Readers of Italian Vogue are about to get the lowdown on life at one of the UK’s leading food producers during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Photographs by Zuzana Valla, an improvement technologist at Premier Foods, will appear in next month’s issue of the influential style magazine after she spent three weeks documenting scenes of daily life at the company’s manufacturing plant in Ashford, Kent.
An award-winning photographer in her spare time, Zuzana has been with Premier Foods for the last 12 years. For her latest project she was inspired by the efforts of her colleagues to keep team spirit high while maintaining high manufacturing standards during the lockdown.
“One of my colleagues suggested that I capture these unusual times in photos and the response from the team has been fantastic,” Zuzana said.
“I wanted involve all shifts, so came in on different days and at different times. I sometimes had to wait for people to be free from production to take the portrait pictures, and also came in during the night shift. Hopefully the photographs will help to bring positive vibes to the company, while acting as a reminder to everyone that we are playing an important role at a very difficult time.”
Originally from Slovakia, Zuzana has previously exhibited her work in Paris and Iran. Her photographs are also currently being considered for inclusion later this year by The National Portrait Gallery.
“Like many of my colleagues I’ve been working onsite throughout the pandemic,” she said. “As a food manufacturer, we were identified by Government as a key industry, so the business put a number of additional measures in place to keep us all safe, incorporating things like social distancing wherever possible, managing the flow of people around site and Perspex screens on the lines where possible.
“We are used to following stringent hygiene guidelines already, so we were able to adapt to the new working practices well and this enabled us to stay fully operational.
“I am very proud to have been part of a great team that has helped to keep the nation fed throughout the pandemic. The popularity of our flour and baking products shows that the country has really enjoyed getting back to baking too, which has been brilliant to see.”
Simon Ellmore, factory general manager for Premier Foods, said: "Zuzana's project really demonstrates how well our colleagues at Ashford are pulling together, as well as showing the pride we have in being part of a team that's helping to feed the nation.”
The full portfolio of images can be seen on Zuzana's website.