Online Grocery Sales Boom

The latest industry data from Nielsen confirms that supermarkets in the UK experienced their biggest Christmas ever last month, with the online channel playing a key role. The online share of grocery sales more doubled to 12.5% (as oppose to 6.7% in 2019) over the four weeks to the 26th of December. The rise was due to a total of 8.5 million households, just over 30% of all households, shopping for their Christmas groceries online, an increase from 5.7 million households over the festive period in 2019.

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Black Friday 2.0

Today we recap Black Friday and how the sales from that manic day have made the retail industry look.

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Sainsbury’s Unveils New Fresh Food Market

Sainsbury’s has launched a new ‘Fresh Food Market’ format at a revamped store in Hempstead Valley, Kent, as part of its wider drive to refocus on its core grocery offer.

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Will JD Sports Bail Out Debenhams?

JD Sports has emerged as a serious contender to rescue Debenhams from their financial deprivation during this most turbulent of pandemic times.

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Diageo recalls Guinness 0.0

Drinks group Diageo is recalling all its newly launched non-alcoholic paddy power stout because of a ‘microbiological contamination’, only two weeks after it was launched.

It warned that cans of the new Guinness 0.0 drink, which took four years to develop, may be ‘unsafe to consume’ and advised people who had purchased the alcohol-free beer to dispose of it or return it to where it was bought.

‘It warned that cans of the new Guinness 0.0 drink, which took four years to develop, may be ‘unsafe to consume’  

The contamination is understood to have occurred during the production process at its St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin and tests are being carried out to establish the cause. In the meantime, production and canning has been halted.

Guinness 0.0 went on sale at the end of October this year in 4x440ml can packs in off-licences and in Waitrose and Morrison’s supermarkets, with plans for it to be rolled out to other retailers. It was due to become available on draught in pubs next spring and to be launched in other parts of the world later in 2021.

The new drink was launched to tap into consumers’ growing appetite for non- and low-alcohol options. Even before lockdown, an increasing number of brewers were offering more no- and low-alcohol alternatives, while COVID-19 related restrictions have increased consumers’ thirst for hangover-free options as drinking habits have become home-based.

It seems that this issue is isolated to Guinness 0.0 and does not impact any other Guinness variants or brands. However, if you have bought Guinness 0.0 and have a few cans stacked up in the fridge or stored in the backroom, do not consume it.

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The Vaccine Is Here!

It’s been all over the news; we may have a cure.

The first effective coronavirus vaccine has been developed and it looks like it can prevent more than 90% of people from getting COVID-19. The developers – Pfizer and BioNTech – described it as a ‘great day for science and humanity’. Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised. The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.

‘The two companies say they will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021.  

No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time, ever. There are still huge challenges ahead, but the announcement has been warmly welcomed with scientists describing themselves smiling ‘ear to ear’ and some suggesting life could be back to normal by spring.

Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators. Until it has been approved it will not be possible for countries to begin their vaccination campaigns. The two companies say they will be able to supply 50 million doses by the end of this year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. Each person needs two doses. The UK should get 10 million doses by the end of the year, with a further 30 million doses already ordered.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on business across the globe, including FMCG and retail – so this will be very welcome news for us all. The pandemic is leading to a recession in many countries and retailers the world over are feeling the pinch the pandemic has caused.

If it is the case that a vaccine will bring things back to normal by spring, then the FMCG industry will be more grateful than many (but perhaps not as grateful as airlines) that this period of economic uncertainty is coming to an end.

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Weekly Roundup Food and Logos after Brexit

Today, we look at how Coca-Cola are handling their uncertain profits, what the new rules are for Food and Logos after the Brexit deal, and how Caffe Nero considers a CVA to reduce its bills. Enjoy!

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Weekly Roundup Heineken hit with a £2 million fine

Today, we look at the multi-million pound fine on Heineken, Waitrose continue their success with the services of Deliveroo, and Brew Dog get on Aldi’s shelves with a beer born out of Twitter banter. Enjoy!

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Weekly Roundup Plant-based food products

Plant-based food products becoming a more popular option

Almost half of the UK population (44%) would consider trying a plant-based product because of the positive health benefits, according to new research conducted by Product of the Year, the UK’s biggest survey of product innovation.

Conducted online last month, UK consumers were asked to identify factors that would encourage them to try a plant-based product with 31% citing cost as a determining factor (the second most popular response after health benefits) with one in four (25%) identifying environmental factors.

With people playing closer attention to their diet during (and post) lockdown and increasingly adopting ‘flexitarian’ diets, the sales of plant-based products have soared. Recent stats from Kantar showed an 87% increase in plant-based product sales, buoyed by the success of initiatives such as Veganuary.

Kellogg's launching innovative packaging for the blind

Kellogg’s has marked World Sight Day by launching Coco Pops boxes for blind and partially sighted people as a trial in almost 60 Co-op stores. The new boxes have been created in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). They feature UK-first technology that allows a smartphone to detect an on-pack code which triggers the playback of labelling and allergen information to the user. The trial comes after research from RNIB revealed that nine in ten blind and partially sighted people feel that information on food packaging is difficult or impossible to read.

The technology, called NaviLens, is currently used across Barcelona, Madrid, and other Spanish city’s transport systems, making the cities easier to navigate for visually impaired people. It has now been introduced in the UK for the first time as part of the Kellogg’s trial. It is also the first time NaviLens has been used on food packaging. If successful, the business hopes to adapt more of its cereal boxes to include the technology.

Waitrose bags the award for ‘Supermarket of the year’

Waitrose has won the title of ‘Supermarket of the Year’ at the annual Which? awards that recognise brands across various industries for good customer service, value for money, innovation, and breadth of offering. In the supermarket category, Waitrose saw off competition from shortlisted rivals including Asda, Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

The consumer watchdog praised the chain’s response to the pandemic, offering customers a range of ways to shop, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable. It said Waitrose have handled the increase in demand for groceries particularly well, particularly during a difficult economic period.

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Weekly Roundup Asda’s owners are changing

Asda’s owners are changing

The Issa brothers and TDR Capital are set to become the new owners of Asda after agreeing a £6.8 billion deal with Walmart. The billionaire founders of the EG Group forecourt business and the British private equity firm will be equal shareholdings in a majority ownership stake. Walmart will retain an equity investment in the business, with an ‘ongoing commercial relationship’ and a seat on the Board.

The Issa brothers, backed by TDR, said they will support and accelerate Asda’s existing strategy. The low-profile entrepreneurs from Blackburn have built a small family business into an empire with around 6,000 forecourts in 10 countries and €20 billion annual revenues. TDR Capital now owns half of the EG group, with Zuber Issa controlling 25% and Mohsin Issa the remaining 25%.

Aldi are doing their bit for the environment

Aldi is claiming it will save more than 100 tonnes of plastic a year by scrapping single-use bags for loose fruit and veg across all its stores. The bags will be removed from all its nearly 900 stores by the end of the year. Instead, shoppers will be encouraged to bring their own containers or buy reusable drawstring produce bags, which are made from recycled bottles and cost 25p each. The move follows a trial in 100 stores across the Midlands earlier this year.

In July, Aldi announced a new commitment to halve the volume of plastic packaging it used by 2025. The supermarket is also on track to have all its own label products as recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022, and branded products sold at Aldi by 2025.

Is Subway bread really bread?

Subway’s bread contains so much sugar it cannot be legally defined as bread, Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled. The ruling came after a Subway franchisee argued that some of its takeaway products, including teas, coffees and heated filled sandwiches, were not liable for VAT. But the appeal was rejected by a panel of judges, who said the bread’s sugar content was five times the qualifying limit under Ireland’s Value-Added Tax Act of 1972. This meant it could not be categorised as a ‘staple food’, which is not taxed in Ireland.

This is not the first time Subway has been embroiled in controversy over its sandwiches. In 2014, Subway removed a flour whitening agent called azodicarbonamide following a petition. The chemical is used to make yoga mats and shoe rubber and has been banned for consumption by the European Union for over a decade.

As shocking information as this is…it probably won’t put us off going to Subway. I do love my foot-long BLT’s on Hearty Italian (not) Bread. Very nice.

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