In the same week Storm Doris was shaking our shores at the end of last month, Kraft Heinz’s £115 billion bid for Unilever was buffeting the grocery business. For a moment it felt like we were back in the heady days of the 1980s, but the bid collapsed quickly, short lived as the storm.
Conglomerates exist to maximise profits for their investors, of course, and there’s no room for sentimentality in business. But at trading level in the grocery market, suppliers and retailers have to work closely and consumers get very fond of their favourite brands. Unilever has many much-loved brands in many categories. With the collapse of the bid they are safe again for the moment.
The grocery industry thrives on new products and fresh initiatives, and Empire Bespoke Foods is definitely delivering the goods. The West London business is one of the UK’s most respected food importers, distributors and brand-builders, representing over 100 brands across 13 categories, with an extensive portfolio of products sourced from Asia, Europe and America.
Featured on our front cover Empire Bespoke Foods’ Thai Taste range includes over 50 easy to use, versatile products that bring true authenticity to the world foods category, as they are all made in Thailand with the time-poor British consumer in mind. In another development reported in this issue, Empire Bespoke Foods have signed an exclusive deal with US cereal company POST, offering UK shoppers some of America’s best-loved breakfast cereals.
In our grocery pages Quorn, the versatile, sustainable alternative to meat, is going from strength to strength with a relaunch starting this month, including NPD, a redesign, a new website and a new TV campaign. The Quorn story began life in the 1960s when Lord Rank – who gave us the Rank films, introduced by the man with the gong – sent his team in search of new foods. They found a friendly microorganism that turned starch to protein and Quorn was born. Today, Quorn is worth £157m in retail, putting it up there with brands like Philadephia and Mars and Yorkshire-based Quorn Foods is a global market leader in healthier, more sustainable protein sources, which it exports around the world,
Finally, don’t miss our Tobacco and Smokers Accessories feature in this issue. Grocery retailers reading this will be very much aware of the EU rules concerning how tobacco products and e-cigarettes and vaping products are made, produced and sold. Meanwhile the tobacco accessories category, worth over £250 million, remains buoyant, and Republic Technologies and Clipper are driving the growth with busy NPD programmes. Unlike cigarettes, retailers are still free to merchandise these products in store.
Written by Charles Smith, Editor, The Grocery Trader
This commentary first appeared in the March 2017 edition of The Grocery Trader.