buyer’s diary

Monday

Chancellor George Osborne’s budget, like last year, did little to boost confidence for us or our customers.

The rise in duty on alcohol of over 7% adds 11p to a bottle of wine with tax now well over 50% of the retail purchase price. Likewise the 40p increase for a bottle of spirits and 3p on a pint of beer provides little cheer. And this on top of last year’s 15p tax increase on wine, 50p on spirits and 4p on beer.

I am puzzled by Nestlé Confectionery’s decision to launch Rowntree’s Fruit Bottles, a product aimed specifically at mums with ‘a nostalgic appeal for those who remember the sweets they enjoyed in their childhoods’. The launch is supported by a £3.5m media support through 2012, with additional exposure through Facebook and other digital communications. The new £1 Rolo bar looks a good buy.

Magners Cider is back on the TV this summer with a multi-million pound campaign which includes outdoor, digital and social network coverage. Whether or not the humour in the “made in the dark” advertising theme will win cider drinkers over remains to be seen. The brand claims it is the number one ‘modern cider’ in the UK. Is this a new sub category?

Tuesday

I am cringing at some of the Diamond Jubilee food-related products coming into the business.

I don’t doubt the attraction of a free range British chicken pie with a curried Coronation-style sauce laced with mango chutney, sweet corn and coconut, but what has this to do with the jubilee celebrations?

An increase in the minimum wage of 11p to £6.19 an hour from October appears to have upset independent retailers who, according to the Association of Convenience Stores, will now have little choice but to reduce staff hours and delay investment. Oh, come off it. In most independent stores, staff are the greatest asset and should be rewarded with a living wage, not a minimum one.

Kepak’s plan to work more closely with convenience and independent retailers is welcomed. But can it really double its turnover simply by unveiling a new category definition,’quick and tasty snacks and meals’, to be eaten hot, on the go or in the home? How else would you eat them? Developing its market-leading product range through ‘Investment, Insight and Innovation’ is the way forward.

Wednesday

Judging from the emails and post received at home, the major 2012 Olympic Games sponsors are firing up and ready to go.

They are helping to build the excitement which we really hope will bring new business opportunities for us and our customers, but the government is not being consistent in its backing.

On one hand it is allowing multiples to extend their Sunday trading hours, which will impact considerably on the independent sector’s sales, and on the other it is extending the weekend opening hours for all on-trade premises while campaigning to reduce binge drinking and increasing taxes to reduce consumption. Stay open longer sell less?

I have a little more sympathy for Kraft Foods’ (or is it Mondelez?) efforts to mark the Diamond Jubilee with the launch of a limited edition 400g Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar in a heritage pack, if only because the Cadbury brand was awarded a Royal Warrant as ‘manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate’ by Queen Victoria back in 1854.

If production gets moved abroad, all this will have to change.

Thursday

A recent report suggested that ‘limiting waste and trading down will help savvy shoppers gain better control of their spending’.

With discounters making a big impact and own brand products enjoying a renaissance we are facing an important shift in customer behaviour and must be ready to exploit it.

The marketing speak behind the launch of the limited edition of Galaxy fruits is sheer poetry, ‘perfectly encapsulating the indulgence and pleasure which have become synonymous with the Galaxy brand the perfect treat for a luxurious snack for discerning chocolate lovers. Consumers will love the benefit of a combination of textures with the mix of wafer and cream providing an ideal afternoon snacking moment.’

Friday

The failure of DBC at the end of March casts a long shadow over delivered foodservice wholesaling.

The foodservice industry is highly competitive and the price of securing new business in the cost sector doesn’t leave operators much room for error. It is a very sad day for this 110-year old company. The trade is losing some good friends and we wish them well for the future.

It is the sign of a responsible professional manufacturer in providing honest ranging and merchandising advice to retailers. Red Bull’s helpful ranging guide says that 72% of Sports and Energy Drinks are made up of just 20 SKUs, and names 15 competitor brands. It is refreshing to have such good advice to share. CCE’s recently announced Chilled+ initiative will also help Indies manage their ranges better in a buoyant market that has enjoyed two years of strong growth.

Landmark Wholesale’s move to offer incentives to its 2,000 Lifestyle Express fascia customers has got to be worth a go. It’s the perfect way to get new products onto retailers shelves and ensure suppliers’ promotional investment is working right through to the store. So many great buying opportunities fail to produce volume sales because the deals are not passed on to the consumer.

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