chazWelcome to the April Grocery Trader. Easter’s behind us: winter’s given way to spring. Well, that’s the theory – according to the BBC, in the UK, April temperatures have been recorded from -15°C to +29.4°C!

Our extreme weather is no deterrent to smokers, a hardy bunch in their determination to enjoy their habit outside pubs, offices and so on. Solitary smokers and little groups puffing away on pavements are a familiar sight across the UK, but the tobacco counter displays serving them look increasingly likely to disappear. Following the Scottish parliament’s vote in January, cigarette displays in Scottish shops are due to be banned from next year in large retailers: smaller shops have until 2013.

As profiled in this issue, the Smokythek tobacco dispensing system from Clemthek Ltd offers far-sighted tobacco retailers a solution to the forthcoming display ban. The first such system of its kind to be offered in the UK and currently utilised in other European countries with great success, Smokythek dispenses tobacco products from an enclosed unit installed beneath the current serving area. We speak to Sarah Kimbell, Marketing Manager at Clemthek.

In this month’s special features we look at Big Night In, The Lite Stuff and Personal Care.

One welcome side effect of increased awareness and understanding of healthier eating and drinking habits is the continuing growth of ‘Light’ products, AKA the Lite Stuff. Shoppers seeking healthier lifestyles have no shortage of food and drink offering ‘Low/No’ alternatives, in terms of reduced contents of fat, salt, sugar, alcohol and so on.

The Lite Stuff as we define it also covers ‘Free from’ alternatives, which help people with health and medical concerns avoid particular ingredients. These are enjoying better availability in supermarkets, but in many retailers still languish in a ghetto somewhere around aisle 28. Organic and Fairtrade products are now offered as another consumer choice in many grocery categories, so why not Free From? Our opinion piece in this feature widens the debate.

In our Personal Care feature we report how the Oral Care category continues to grow at a pace, while Hair Care sales are still buoyant but have been trimmed by the recession.

Whatever the economy does, as a nation Britons are always ready to party! Carbonated soft drinks and bagged snacks are two of the biggest mainstays of home entertaining, in sales terms, and thankfully have remained buoyant through the recession. Being pitched at affordable prices for all pockets is integral to bagged snacks and carbonates’ continued success, as it is for all products targeting the Big Night In occasion.

Have a good month.

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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