Buyer’s Diary

== monday ==

Britvic’s performance has improved thanks to an about turn in carbonate sales and demand for its healthier drinks.

With the success of J2O and increasing consumer interest in health and well-being we expect more new developments like the recently announced Robinson’s Smooth and Fruit Shoot Juice. It won’t have it all its own way with Innocent and Pepsico investing heavily in the emerging smoothies market. And what is Coca-Cola up to?

CAMRA was a bit over the top when it described supermarkets as reckless and dangerous for selling beer cheaper than the price of water. When you get to taste some of these beers it’s hard to tell the difference anyway! You need 4% minimum alcohol to get any kind of taste.

Bud Silver at 4.1% alcohol by volume has lots of potential, particularly in cans, so we are surprised by the lack of marketing spend from Anheuser-Busch so far. Now we hear it is running a radio campaign supported by outdoor advertising. Will this be enough to get retailers stocking?

== tuesday ==

However well the bird flu crisis in Suffolk is managed, people are going to be turned off from turkey and other poultry products. Expect some very good offers soon!

Breakfast cereals are back on the agenda. Weetabix is on the offensive with excellent TV advertising and, in spite of the mild winter, porridge sales are well ahead with instant oats driving the category. Mornflakes is also busy with its biggest ever campaign with lots of healthy new products and a great link to cartoon favourites Wallace Gromit.

The chewing gum market is livening up thanks to Wrigley’s new liquid filled Extra Ice and Hubba Bubba bubble gum and its media support for Orbit Complete. Even the launch of Trident’s Splash and Soft made the BBC news (note: why do jawing football managers make gum chewing look so unattractive?). Wrigley’s recent purchase of a chocolate factory in Russia could lead to some very interesting developments in the UK confectionery market – Cadbury watch out!

Seldom a day passes without our deliberating over our catering and foodservice proposition. Dedicated foodservice wholesalers do a great job and while we are not yet equipped to handle major contractual work with schools and hospitals, the opportunity to supply more local catering establishments must be seized.

We have plenty of customers picking up basic catering goods and current margins make this highly profitable but our fresh and chilled ranges may need revisiting. We have to grow this business and protect ourselves from the slow decline in retail trade. Our strict customer registration policy may place us at a disadvantage over some competitors who are granting entrance to individuals who would struggle with us to prove their trading status. Is it time to rethink our policy?

== wednesday ==

It makes a lot of sense for the My Shop is Your Shop campaign to extend activities and move to a National Independents’ Week this June.

Sponsoring suppliers can expect a lot more business and we hear that several major wholesalers are directing substantial resources to the campaign and securing additional supplier support. We are on the case.

We are going to lose more tobacco business when the smoking ban comes into force on July 1 and the prospect of an above inflation increase in tobacco duty in Gordon’s final Budget must be on the cards. Government advertising showing people being hooked like fish to smoking adds to the gloom.

Valentine’s Day sales are difficult to measure but we have dressed up a couple of ends with heart motifs and a selection of luxury boxed chocolates on display. We have added greetings cards, some Ros eacute; wines, pink champagne and a few other special gifts ideas for him and her. We will be selling a limited selection of flowers too, but many customers take delivery direct so it is a bit of a gamble. There doesn’t appear to be much romance in the cash and carry these days.

== thursday ==

Our Easter confectionery displays look fantastic and we have tried really hard to come up with some special purchases from niche suppliers.

Customers appear to like it and there is more to Easter than cr egrave;me filled eggs. Producers like Lindt and Guylian are showing the way.

Can’t wait to taste the new Irish baked Guinness whole grain loaf but shouldn’t the song ‘Bread of Heaven’ be adopted by the Irish following their recent rugby success over Wales in Cardiff?

The launch of Herrljunga Swedish cider could spoil the cider category’s recent recovery if it leads to the arrival of a flood of new products from around the world. Cider display space is tight and we would rather back English premium quality producers like Merrydown, Thatcher’s and Weston’s. With Magner’s about to take our sector seriously and Gaymer’s announcing a massive pound;26m marketing spend to include Olde English and Blackthorn, retailers should fill their shelves with these volume lines.

The pound;7m marketing spend on Ryvita’s Goodness cereal fruit bars and Mini’s featuring Fern Britton are having a big impact on sales.

== friday ==

The big money is coming out to keep us snacking throughout February.

Kinder’s pound;5m spend on Bueno is matched by Mars Delight’s equally substantial investment and Nestl eacute;’s Kit Kat Dark is also splashing out on the box, ensuring continued focus on the ‘indulgent’ end of the countline market. It’s all good for our business.

Out on the town last night and feeling a little snackish following an early supper, I raided the fridge in my hotel room only to discover that a Mars Bar and a can of Diet Coke would set me back pound;4.

Resorting to a complementary hot chocolate I couldn’t help thinking that if you ever wanted not to sell something, this is the way to do it.

As Masterfoods withdraws all advertising towards children under 12 can we expect brand investment being redirected towards teenage and adult brands?

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