july08-front.jpgWelcome to the July Grocery Trader, packed with stories from companies making the running in the UK grocery industry. We have interviews with California Raisins, KTC (Edibles) and Mitsubishi Electric’s digital photo printing business and extended articles on companies including Daloon, Glendale Foods, Kitchen Guru and Taj Foods. According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s “warmest May on record” boosted retail sales. Hopefully we can look forward to more this month, good news for grocery traders of all sizes. Now Spain has won the Euro 2008, it would be kind of them to share their sunshine with us.

No sunny days for Marks & Spencer, though. As we closed M&S reported that like-for-like UK sales fell 5.3% in the 13 weeks to June 28. Sales of general merchandise, fell 6.2%: food was 4.5% lower. M&S has ousted its head of food Steven Esom, who joined from Waitrose just over a year ago. To this column that’s like sacking your captain at half time when you’re losing, but M&S know best.

Our Barbecue feature is an update on what makes a great Barbie. Our Snacking Spotlight will inspire you to tempt your shoppers and treat yourself to tasty profits. ‘Ethnic Food & Drink’ is a taste of what’s new in cuisines from around the world – Asia/Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, plus key religious foods such as Halal and Kosher.

In our interviews, Peter Meadows, UK and Europe Marketing Director for the Raisins Administrative Committee, reveals imports of California raisins into Western Europe for the year ending March 2008 were up 49% on 2007 at 40,121 metric tonnes, fuelled by a combination of the weak US dollar and soaring prices of Turkish raisins following a smaller than expected crop in Turkey last year. It’s great news all round for the major Californian raisin producers represented by the Californian Raisin Marketing Board, and a boost for the Raisin Administrative Committee’s work over the last few years raising awareness and increasing trade and consumer purchases of California Raisins in the UK and Europe.

KTC (Edibles) is probably best known as Britain’s largest independent manufacturer and distributor of oils and fats. The KTC and Sea Isle food brands, which it also markets, are familiar to Asian and Afro-Caribbean consumers here and in many countries overseas.

Our third interviewee, Mitsubishi Electric, is a world leader and major innovator in the design and manufacture of high quality digital photo technology. MEE has been working with UK supermarkets and C-store chains to help them provide high quality digital photo processing as part of their non-food offering, and benefit from the trend for shoppers to place more increasing emphasis on convenience. Mitsubishi is now sharpening its focus on this important area with its new digital photo solution, Easyphoto.

Happy reading, and have a sunny and successful month!

Charles Smith

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