Welcome to The Grocery Trader’s Review Of The Year 2013. It’s that time again – Christmas is zooming up faster than you can say “Santa please send me a selected Speyside Single Malt gift set!”

chazAs another busy year ends, December is traditionally time for taking stock, reviewing strategy and celebrating success. To get into the mood we present The Grocery Trader’s Review of The Year, with a look back at some of the business stories we’ll remember from 2013, and overviews from a number of expert commentators from different parts of the industry. Our Review of The Year shines an appreciative light on some areas of excellence where much great work is being done in so many fields – among them grocery NPD and marketing, packaging and the back of the store and supply chain.

Colds and flu and the need to keep our homes clean are with us whatever the economy does, good news for manufacturers like RB, and retailers who stock their products. A busy cold and flu season in 2012/13 and successful NPD in both OTC and home and hygiene brands meant 2013 has been a strong year for RB brands, which we reported on regularly in our pages over the months. RB consistently invests in R & D, launching innovative new products that respond to consumer needs, and is committed to its target of re-igniting market growth across categories. In OTC medicine RB has underlined its leadership in the cold and flu sector with the launch of the new Lemsip Flavour Fusions and the presentation of the Nurofen cold and flu range, including Nurofen for Children. RB will be supporting cold and flu this season, spending over £12m on these brands on TV throughout the season. On the home and hygiene front this year saw RB brand Cillit Bang back on screen with a new Barry Scott campaign and the first appearance of the Harpic Power Plus Fireman, with the tag line ‘Strong, Dark and Powerful’!

When the warmer weather finally came in May, it was the turn of Kepak Convenience Foods, the hot snacking specialists best known for their power brand Rustlers, to grab the headlines with their ‘Hot, Quick & Tasty’ initiative. As featured on the front page of our Review, Kepak have coined ‘HQT’ as a tasty new category definition for the array of single serve products that can be prepared in under 5 minutes and eaten hot. In what they are calling one of the most significant moves in convenience chilled food retailing for decades Kepak are urging retailers to re-appraise how they approach ‘HQT’ foods, citing research and social trend analysis which indicates this sector is poised for strong and sustained long term growth, and forecast to top £500 million in the next decade.

Also on our front page, following the first Caribbean Food Week in 2012, this summer Grace Foods UK, the UK’s number 1 supplier of Caribbean food and drink, encouraged Brits to try the exotic flavours of the Caribbean once again. The second Caribbean Food Week took place in August, just before the Notting Hill Carnival, and tied in with the company’s biggest ever NPD drive.

During 2013 the California Raisins team have also been busy getting the message across to UK consumers about the benefits of California Raisins in cooking, baking and snacking, and bringing the different UK trade audiences up to date about why their product presents a smarter, confident choice, all through a combination of targeted initiatives.

And staying with fruit, the first shipment of BanaBay bananas was imported into the UK in June last year. From an initial two containers, the new brand has gone from strength to strength, with a million BanaBay bananas transported a week, supplying the UK and also being imported into Ireland, The Netherlands, Egypt and, most recently, New Zealand. Ceinconsa SA, growers of BanaBay bananas, recently netted an impressive two places in the hotly contested ‘Banana King’ competition, held each year in Ecuador – a country recognised worldwide for producing premium quality bananas.

There’s been truckloads of innovation in the Back of Store as well.  Among the many prizes and awards Crown Lift Trucks has won for its products are the IMHX 2013 Design for Safety Award, the Red Dot design award, the IF Product Design Gold Award, the Good Design Award and the I.D. Design Distinction Award. At the LogiMAT 2013 trade show in Stuttgart, Germany, the prototype of Crown’s newly-developed Quick Pick® Remote product – a flexible, semi-automatic solution for low-level order picking – won the Best Product 2013 Award in the “Order-Picking, Packaging, Securing” category.

To top-off a very successful 2013, frozen warehouse provider Partner won the ‘Best Warehouse Operations’ award at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Annual Awards of Excellence 2013 for the design, build and operation of their warehouse in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, that delivers high quality and best-in-class performance levels for leading names in the frozen food industry.

And finally, if you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, don’t miss our article from Ian Wood, Co-founder and MD of Adande Refrigeration, who examines the challenges facing fresh food retailers and considers how to use energy more efficiently and reduce food waste.

Here’s to another year of innovation and achievement in 2014.

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