Welcome to the May issue of The Grocery Trader. It’s official – according to the ONS Retail Statistics, supermarket sales fell significantly in March, largely due to the snow. By contrast the whiteout helped boost specialist food stores and online spending.

According to observers shoppers are becoming more loyal to the service they receive than the brands they buy and Amazon has set the standard others must follow. If the major grocery retailers are to continue to compete, they must evolve their in-store experience to give as efficient an offer as they provide online, says Tom Downes, CEO at retail headset providers Quail Digital.

With A&E departments full of snow-related fractures, it’s timely that Kellogg’s has doubled the Vitamin D in many of its cereals to help tackle the chronic low levels of this essential vitamin in our diet. Kellogg’s cereals now contain 50 per cent of our daily Vitamin D needs per bowl, the highest in the category…

In our features, ‘Grab & Go’ is now trending as the major instore opportunity for retailers of all sizes, from the biggest Asda to the tiniest Little Waitrose, as peckish punters do a supermarket sweep (yes, we’ll miss Dale Winton, who died as we went to press) to relieve their hunger. For decades the UK’s ‘eat now’ focus was strictly on drinks and snacks and other small food items like sandwiches, pies and pasties. But in the year Walkers Crisps turn 70 meat snack brands, sweet snacks, carbonated beverages and bottled water are all seeing good growth, and so are overtly ‘healthy’ food items.

Staying with food to go and addressing the panic over plastic damaging the environment, ‘FTG’ packaging manufacturer RAP has developed the world’s first Modified Atmosphere RapTray, which offers an alternative to full plastic trays and reduces plastic use by 85%. The world’s first hermetically sealed food carton food tray, the production process also removes virtually all oxygen from inside the tray, extending shelf life and maintaining food freshness.

As well as stopping punters getting to the stores, the bitter weather and heavy snowfalls have made the supermarkets’ physical distribution job harder over the last few months. As our Back of Store feature reminds us, the regional retailers are among the major grocers who are beefing up their supply chains ready for next winter. Booths have awarded a contract to Pullman Fleet Services, a Wincanton subsidiary, to provide maintenance and repair services to their HGV fleet.

At the moment the major retailers’ biggest challenge is digital, rather than physical, thanks to the looming GDPR legislation. As Thibaut Ceyrolle at Snowflake Computing reminds us, despite the opportunities data holds for omnichannel retailers, the looming GDPR legislation will pose many challenges on managing data. Companies not only need to change their procedure around data, but also their attitude towards it. Since data sets are often spread across different channels, tracking where it is stored and who has access to it becomes incredibly difficult.”

And finally in a study by Giraffe restaurants, owned by Tesco from 2013-16, one in five food fanatics confessed they are happier tucking into their favourite meal than having sex. You can’t get divorced for eating the wrong thing. Well, not yet anyway.

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