Our January Winter Warmers activity looks decidedly out of place and I think we can put the sledges and snow shovels back on top for another year. Still, we’ve got St Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Pancake Day on the horizon, and our Easter selections are already in the depot.

We have seen a growth in popularity for dips and pre-dinner bites, particularly pre-packed brazil nuts, cashews, almonds and exotic spicy mixed snack packs and ‘healthy’ crisps. Mintel picked up on this trend recently and a solid increase in sales through November and December endorses its report.

We liked the simplicity of the FSA’s traffic-light system to provide easy to understand nutritional information so the recently launched alternative guideline daily amount (GDA) programme, which enjoys considerable support from leading producers and retailers, leaves us wondering whether we are going in the right direction for our exclusive food and drink brands.

Sales to caterers have shown little improvement over the year and we must urgently revise our marketing strategies to build on this vital category and attract more customers into the depot, increase their weekly spend and open up more delivered accounts. Our fresh and frozen food ranges have been extensively overhauled and we know we are capable of managing a lot more business.

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