens, offices, living rooms and … fields so do excuse the quality of sound or vision in some.
Paul Stockton, CEO of Rathbones, our Premium Sponsor then introduces the 2021 event.

Link to Video

The City Food Lecture 2021, Panel and HRH The Princess Royal  

Our virtual viewers were welcomed on the 10th February to the City Food Lecture 2021 by Alderman William Russell The Rt.Hon. The Lord Mayor of London. The keynote speaker, Mel Smith, CEO of Ocado Retail then delivered the 2021 City Food Lecture after which she joined the panel discussion between Charlie Bigham, Laura Winningham and James Walton chaired by Charlotte Smith. Then followed a q and a session with the audience. The event concluded with a closing address from HRH The Princess Royal – always the highlight of the City Food Lecture.

Link to Video.


Professor Fresco

Fish nor Flesh or Both? Foods for the future.

Professor Fresco, President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research, Europe’s leading academic agri-food organisation and research and development centre.

See our short Highlights Video

Full Video

For our picture gallery, please click here.


Dominic Blakemore

Chief Executive, Compass Group

Trust & Tech – Future of Food

See our short Highlights Video


Dave Lewis

Chief Executive, Tesco

Supplier Partnerships & The Future of Food


Professor Chris Elliott

Queen’s University Belfast

Does it Matter Where Our Food Comes From?

Due to family circumstances, Professor Chris Elliot was sadly unable to deliver the Lecture. He was ably replaced by Michael Bell, Executive Director of NI Food & Drink Association who delivered it on his behalf.


Christophe Jouan

Chief Executive, The Future Food Foundation

What, when and how will we be eating in 2025?
2015Richard Evans
President, PepsiCo
The responsiblity of the food industry for improving the Nation’s health
2014Charles Wilson
Chief Executive, Booker
Growth outside the supermarkets
2013Paul Bulcke
Chief Executive Officer, Nestle
Water – the linchpin of food security
2012Justin King
Chief Executive Officer, Sainsbury’s
UK Grocery Retailing – back to the future
2011Paul Polman
Director and Chief Executive Officer, Unilever
Food security in a changing climate
2010Sir David King
Director, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford
Managing the earths resources to deliver food for nine billion
2009Sir Terry Leahy
Chief Executive, Tesco
Consumers, competition and a changing world
2008Lord Haskins
Government advisor on food and farming
Are the Malthusian chickens coming home to roost
2007Lord Peter Mechett
Policy Director, Soil Association
Food and values – the organic future
2005John Sunderland
Chairman of Cadbury Schweppes
The role of food in public health
2004Sir Francis Mackay
Chairman of the Compass Group
Changing the menu
2003Sir John Krebs
Chairman of the Food Standards Agency
Protecting consumers in the future world market
2002Niall Fitzgerald
Chariman of Unilever
Facing the future – the UK food industry in a changing world
2001Peter Blackburn
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nestle
The UK food chain – making life better

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