After last year’s buy-them-up bonanza we can expect more retail takeovers in 2018, but as we went to press it was the commercial property owners who were making the running. Unibail-Rodamco, which runs shopping centres across Europe, has bought Westfield in a $25bn deal, creating the world’s second-biggest mall owner.

Here we go again – it’s New Year, the weather’s grim and people are cutting back on going out. But that shouldn’t stop your shoppers having a Big Night In when they want one. So here’s our feature on the subject. UK supermarkets have done a great job shielding their shoppers from rising food and drink costs, but consumers’ concern about prices going up is fuelling their urge to have big nights in, say Mintel. They still want to indulge and enjoy themselves, but do it at home.

As our Baby & Kids feature points out, today’s parents are a picky lot to deal with. They want to give their children homemade food rather than branded, prepared foods. A growing number prefer to shop locally for non-food products like nappies. And they think cereals’ sugar levels are still high, even though they have been cut considerably and Kellogg’s are pledged to do so again.

With Chinese New Year 2018 coming up fast on February 16, it’s time once again for The Grocery Trader’s World Foods feature. Confirming our growing love of food from Southeast Asia, the latest Oriental Food Trends Report from Wing Yip, Britain’s leading Oriental food grocer, shows Chinese is still the UK’s favourite Oriental food.

In our news pages 2018 is going to be a big year for St Helen’s Farm, the UK’s leading fresh goat’s milk brand, which has just launched its first long-life product. With over 62% of the market, St Helen’s Farm is taking its credentials into ambient and meeting loyalists’ demand for the convenience of long life dairy.

In other news, Adande Refrigeration’s Aircell open front integral refrigerated Grab & Go cabinet has won the FCSI UK & Ireland Sustainable Catering Equipment Award 2017. North Yorkshire-based Inspired Pet Nutrition, our largest independent dry pet food producer, has won the Pet Industry Federation’s Sustainability Award, the second major award for their sustainability programme. And Kerry Foods has won an Export award in the Irish Food Board’s Food & Drink Industry Awards.

Even if their company is doing well, many retail colleagues risk financial shock if they fall ill, reports health and wellbeing provider BHSF. According to their survey 76 percent of retail employees worry about their financial security in the event of illness, while half lost sleep over concerns. 36 percent admitted that financial stress was impacting on their job performance. Just a quarter of those in the retail industry have access to sick pay insurance, while employees’ savings average just £2,521.

And finally, speaking of welfare, in our Quote Unquote section we profile Many Leonard, Welfare Director at GroceryAid, the grocery industry charity we are pleased to support. GroceryAid helps more than 14,000 grocery colleagues financially and through the 24/7 freephone Helpline and will spend over £4.5M on welfare support this year. We wish them well.

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