Brexit is finally upon us after over three years of political and legal wrangling, but that is not the only new development hitting retailers as the grocery sector heads into 2020. The start of the year is seeing new faces arriving at key businesses and new products hitting the shelves for consumers to choose from. The year ahead promises to be a rollercoaster as firms adapt to the new business climate, but there are also big shifts in lifestyle to be taken into account.

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Younger consumers are now coming of age who are increasingly looking to make more health-conscious decisions, including actively wanting to reduce their alcohol, sugar and calorie intake. Fortunately, the UK food and drink industry is ready to respond to this trend towards healthier products, in spite of the increased uncertainty faced by all businesses across the UK this year.

Angela Appleton, Senior Brand Manager for the Low and No Alcohol (LoNo) category at Heineken UK, spoke with Grocery Trader’s Glen Izzard about her role in shaping marketing and innovation for this relatively new category, whose sales she says peak at similar times to alcoholic drinks throughout the year. The only slight variance is that the now traditional Dry January offers a huge opportunity for the Alcohol-Free segment.

We also speak to Fredrik Svensson, General Manager, British American Tobacco about the UK Vape market.

Meanwhile in food, the UK got its first official UK agent for The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark in the shape of the new Promote Vegan group. The organisation will guide the British food industry through the process needed to register vegan products and let this growing client demographic know which items will match their lifestyle choices.

Nor does Brexit mean the end of food firms’ ties to Europe. Mile High Labs, the global leader in processed hemp-derived cannabidoil (CBD) visited the European Parliament to request clarification on the regulatory process for CBD products, as the huge growth potential of the new market requires clearer and more robust regulation inside EU member states. The EU classifies CBD as a ‘novel food’ but has left implementing what that means up to its member states (including at the time the UK). With CBD now a maturing category, Wendi Young, the Vice President of Regulatory and Compliance for the company says Mile High Labs is working within the UK government and Europe to ensure that manufacturing processes keep up.

The new year is seeing key personnel changes at top food and drinks companies, with Heineken UK announcing the arrival of James Crampton as its Corporate Affairs Director, replacing David Paterson, who has moved up to take the role of Regional Corporate Affairs Director (Afirca & Middle East). Meanwhile meat-alternative giant Quorn Foods has picked Marco Bertacca to be the company’s new Chief Executive from January and lead its continued domestic and international growth.

Finally, GroceryAid, the grocery industry’s national charity, has announced that its second Awareness Day will be held on Tuesday 3rd March 2020. The charity will be spreading awareness about the emotional, financial and practical support available to members of the grocery industry, letting them know they’re not alone if they’re struggling as the UK heads into a new decade.

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