Ben Wilkinson looks after the day-to-day running of our technical department and leads our HACCP and food defence teams. He provides primary technical support externally to our clients.
The 34-year-old’s role covers everything from basic ingredient approval to problem solving for customers who might be searching for an ingredient for a new project or trying to reduce costs. He also assists those looking to move to a ‘cleaner label’ by replacing additives with juice ingredients for example.
Ben, who joined us in 2008, says: “I spend a lot of time helping customers, understanding their processes and requirements, and assisting them in using our products to produce safe foods that meet the requirements of the various retailers and brands.
“One of the more time-consuming parts of the role is providing the documentation to support the approval of new ingredients, as the UK market is exceptionally demanding and managing the data to support this is a very substantial undertaking.
“My remit also includes regulatory affairs, so I maintain working knowledge of EU/UK food law and industry codes of practice. It’s generally quite varied – I like learning new things, and Cobell’s diverse range of products, customers and people mean that I’m still here encountering new questions and challenges after nine and a half years!”
Before joining us, Ben worked for an audio equipment company. He also read for a four year combined bachelor’s/master’s degree in Physics, and after graduating ran a small shop for a year. He then spent some time doing postgraduate research, again in Physics.
“During my time here at Cobell, I’ve completed various courses and qualifications on food microbiology, HACCP, food hygiene, auditing, labelling, food defence and more. Nonetheless a huge proportion of my knowledge has been acquired from within the business and much of the credit for that goes to Andrew Clark, our Technical & Operations Director, who set up the technical department and has been a fantastic mentor.”
In his spare time, Ben’s great passions are science and music.
He says: “As work provides a reasonable dose of the former, I spend much of my free time on the latter. I enjoy writing music of varying sorts and also spend a lot of time listening to music and particularly adore classical – Beethoven would make up around 75% of my ‘Desert Island Discs’ choices.
“On the rare occasions that I have time for more involved projects, I like tinkering with electronics and have made synthesizers for myself and guitar pedals for friends.
“Those somewhat geeky proclivities notwithstanding, I like to keep active and spend a lot of time out walking with Fly, my beloved Husky/Collie cross, and I’m also a keen mountain biker. If I’ve still got any time left after that I try to keep up with current affairs and enjoy reading.”