Buyer’s Diary

== monday ==

 

We are putting the final touches to our MSYS National Independents’ Week activity which begins on June 1.

 

With the ever increasing range of support activities we can see this becoming National Independents’ Fortnight! As ever, we are dependent on willing retailers to embrace the concept of neighbourhood retailing and engage with the local community.

It’s a shame journalists continue to damage the bottled water market with their negative comments, particularly since many waters are reputed to contain minerals good for health. Depot sales of still and sparkling water are well down this year, affecting our overall soft drinks performance and we are going to need a good hot summer to make up lost ground.

Runners participating in this year’s Flora London Marathon benefited from Vittel’s generous gift of free water throughout the gruelling 26-mile run, which was bathed in bright sunshine for its duration. Apparently, over 750,000 bottles of Vittel were handed out – equivalent to 21 bottles per runner. No wonder the queues for the loos were so long.

Champagne sales have taken a knock. I’m not sure whether consumers are trading down or simply giving up on the bubbles, but there are some excellent Cava’s and New World sparklers out there at a third of the price or less, and the champagne houses of Epernay and Reims need to be mindful of this.

 

== tuesday ==

 

When is a wine not a wine? The media is describing the new Lambrini Rosé as a wine when it’s made from something that grows on a tree.

 

A new pomegranate wine will also confuse consumers. Does anyone remember the problems Gallo had with their Boone’s Farm apple wine many years ago?

There will be a lot of consumer interest in Cadbury’s New Clusters if the empty pouch found on my desk is anything to go by. Cadbury’s has a winner here.

In my book, few regular gum chewers could possibly be described as ‘stylish social consumers’ so the establishment of a premium gum sector sounds more like an April fools stunt than a Wrigley’s reality. How is anyone going to know you’ve got the ‘superior’ 5 gum in your mouth? Do you wave the packet around or ‘walk and chew’ in a stylish manner? Thanks, however, are due to the market leader for deleting lines to make way for new variants.

As a personality, Loyd Grossman has never appealed to me, but his branded sauces do. Turning over the page in today’s Times newspaper there is a half-page ad showing a tasty looking plateful of spaghetti bolognese with ripe tomatoes and parmesan cheese, with a backdrop of what looks like St Mark’s Square in Venice.

Good advertising. It gave me an appetite for something Italian for supper.

 

== wednesday ==

 

Tesco’s profit figures, ‘in tough trading conditions’, are clear indicators of what happens when a single business is allowed to dominate the market place.

 

Analysts have suggested Tesco might now adopt a gentler approach towards suppliers this year as good companies go bust in the face of severe recession. Oh, and pigs may fly.

As I write, the number of swine flu cases in Britain and around the world is increasing. A long way from a crisis, but government is describing the situation as serious and health warnings have already appeared in the national press.

We too should be taking time out to think about the implications to our business should it reach pandemic proportions. Government has been planning for such a scenario for several years and recently carried out a major exercise involving food wholesalers and retailers, so hopefully we are prepared for any eventuality.

The Mars ‘Bounce into a summer of British sport’ is supported by celebrity sportsmen Healy, Gough, Barnes and Cash.No women?

Having seen her running the Flora marathon, I’d have thought Katie Price would make an excellent addition to these high profile bouncers! (Jordan to you non-tabloid readers).

 

== thursday ==

 

WKD’s move into cider with Core is just wicked.

 

This big spending brand is a must stock in independents but the £1.79 price point might slow Core’s progress off the shelves.

The M amp;S hugely successful dinner and dessert for two with a decent bottle of wine for £10 now faces strong competition from other multiple operators. As this concept grows in popularity, what are the chances we could produce a similar deal for our customers? Cook and other specialist ‘complete meal’ retailers are expanding quickly. Only a year ago ready meals were struggling – but no more.

Are promotions a tool for attracting new business or giving away profit? The him! survey of caterers published in ProWholesaler (April edition) made interesting reading. ‘Keen prices and promotions don’t make up for weaknesses in standards, service, range and convenience of visit’, it says. Caterers visiting cash and carries say promotions are way down their list of priorities. While there is a need to project a competitive image, we would do well to rethink our promotional strategy and focus more on availability and choice in future.

 

== friday ==

 

Insight Track Research, working with FDF, claims that more consumers are turning to frozen foods as the recession bites.

 

That will come as no surprise to the likes of Iceland whose expansion plans are well publicised, but we must make sure we, and our retail customers, also get a slice of the action.

For my family, we have regularly been putting out of date food from the fridge into the dustbin. Not any more. Frozen foods are unquestionably in favour and our stock range and promotional activity must reflect this.

Fans of the Simpsons, will be rushing out to buy the limited edition Frijj chilled milkshakes featuring Homer. Can’t wait to discover what cookie dough flavour milkshake, with no artificial flavours, will taste like.

Morrison’s is advertising litres of Bells, Smirnoff and Gordon’s at £12 a bottle, with a maximum purchase of three bottles in total per person over the Bank Holiday weekend. That’s equivalent to £8.40 a 70cl bottle, cheaper than our own brand! Publican’s will like this.

Kraft’s £4.3m investment in Oreo, the world’s biggest selling biscuit, is much needed. By its own admission the brand has been purchased by just one in every six households. Progress through independents would be greatly helped by sector specific promotional activity.

There are a few scruffy cash and carries out there (not us) who would benefit from the sound confectionery merchandising advice being offered presently by Nestlé Confectionery. As one of the biggest investors in the independent sector, it knows a thing or two about building business and none of us should think we can’t learn something by listening to it.

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