Welcome to the September issue of The Grocery Trader. After the euphoria of Team GB’s outstanding success in the Rio Olympics and the balmy summer weather of the last few weeks, the holiday season is ending and the schools and colleges are going back, as our Back to School feature in this issue reminds us.
As the new term starts, so does the new Parliamentary session, with the Government facing pressure from industry. Despite his global advertising empire with its multitudes of world brands and big UK grocery name clients posting pre-tax profits up 16% in the first half of 2016, Sir Martin Sorrell – a top Brexit Remainer, by the way – is calling for Theresa May to get a move on with Brexit and end the uncertainty over when we will leave the EU, as it isn’t good for business.
Meanwhile the Brexit vote doesn’t seem to have affected consumer spending thus far. The CBI has reported shoppers hitting the stores again in August, encouraged by the sunny weather, with 35% of retailers saying last month’s sales were up on August 2015. The CBI’s head analyst Anna Leach has cautioned that the fall in sterling will boost the price of imported goods, but it could boost domestic food growers if UK retailers make it their policy to play the patriotic card and stock more homegrown food.
Britain has long been the doorstep to Europe for incoming US companies. As we went to press this trend shows no signs of abating, with an American-owned importer of the Brazilian superfood Acai (pronounced “Ah-sigh-ee”) promising an imminent launch in the next few weeks, which we will report as soon as we can.
In other brand news, the British savoury snack maker Jacob’s, now part of pladis Global, owned by Turkey’s Yildiz familyowned bakery group, is teaming up with Alex James, the Blur bassist turned farmer, food expert and cheesemaker, as their Chief Taste Curator, in a bid to liven up Britain’s lunchtimes and our school lunchboxes by inspiring us to turn to crackers as an exciting alternative to bread. We look forward to interviewing pladis Global’s MD UK & Ireland Jon Eggleton in a future issue and letting you know more about their strategy.
Finally, staying with biscuits, Burton’s Biscuits, the UK’s only biscuit maker solely founded on biscuits, as they style themselves, has sold the rights to manufacture its Cadbury’s biscuits back to Cadbury’s owner Mondelez. It remains to be seen whether Burton’s will pump the proceeds into its much loved other core brands, including Maryland, Jammie Dodgers and this column’s favourites, Wagon Wheels. With more such activity in the pipeline, it promises to be an exciting autumn.