It’s business as usual for this time of year, with snowdrifts, high winds, low temperatures, and motorway repairs under way across the UK, but the goods must still get through on time and at the best possible price.

Amazon Fresh is undercutting UK supermarket prices by up to 20%, according to a study by consultancy Oliver Wyman, raising further pressure on other grocers as the online giant grows its dominance. In other news British food tech company It’s Fresh! has secured a £7.6 million investment from AgroFresh Solutions, the global leader in produce freshness solutions. It’s Fresh!’s green and white filters, which absorb the ripening hormone ethylene, are used by supermarkets in the UK, the US and Europe. And Wham Bam Lamb, Quality Meat Scotland’s recent Scotch Lamb PGI marketing campaign has increased retail sales of Scottish-origin lamb in Scotland by 38.2% during the campaign compared with the same period last year.

In our features in this issue we take our first look of 2018 at the Back of Store, taking in warehousing and logistics for UK supermarkets, Co-ops and convenience store chains. In a major expression of confidence in the UK economy, Lidl is to create up to 1,000 new jobs through a new RDC in Luton to service its Greater London stores. The new million square feet warehouse will be Lidl’s fourth for London and its largest in the UK, double the size of its other warehouses here.

In our Tobacco & Smokers Requisites feature Philip Morris International plans to stop selling cigarettes in the UK. Last month it launched a new ad campaign promising to move its business and consumers to give up cigarettes. PMI is also pushing its smoke free products, such as e-cigarettes, as healthier alternatives. UK cigarette sales were dealt a massive blow last May when new rules came in, which mean cigarettes must be sold in standardised packs with graphic warnings of the dangers of smoking. Last September Booker reported second quarter tobacco sales down nearly 10%.

In our Colds & Flu feature, our busy lifestyles continue to take their toll on consumer health, leaving us prone to coughs, colds and other bugs, says Lucy Cornford, Category Director – Personal Care at Mintel. The need to power through at work not only increases the demand for products to relieve coughs and colds, but also helps spread them in the workplace, bringing in more consumers – the original viral marketing.

As our Spring Cleaning feature reminds us, in a few weeks it will be time once again for Britain’s annual spring cleaning blitz. In our era of compulsive self-improvement, spring cleaning the home in March is a natural follow on from January’s detoxing and dieting and February’s fitness. The Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere falls on Tuesday March 20th, ten days before the Easter break.

And finally, in our Quote Unquote section we profile Camilla Marcus-Dewe, Head of Commercial at CLARITY-The Soap Co, which has been providing meaningful employment for blind, visually impaired and disadvantaged people since 1854, creating and selling quality products like their new CLARITYECO+ range, which goes into grocers in 2018. Have a good month, and keep warm!

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