Better Wholesaling Insight - September 2023

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December 2023

In-depth analysis, insight and advice for convenience and foodservice wholesalers

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December 2023

In-depth analysis, insight and advice for convenience and foodservice wholesalers


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Balancing profit, people and the planet should become the norm

REPORT P4-5: Viewpoint Why socially responsible, ethical and sustainable practices are growing in importance

Paul Hill Editor


egardless of how some wholesalers try to fight it, the winds of change are unmistakably blowing towards a sustainable future. And as the sector plots its course through the legislative minefield, businesses find themselves at a crucial juncture where environmental considerations are no longer just ethical choices, but imperatives for long-term success. From a personal standpoint, it is difficult enough deciphering the two vastly different recycling systems I use at mine and my partner’s flats. If there’s a distinct lack of collective

thinking within these two neighbouring London borough systems, then wholesalers have my biggest sympathy for what they must face on a national level. However, despite these challenges, the sustainability wave is still sweeping through every aspect of wholesale. From sourcing and manufacturing to distribution and packaging, it’s heartening to witness an increasing number of operations adopting eco-friendly practices and embracing (and balancing) the triple bottom line – profit, people and the planet. Two wholesalers doing this very thing are Turner Price and Dee Bee Wholesale. I recently paid visits to their depots either side of the Humber River to find out the latest developments at these forward-thinking, sustainably minded wholesalers. These two interviews along with a host of other interesting pieces of insight feature in this report.



Editor Paul Hill

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Better Wholesaling Insight is published by Newtrade Media Limited, which is wholly owned by NFRN Holdings Ltd, which is wholly owned by the Benefits Fund of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents. Reproduction or transmission in part or whole of any item from Better Wholesaling may only be undertaken with the prior written agreement of the Editor. Contributions are welcomed and are included in part or whole at the sole discretion of the editor. Newtrade Media Limited accepts no responsibility for submitted material. Every possible care is taken to ensure the accuracy of information.

Editor in chief Louise Banham Head of design Anne-Claire Pickard Production editor Ryan Cooper Sub editors Jim Findlay, Robin Jarossi Senior designer Jody Cooke Junior designer Lauren Jackson Contributors David Gilroy, Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski, Rob Mannion, Charles Smith Production coordinator Chris Gardner

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Cover image credit: Getty Images/NatalyaBurova

P6: Interview We speak to the head of food supply at The Felix Project P8: Insight How Scottish Power is helping wholesalers become green P10-11: Profile What makes Dee Bee Wholesale stand out from the pack P12-13: Interview How sustainable credentials can be improved by working with FareShare P14-15 Opinion Turner Price outline its future plans and reveals some exclusive news P16-17: Spotlight Why Faire’s mission is to revolutionise wholesale and help smaller businesses P18-19: Research How the SWA is decarbonising the Scottish wholesale sector P20: Opinion There’s more than one way to be sustainable, it’s just knowing how P22-25: Foodservice A roundup of the latest news, NPD and operational changes in foodservice P26-27: Summary How to incorporate sustainable practices into operations and business decisions CATEGORY ADVICE P29-32: Sector review The latest developments and opportunities within the confectionery sector P34-37: Sector review How to navigate the hot beverages and cold brews categories

Join the conversation: Better Wholesaling Insight's publisher Newtrade Media cares about the environment.

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REPORT Gilroy’s viewpoint: Customers are increasingly expecting their service providers to be able to demonstrate socially responsible, ethical and sustainable practices

David Gilroy is the managing director of Store Excel


SG is a scam.” So says Elon Musk. ESG, or to give it its full name, Environmental, Social Governance, garners full-throated support or exasperation and frustration. Why does it stir the emotions? A framework designed to ensure businesses become better corporate citizens, respecting and protecting people and environments, ESG marks a transition from purely profit-driven metrics to those that factor in the broader impact of a company’s actions. As the B1G1 Movement states, the history of ESG started in 2004 with the late Kofi Annan, the then UN secretary general. Becoming increasingly concerned about the damage business owners were doing to the environment and to social structures, he wanted to find ways to integrate what we now refer to as sustainability into capital

markets. The ESG concept was an outcome of a group study conducted by the Swiss government and the International Finance Corporation entitled ‘Who Cares Wins’. This study was hailed as groundbreaking, and it is where the ‘ESG’ acronym was coined. Since its inception in 2004, ESG has broadened into a full-blown framework determining how responsible businesses should operate. The environment piece takes in carbon emissions, air, water pollution, biodiversity, renewable energy and waste management. The social element wraps in customer satisfaction, data protection, privacy, gender, diversity, human rights and labour standards, While the governance part covers tax strategy, executive remuneration, fair and reasonable compensation, donations, political lobbying, corruption, bribery and board composition. A mighty agenda to absorb in addition to all the other demands on a business. As we know, tight operating margins and upward cost pressures make wholesale a tough industry. Are profits and ethics mutually exclusive? Do businesses have to choose between profit or principles? Should we, as David Cameron once famously said, “cut out the green crap”? Higher business principles are not new, and they certainly were not invented in the 21st century. A forerunner of ESG was started by the Quaker movement in the 1600s. Notwithstanding the overarching religious context, the Quakers have always conducted

business to a well-established set of principles based on truth, integrity, simplicity, fairness, respect and a deep-rooted Quaker tradition of not overusing the Earth’s resources. Famous Quaker start-ups include Clarks Shoes, Bryant & May matches and Huntley & Palmer’s biscuits. Probably the best-known are chocolate companies Frys, Rowntree’s and Cadbury. Founded in 1824, Cadbury is a good example of Quaker principles in action. In 1849, it moved the business away from beverages to its own brand of chocolate. This was Cadbury’s breakthrough moment. The company innovated – boxed chocolates, Valentine’s Day presentation packs and Easter eggs were all new concepts at the time. A Bourneville factory was built on the edge of Birmingham to improve links to canals and railways. In 1893, George Cadbury purchased a 120-acre site at his own expense, where he built a model village close to the works for the workforce which would “alleviate the evils of modern, more cramped living conditions”. The company went on to become a highly respected and profitable company with a social conscience. Modern Quaker values chime with ESG principles. Study its stated codes and you will find that staying true to contracts and paying invoices on time are core to its business ethics.


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John Lewis Partnership (JLP), which is a leader in ethical business practices, seems to be taking a kicking lately from commentators. John Speden Lewis devised and then formalised the partnership in 1929. He announced that John Lewis’s profits would be shared among all its employees. The partnership’s aim was not to maximise profits, but to generate sufficient profit for its purpose. Managers would be accountable to staff through councils of elected representatives. This pioneering democracy worked well until recent years. In this century, the department store business model has experienced serious stress from market conditions, notably the pandemic, online shopping and the rise of competitors. Observers argue JLP has lost focus on retail basics in pursuit of worthy causes and employee benefits. Profits have been declining for several years, culminating in a loss of £243m last year. It has backtracked on some of its principles, such as selling off partner recreational facilities, suspending bonuses and junking the ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price platform. It also faces a refinancing challenge. Is this a weakness in the partnership model, or a failure in retail stewardship? Musk’s outburst was a response to Tesla being cut from the S&P 500 Index due to issues around claims of racial

discrimination, workforce diversity and early product failures. In his view, this was an unnecessary distraction from the business of growing sales and profit. Hein Schumacher, CEO at Unilever, reportedly views his company’s promotion of ethical issues via its brands as an unwelcome distraction. There are increasing concerns that ESG is taking on a life of its own without necessarily improving real-world outcomes. Oliver Shah, in The Sunday Times, warns of waves of impending EU regulation scheduled for ESG-related topics, from gender pay gap, to the environmental impact of employees’ travel, and of electronic devices left switched on in premises. He says corporate sustainability reporting will apply to all companies in the UK with significant activities in the EU – a definition that includes making more than €40m in sales in the bloc or having more than 250 employees there. In his Harvard Business Review article, ‘The Inconvenient Truth About Investing in ESG’, Sanjai Baghat concludes there is no evidence that investing in companies that publicly embrace ESG achieves better financial returns, nor do they seem to succeed in furthering ESG in any meaningful way. Most of us have a natural aversion to imposed bureaucracy. Provided it does not become a box-ticking exercise,

ESG emerges as a force for the good in business. There is a lot of ESG-style activity happening already in our industry – investment in electric vehicles, the installation of solar panels, conversion to LED lighting, and work on inclusion and diversity in the workplace. Larger companies such as Sysco have taken it to the next level with sustainability training initiatives. Even for smaller enterprises with limited resources, an ESG plan will add value and can be applied at little or no additional cost. Environmental to include lower carbon emissions, reduction in energy consumption, effective recycling and tighter controls of waste. Social: encompassing good human resource management through diversity, inclusion, good health and safety, and employee rights compliance. Most of which should be happening anyway. Governance: incorporating transparent stewardship, greater diversity at decision-making level, fairer remuneration and executive compensation linked to ESG-related targets. ESG specialist Miranda Partners cites five key issues to prepare for in the coming 12 months. Regulation to avoid greenwashing will increase and a range of legislation covering emissions and mandatory accounting metrics will come into force. Resource management and biodiversity will gain in importance, with water management coming to the fore. Labour practices will continue to be in the spotlight, including flexible working, diversity and zero tolerance of sexual harassment. Companies must tighten up their data privacy and cybersecurity, particularly with the integration of AI tools into daily work. This is a serious risk to many enterprises and a big one for our sector given the information held on customers and the constant outbound marketing. Finally, sustainable and resilient supply chains will continue to attract a prominent level of scrutiny. Whether it is called ‘ESG’ or simply ‘acting responsibly’, many businesses have proved that operating ethically can be profitable and sustainable. Customers may not use the term ESG, but they will increasingly expect their service providers to be able to demonstrate socially responsible, ethical and sustainable practices. Those that do will have a competitive advantage. l


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Interview: The Felix Project Paul Hill speaks to the head of food supply at The Felix Project

Richard Smith

BWI: How does The Felix Project work with wholesalers? RS: The Felix Project is London’s largest food redistribution charity. We rescue good food that would otherwise have gone to waste and give it to around 1,000 community organisations and primary schools across London who support people experiencing food insecurity. Because of our infrastructure, we’re able to work with and rescue surplus food from all aspects of the food supply chain, including wholesale. We have four depots, as well as more than 40 chilled vans. This allows us to move quickly, make collections and redistribute to the charities and schools that we serve, and ensure the food is fresh and still has as much life left as possible. We also have a kitchen that makes up to 5,000 meals a day. They can use more ingredients and rescue food with a much shorter shelf life that would not have time to make it out to our community organisations.

Tell us about your latest partnerships with wholesalers? Our biggest recent success has been a partnership with Western International Market and Hounslow Borough Council in west London. In only three-anda-half months we have rescued 79 tonnes of food, the equivalent of 189,500 meals. It’s been a truly collaborative partnership, the market has allowed us access to a parking space for our van and an office above the market. We have been introduced to the individual traders, meaning we can form better relationships and ultimately rescue even more produce. What do wholesalers need to do if they want to get involved? Give us a call or email us on – we’ll tailor a logistics solution that makes it easy for any organisation to donate to us. We can collect surplus food in vehicles that are 3.5 tonnes, with up to a 40ft unit and trailer. Have you noticed a change in sustainable thinking across the supply chain over the past twoto-three years? If so, why do you think that is? I think the increased knowledge of the levels of food poverty in communities alongside the now-well-known fact that lots of edible food is being wasted has resulted in more food organisations being incredibly keen to ensure all of their surplus food is rescued and redistributed to those that need it most.

What changes does the wholesale industry need to make to its operations to reduce food waste? Does it differ between convenience and foodservice wholesalers? I think it’s important the food industry as a whole has a keen eye on sales, waste and availability. It is inevitable that food waste and surplus will happen, especially at scale, but what is vital is that everyone has a robust way of

redistributing this and ensuring it does not end in the bin – especially given the effort that’s been put into growing or producing it and the environmental impact throwing food away has. I would like to see a clear way of monitoring levels across all areas, convenience or otherwise, and a commitment that edible food is used and given to places like The Felix Project over and above becoming food waste. l


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DEPOT TO SHELF When launching new products and promotions on big brands, getting wholesale and retail joined up is crucial to ensure success.

Tom Wood and Octavia Ludlam from Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I (SBF GB&I) visited Darren Pugh from Lioncroft Wholesale (Birmingham) and Harj Gill from Select & Save, The Windmill, to follow the journey of Lucozade Alert Zero Sugar Mango Peachade, from depot-to-shelf, to see how retailers can unlock more sales opportunities.

WHOLESALE Tom Wood, Regional Account Manager, SBF GB&I explains: “It is key for wholesalers to engage with NPD, as it drives excitement with both retailers and consumers. Over the last eight months, Lucozade Alert has more than doubled its retail sales value share,1 demonstrating the momentum behind the brand from retailers and shoppers. “It is important to promote NPD in wholesale to bring awareness of new products, and give retailers the information they need to update their shoppers.” Darren Pugh, Head of Purchasing, Lioncroft Wholesale adds: “New launch activity like Lucozade Alert Zero Sugar Mango Peachade is important for our category. Activating these well in depot helps drive sales and awareness for retailers, who are also ultimately consumers as well, to come and shop for these products at our depots. “Soft drinks are a key category within our business, which makes it important for us to work with key suppliers such as SBF GB&I.”



We know NPD gets shoppers excited, and ultimately drives sales

Lucozade Alert is capitalising on year-on-year growth of 64.5%, making the brand worth more than


Lucozade Alert Zero Sugar Mango Peachade is available through wholesale in 500ml cans, including a £1 pricemarked pack, to help retailers deliver value in their range at a time when consumers are increasingly price-conscious.

So we know this launch starts from a strong position.

Octavia Ludlam, Key Account Executive, SBF GB&I said: “It’s very important for retailers to take advantage of new product launches - straight from the depot and into their store, both on and off fixture. It’s crucial for retailers to make sure that any NPD goes across all the different touchpoints around the store: in a chiller, on a gondola end or on FSDUs, to highlight the product to the shopper. Harj Gill, Select & Save, The Windmill “Lucozade is important to me because it’s a big, well-known brand. We’re always on the lookout for new launches from big brands like this, because our customers are also always looking for new products, formats, and flavours. We always give new launches from Lucozade a try because they always seem to work well. They make a big difference to our sales.” 1 Nielsen, Total Market, value sales 52 weeks w/e 26.08.23


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Research: How ScottishPower is helping wholesalers become green Paul Hill


cottishPower, the first integrated energy company in the UK to generate 100% green electricity, has commissioned research from YouGov. The findings uncovered that just over one in six (16%) of the nation’s retailers (this includes wholesalers), classed as small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), have invested in green energy solutions including solar panels, battery storage, heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points. The survey of senior decision-makers found an intention among some to invest in sustainable tech, with 15% confirming they have sustainability targets in place for the next five years or are working towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with current UK government targets. Despite the growing need for retailers to achieve net zero, the findings highlight that almost one in 10 business leaders from any industry who have not invested in green energy solutions feel there is a lack of information, and it is a barrier to taking steps to curb their carbon footprint. More than a third of all the SME decision-makers surveyed that have not invested (34%) say the high cost involved has stopped their business from adopting green energy solutions so far. On the back of this research, ScottishPower has prepared advice on how using green solutions can help businesses

SOME INITIAL QUESTIONS SCOTTISHPOWER HAS ASKED WHOLESALERS What tools do you already have that can help you to understand where energy is used in your business? Many businesses are unaware of how to use the tools they already have to monitor and control their energy usage. Something as simple as taking regular meter readings and understanding their impact is a good place to start, even without additional portals or dashboards. If you do have energy portals that provide visibility of your energy consumption, ensuring there are members of your team who are trained on how to use and interpret the data is vital. You could also consider installing a smart meter, allowing you to see accurate information on the energy your business is using and removing the need to submit manual meter readings. Does your business have any wasteful practices that could be reduced or stopped? Once areas that use a lot of energy and wasteful practices have been identified, work to see how these could be improved. Find out if there are any quick wins, which would immediately reduce wastage, for example: • Making sure boilers are properly serviced and adjusted for optimum efficiency • Reducing the use of portable heaters, which can be inefficient and costly • Adjusting heating depending on the space (areas such as store rooms and corridors require less heat) • Ensuring employees turn down thermostats rather than opening doors and windows to cool down rooms • Upgrading or even just cleaning lighting • Switching off unused lighting, computers and other equipment overnight

reduce their carbon emissions and improve their finances. The company has offered the following advice to wholesalers in a how-to guide, which details why businesses should be thinking about investing in green energy solutions and the benefits. Any wholesaler looking to read the full guide and find out

more about seizing the opportunities of green energy solutions can visit greener-business. One business already enjoying the benefits of green energy solutions is Glasgow-based food wholesaler Lomond Foods. Last month, ScottishPower completed a project to install 270

solar panels at its HQ in Glasgow, accelerating Lomond Foods’ ambition to achieve net-zero emissions by 2025. By installing solar panels on previously unused roof space, this upgrade gives Lomond Foods the ability to self-generate electricity, meaning the business is less reliant on imported energy from the national grid. l


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Interview: Dee Bee Wholesale Paul Hill speaks to the the management team of Dee Bee Wholesale

Andy Morrison, trading director

Tell us about the company? Dee Bee Wholesale is part of The Ramsden Group, which also includes Ramsdens Home Interiors and our Re-Scan EPoS solutions business. We supply from our depots in Grimsby and Hull, which encompasses more than 60,000sq ft of floor space featuring around 10,000 products. We have depots located north and south of the Humber river, giving easy access to the M18 and M62. This means we can service a large area from Whitby on the Yorkshire coast in the north to Boston and the Lincolnshire coast, including Skegness in the south. We also have a reach across the M62 to Liverpool and North Wales, with a spread of retail customers in that area. Dee Bee is a hybrid business, with both depots operating as traditional cash and carries, but pre-

Nick Ramsden, managing director

dominately operating as delivered hubs with a fleet of 16 vehicles. Over recent years, we have developed our on-trade business significantly, but remain a retail-focused operation in the main. What are the latest developments at the company? In the past year we have relaunched our Today’s symbol fascia, moving towards new branding, which has been very well received by the retailers who have adopted it. This has been supported with new signage in store for a complete package. As part of this development, we’re relaunching our loyalty rebate scheme, with an industryleading discount of up to 6% for our symbol group retailers, which is one of the highest rebate levels in the industry. Operationally, we’re aiming

to extend our use of solar panels across the entire Grimsby and Hull operations. This will allow the company to generate all its electricity itself with the opportunity to sell any excess back to the grid – improving our green footprint while reducing costs. We’re also investing in the development of a new version of our Re-Scan EPoS solution. This development will make the product more cloud-based and allow retailers to use it remotely. It’s a big project and significant investment by the business, but the Re-Scan product really sets us apart from the competition and is a fundamental part of our symbol package, so it’s important. Several other Unitas wholesalers also use our software, so the development will help them grow their EPoS estate, and further help their retailers, too. What is your digital offering? Our transactional website has been industry leading for some years and we have worked with many suppliers’ digital teams to continue to improve it. Work is now ongoing to refresh some of the user interface to keep us at the front of the pack. We’ve also added a fully functioning app, alongside the desktop site, which is mobile friendly with a number of order capture options to suit all retailers/publicans – we need the solution to be as flexible

and customer centric as possible. On top of that, TWC’s SmartView platform also allows us to track product sales through depot into retail and out to the consumer. This is possible because of our Re-Scan product and is available to suppliers to support their distribution goals and mutual sales. How is the business performing overall? Overall, we’re performing very well with great growth this year. However, we are noticing some impact with the cost-of-living crisis, with some customers not always taking advantage of the great deals on offer and taking a cautious approach to purchasing at present. From a category perspective, soft drinks are still big performers and post-Covid there has also been a bigger drive for confectionery, which is up around 20% and


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distribute their products, and we supply 400 venues overall now in the on-trade, and have become a respected player in the local area.

that is putting a strain on factories – the big two are certainly challenged for capacity and availability. In terms of alcohol, we’ve seen some decline, particularly in wines and spirits, which are down around 10%. We believe this is down to cost increases and a more health-conscious public. What is the latest with your on-trade business?

Our on-trade customers are holding up and it feels easier to grow that sector compared with retail, at the moment. For our largest customer, we work with Molson Coors in a porterage agreement where we consolidate deliveries with packaged products. It shows how much we’ve grown in the 15 years since we entered the on-trade to now be trusted by the likes of Molson Coors to

Do you have any growth plans? We certainly don’t have plans to open any new depots. We opened Hull in 2017 because we were doing 3.5 million cases out of our Grimsby premises, which was at capacity, so it allowed us to balance our deliveries out between the two depots, and grow our footprint. We continue to focus on developing our on-trade business through customer acquisition and improved competitive product offer. Development of our symbol estate remains key in retail with a focus on recruiting great retailers who want excellent service and support for their business. What are the biggest challenges facing the industry? Input costs continue to be a chal-

lenge, though energy is currently manageable. The labour market remains tight, and recruitment is a challenge, particularly for us in the summer where we have significant seasonal demand that needs manpower flexibility to service. Further increases next year in the National Minimum Wage are, of course, needed, but remain a challenge to absorb if prices cannot move up in the market to help spread the load. What gives the company its USP? I think we’re in a great position in that we’re small enough to be adaptable, but big enough to operate with some scale. We’re also uniquely positioned with our own EPoS solution, which is a real benefit to us and our symbol customers, plus a hybrid model that serves the on-trade and retail channels through a cash and carry and delivered service. l


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Interview: FareShare FareShare’s commercial manager updates Paul Hill on the company’s work in the channel and how wholesalers can get involved

Hilary Nithsdale

PH: How does the FareShare business model work? HN: FareShare is the UK’s biggest charity fighting hunger and food waste. We work with all parts of the food industry to take good-to-eat surplus food, which might otherwise go to waste, and redistribute it through our network of 34 regional centres to 8,500 charities and community groups nationwide. These charities help tackle the root causes of poverty through after-school and breakfast clubs, homelessness charities, domestic violence shelters and older people’s lunch clubs. They offer vital wraparound services to help tackle issues including mental health, loneliness, debt, unemployment and homelessness. The cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on people already struggling to make ends meet, with 90% of charities

reporting increased demand for their services in the past year. FareShare turns the environmental problem of food waste into a social good by ensuring no edible food goes to waste, working with partners across the food industry to support their sustainability goals. Surplus in the food industry occurs for a variety of reasons, including packaging errors, incorrect labelling, short date coding, seasonal stocks, discontinued lines, incorrect forecasting and quality rejections. FareShare has the flexibility to accept a huge variety of surplus food, including ambient, chilled, fresh and frozen produce, as well as retail and catering sizes and mixed pallets. Tell us about your latest partnerships with wholesalers? Since the beginning of this year, we have been fortunate to attend around 20 industry events, which has enabled us to engage with new and potential food partners. One of the most significant benefits of attending these events has been the many opportunities to forge new partnerships with independent wholesalers, starting meaningful conversations with new contacts and building awareness of FareShare’s work. We have also had many opportunities to present at specific buying group events, which enable efficient access to potential

new partners. The chance to meet independent wholesalers at these forums means we can spread the word about FareShare and be part of important discussions around sustainability and food waste. We look forward to attending more events in the coming year and building more relationships. What do wholesalers need to do if they want to get involved? FareShare’s dedicated food team works closely with each wholesaler to find the most cost- and time-effective ways in which to to redistribute their surplus. FareShare offers comprehensive national solutions for larger amounts, which can be distributed across our network of regional warehouses and on to charities up and down the UK – from Inverness to Penzance – using national logistics partners. For smaller, independent partners, we can arrange collection and delivery to their nearest regional centre in one of our multi-temperature vans. Thanks to its network, FareShare has the flexibility to respond quickly and efficiently to any short-life food offers. Giving your surplus food to FareShare is very easy. Simply visit and fill in some information about the food you have available. We need to know a few details, such as the quantity/size of the product; the type of product –

fresh, frozen, chilled, ambient, mixed – and dates; and your location. Then we can usually arrange to have it picked up within 48 hours. Food safety, full traceability and compliance are at the heart of the FareShare operating model. We operate to exactly the same standards as the rest of the food and drink industry, so you can be certain your food will be looked after. To speak to someone about solutions for redistributing your surplus food, please contact


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responsibilities, with businesses driving towards zero waste and, crucially, zero landfill. While many may opt to send waste to anaerobic digestion or to animal feed, FareShare wants to encourage the industry to look at ways to move surplus up the food chain and embrace the benefits of redistributing edible food to people who need it. Businesses must take into consideration the costs associated with improving sustainability practices, but many are still not aware that FareShare can collect and redistribute surplus food for free – making it a cost-effective solution with a huge social benefit. Have you noticed a change in sustainable thinking across the supply chain over the past twoto-three years? The last three years have been enormously challenging for all parts of the food industry. In the convenience and foodservice wholesale sectors, the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis has meant forecasting has become increasingly difficult as consumer habits have fluctuated. The foodservice sector’s post-pandemic recovery has been hampered by the cost-of-living

crisis. Eating out is increasingly seen as a luxury, and trends are becoming harder to predict. Food-to-home services that became popular during the pandemic have filled a gap for consumers who like to treat themselves, but prefer to avoid the expense of a restaurant meal. Similarly, the growing popularity of eating at home has caused the convenience sector to experience a slight uplift. Alongside the impact of these challenges, across the industry there is an ever-growing awareness of social and moral

What changes does the wholesale industry need to do to its operations to reduce food waste? Does it differ between convenience and foodservice wholesalers? One key operational improvement that could be made by both convenience and foodservice wholesalers would be to encourage better forward selling of seasonal produce. This would enable wholesalers to plan more efficiently and reduce the risk of being left with surplus stock at the end of a season. Convenience wholesalers could try to work more closely

with sales account managers to forecast demand and effectively pre-sell seasonal products. They could also consider working with manufacturers to make sure they do not go over stock without having established a suitable route to market for discontinued lines. Best-before end dates for fresh and chilled produce often cause difficulties for wholesalers, so one solution could be to consider scheduling more frequent deliveries of these products – in and out – to ensure better dates and reduce the potential for excessive waste. Foodservice wholesalers tend to require a more fluid operation, but greater awareness of seasonal menu changes and deadlines could be key to them reducing waste. Attending industry roadshows to gain better understanding of the market and ordering early wherever possible would decrease the chance of getting caught out with excess stock. There are many operational changes that could be made when it comes to reducing waste, but there will always good-to-eat surplus food within the industry. By working with FareShare, wholesalers can be sure that their surplus is going to people that need it and making a huge difference to communities across the UK. l


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Interview: Turner Price Paul Hill chats to the buying director of Hull-based Country Range Group member Turner Price

Craig Andrews

PH: Tell us about the history of the business and who it supplies CA: We are a family-owned delivered food wholesaler based in Hull, and have been trading since 1992. We pride ourselves on our customer service, and now have more than 2,500 customers trading on a weekly basis, throughout Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, County Durham and Northumberland. We offer a comprehensive foodservice range of more than 8,500 products across all categories, and our foodservice sales are evenly split between the cost sector (education and care) and profit sector (takeaways, cafés, restaurants and so on). On top of this, we are unique in that we also have a complementary offshore ship supplies and global export divisions. For the

latter, we are proud to have become one of the leaders in the export of British goods all over the world, including the Caribbean, Antarctic, USA, Canada, South America, South Africa, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Far East, Middle East and mainland Europe. Not many British food export wholesalers supply all seven continents of the world. What work has the company done to improve its sustainability credentials? We are proud to be working with sustainability consultancy Climate Partner, which helps us understand our environmental impact across the business and track our progress as we implement positive changes. In recent years, we have continued to invest in a cleaner fleet of heavy goods vehicles to limit the impact on the environment and have changed our company car policy so that all new cars are either hybrid or electric. We have also installed solar panels across our site in Hull and continue to drive energy efficiencies, particularly in our temperature-controlled product areas. Across our operations, we have implemented key processors to ensure we manage food, oil, plastic and general waste, and continue to increase our recycling strategy to prevent food going in to landfill.

We also recently recruited a product data and sustainability manager. Working in both areas, that role ensures we are in a better position to not only support customers, but make sure, as a business, we’ve got the processes in place to be sustainable. What have been the major recent developments at the company? We recently agreed partnerships with both the HCA and LACA, and our annual trade show will now be taking place twice next year, with an additional show announced in Sheffield. Our plans


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and with that comes challenges for lots of our customers. Tell us about your unique digital proposition A few years ago, we launched what was the very first UK foodservice marketplace, which gave caterers instant access to thousands more items from our supply partners. Although we don’t physically hold marketplace stock, customers can simply add products to their online basket and place orders in the usual way. These products will then be bought-to-order and delivered to our end user, usually within days. The feedback to this new online service has been fantastic, with more than half of our customer base regularly ordering from the marketplace range. This has greatly expanded our product catalogue, especially in categories such as packaging, cheese, meats, snacking, breads and desserts, and our plans are to continue working with our strong portfolio of brands to increase the choice across even more categories. for 2024 are centred around being proactive in the different sectors we support and the wide area we deliver to. We are confident that being partners of the HCA and LACA will increase our exposure and create new opportunities to continue our long success in the education and care home sectors. Do you have any expansion plans for the years ahead? We have gradually expanded and bought warehouses on our current site in Hull, which has increased our capacity. Our plan is to continue to invest in the infrastructure of the business and our people so we are well placed to achieve the growth projections for the coming years. Freezer space continues to be a premium, however, and our current facility, which was commissioned around six years ago and gave us almost three times the freezer space that we had previously, is now almost at

capacity again, so we are having plans drawn up to extend this. We hope to have the build completed and it be fully operational within the next 12 months. How is the business performing financially? We are on track to achieve a total company turnover of £100m for our fiscal year to March 2024, which represents an annual growth rate in excess of 10%. What are the biggest challenges the industry is facing? The cost-of-living crisis continues to affect everyone, and we are no different, so the challenges surrounding range, pricing and product availability while delivering the best service for our customers is at the centre of everything we do as a business. Although we are seeing small signs of deflation coming back into the market, many core commodities are still at historic highs,

What gives your business its USP? We are extremely proud of our fresh offering, all of which is controlled in-house by our experienced on-site team. We employ 10 trained butchers along with a dedicated food-preparation team. We offer a quality range of British meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, and prepared vegetables to our customers, with everything being produced on a daily cycle or made to order. As we have stateof-the-art facilities on site, customers can order prepped produce and fresh meat with their usual order for next-day delivery. Some of our most popular products include our 95VL British mince, sausages made to our bespoke recipe, and prepped quarter cuts made using potatoes sourced locally. Also, in September, we launched a range of allergy-free marinated meats, which has proved a huge success in education and hospitality. l


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Spotlight: Faire Paul Hill talks to the UK general manager of Faire, an online company with a mission to revolutionise wholesale

Charlotte Broadbent

PH: Talk us through the history of the business. What products do you wholesale, and how does it work compared with traditional wholesalers? CB: Faire was set up in 2017 as an online wholesale marketplace connecting independent retailers and brands around the world. Our mission was, and still is, to revolutionise wholesale and help smaller businesses compete with retail giants. We empower local retailers by providing them with easy online access to more than 100,000 unique, quality brands in home decor, gifts, beauty and wellness, jewellery, pets, food and drink, and more, breaking the barriers that once restricted them to local supply chains. Traditionally, the only options for retailers would be to attend trade shows and liaise with sales agents to source and buy stock.

This could prove time consuming and inflexible, as well as lead to major commitments that need to be made with ordering large quantities of stock. Since then, retailers have been hit with a number of new and unprecedented challenges, and there is an increasing need to be agile. By bringing wholesale online and offering financial tools to help small businesses succeed, Faire is helping independent retailers break free from traditional constraints and react to changing market conditions in almost real time. Faire presents a significant alternative to traditional trade shows by offering a digital platform upon which retailers and makers can connect 24/7, which creates a distinct advantage in challenging times. Who are your customers? Our customers are brands and retailers, and are located across the world. We’ve facilitated seven million business relationships between independent retailers and brands on the marketplace, acting as a connector for the small business retail community at a pivotal time. We now serve hundreds of thousands of retailers from 50,000 cities across North America, Europe and Australia, as well as 100,000 brands from more than 150 countries. Focusing on Europe, our customer base here has grown almost

300% year on year (2021-2022), and now, more than 30 million products have been sold from EU brands. In the UK, more than 45,000 independent retailers have used Faire. To put that into perspective, that is four times the number of stores than the four largest supermarket chains combined. What gives your business its USP? What sets Faire apart is that we built the company knowing what the challenges were, and created it to overcome them. Faire helps independents compete with retail giants. Using Faire’s tools, the industry can level the playing field so that independent retailers are no longer at a disadvantage against the bigger chains. There are three key areas in which we achieve this. The first is through access. Independent retailers can access unique products from more than 100,000 brands from around the world, from the comfort of their own homes and without taking time away from their businesses. Faire also uses its scale to help retailers be more successful. With hundreds of thousands of retailers, Faire is powering the largest bricks-and-mortar retailer in the world and it is able to use its size and data to provide recommendations and insight to customers – big retailers have always used this type of data to test merchandise.

Finally, Faire provides the financial tools needed for independent retailers to grow their business. Small businesses are often underbanked and have risky options to fund their businesses. By using Faire, retailers have the option of payment flexibility through credit terms, and security through free returns – a benefit that was previously only available to major retail chains. This eliminates the burden of inventory risk by enabling retailers to buy with confidence in an unpredictable environment. Why do you think there has been a move for consumers shifting from impulse-driven buying towards more valuesbased choices? How big a role does sustainability play in this, and do you have figures to back this up? Consumers are definitely more in tune with how they spend their time, what they’re consuming and what they’re buying. Aside from other factors, sustainability plays a large role in this, and it’s a value that we share at Faire. In a recent Faire survey,


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consumers in the UK told us social good is a key reason to shop independently, with 52% saying it enables them to reduce their carbon footprint or buy more sustainably. This interest is reflected on the Faire platform, with retailers in the UK spending more than nine figures in volume on products that are eco-friendly, women-owned or handmade over the past year. We’ve found the volume of products purchased since 2023 that are eco-friendly, handmade or not available on Amazon has increased almost 400%, and it’s a move we encourage at Faire. We’re proud to work with brands that make it their mission to leave the planet better than they found it and we’re delighted to learn that demand for sustainable products shows no signs of slowing despite the current strain on consumers’ wallets. Between December 2022 and March 2023, searches for ‘eco-friendly’ increased by 55% on Faire, and searches for ‘reusable’ increased by more than 75% between December 2022 and March 2023. The number of or-

ders placed from brands using the eco-friendly value tag increased by 45% between 2021 and 2022. How are smaller businesses using their size to react faster to economic and consumer trends, particularly by using technology that helps them compete? Despite the cost-of-living crisis and other economic headwinds, many consumers still feel committed to supporting independent retail both on and offline. This, combined with the benefits of shopping independent and what we call independent retailers’ ‘superpowers’ – agility, artistry and community – means the opportunity for smaller businesses to thrive is not only there, but it is also extensive. Smaller retailers are naturally more agile and resilient due to their size, but also using technology like Faire enables them to do this even better than before. Looking deeper into the agility aspect, we saw this on Faire during the pandemic when puzzles, masks, pyjamas and DIY kits immediately became top sellers, and more recently blankets, heat-

ers and candles when blackouts threatened Europe. When most retailers experienced supply chain issues, Faire retailers were able to prepare for the festive season earlier than ever last year – buying, on average, three weeks earlier. In the context of economic conditions in Europe, we saw local-to-local market share double in the UK and triple in France, saving money in costs and currency fluctuations. With regard to artistry, we’ve noticed that independent retailers excel at meeting today’s consumer demands, such as personal discovery, values-driven shopping and emotional connection. With 27% of consumers feeling nostalgic and a declining trust in generic online recommendations, this ability is a significant strength for independent retailers. Finally, we’ve seen that community is key. Independent retailers are the original influencers and trendsetters of their communities. They have personal relationships with their customers, and curate shopping experiences specifically with their interests in mind. Nearly 25% of retailers on Faire now use their storefront as a retail shop and community hub. Examples of this include candle-making workshops in artisan decor boutiques and support groups in gift stores. Independent retail creates a sense of place, identity and economic relevance. You can visit any major chain in the world, and have no idea where you are. When you visit an independent retailer in Edinburgh, Scotland, or Lyon, France, you immediately get a good sense of place and what matters to that community. Independent retail remains a firm choice, and technology plays a huge part in ensuring this not only continues, but also increases its longevity. Digitalisation is crucial in keeping bricks-and-mortar stores agile and resilient during difficult economic times. In fact, we’ve found that 60% of retailers have

reported that their business is thriving since embracing digital operations. Faire uses technology not only to enable independents to be cost-effective for the first time, but also, though using its scales, to help retailers become more successful, and to provide the financial tools needed to grow their businesses. How are independent retailers across Europe continuing their post-lockdown recovery while many major retailers struggle to get back on track due to supply chain, inflation and economic challenges? There is no denying it’s tough out there, but independent retailers across Europe are continuing their post-lockdown recovery, while many major retailers are struggling to get back on track. If we look specifically at the possible threat of supply-chain, inflation and current economic issues, we know big box retailers cancelled billions of dollars in orders in 2022, whereas Faire retailers were able to take advantage of low minimum-order values and fill inventory gaps. They placed at least one order each week in Europe and the US. Major retailers also continue to close across the US and Europe, and are at risk of losing as many as 9,000 sites in 2023. However, the number of independent retailers that have used Faire to grow their business in the UK has grown to 45,000. Of course, all retailers faced the threat of Covid-19, but we saw that, prior to the pandemic, fewer than 20% of Faire retailers had online stores. Now, nearly all Faire retailers have their own online sales channels. By using Faire, retailers are increasing their ability to monitor data and trends, eliminate costs from the traditional ways of doing business and are more free to focus on more valuable work. Through this, we can level the playing field for high-street retailers here in Europe and around the world. l


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REPORT Insight: How the SWA is helping to decarbonise the wholesale channel Paul Hill


he Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has set out ambitious plans to reach net zero by 2040, in time for Scotland’s net-zero target of 2045, in a new report, ‘Decarbonising the Scottish Wholesale Sector’, which explores the sector’s carbon emissions and attitudes to climate action. SWA’s report launched alongside the UK Wholesale Sector Net Zero Roadmap, developed in collaboration with FWD (Federation of Wholesale Distributors), and was unveiled at the FWD conference earlier this year. Nine months in the making, the project highlights how the Scottish wholesale sector is stepping up to the challenges presented by climate change and joining the UK-wide sector ambition of reaching net zero by 2040. The UK Wholesale Sector Net Zero Roadmap consists of three key elements: a calculation of carbon emissions from the wholesale sector; a bespoke carbon calculator tool free for all SWA and FWD members to use in order understand their own emissions; and a comprehensive step-by-step climate action guide to help wholesalers reduce carbon and ultimately reach net-zero targets. The report reveals that the UK wholesale value chain (which consists of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and foodservice


Electricity (tCO2e) 17.7%

Building fuel use 8.6%

Refrigerant leaks 6.5%

LGVs and cars 3.4% outlets) was responsible for producing 18 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2021. However, across the UK, wholesalers are only directly responsible for approximately 4% of these in the operation of their businesses (referred to as Scope 1 & 2 emissions), with the majority in the chain upstream from manufacturers and suppliers (referred to as Scope 3 emissions). This highlights the critical need to work together across the food and drink supply chain to reduce climate change emissions. The ‘Decarbonising the Scottish Wholesale Sector’ report

highlights the carbon emissions from Scotland’s wholesale sector, the motivations, and barriers to taking action on climate change, and the support needed in order for the sector to be able to achieve net-zero emissions. Comparing the results of the Scottish wholesale emissions analysis with that of the UK-wide wholesale sector shows that, overall, the profile of emissions for UK-wide and Scottish wholesalers are similar. The majority of Scope 1 emissions for Scottish wholesalers are from vehicle fleets, which aligns with the wider UK emissions

HGVs (tCO2e) 63.8% analysis. However, Scottish vehicle emissions are a slightly higher proportion of Scope 1 emissions. It further shows that there are differences in emissions for different sizes of wholesalers, with vehicle emissions accounting for a higher proportion of emissions from SMEs. The SWA research for north of the border identifies key sources of operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the sector as road transport, particularly HGVs, at 63.8% followed by electricity at 17.7%, refrigerants at 6.5%, then use of fuel to heat buildings at 8.6%.


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Value chain Renewables Buildings Refrigerants Logistics



Insufficient infrastructure

Poor return on investment



Lack of technology availability

Not practical to implement

Lack of government support

Lack of influence/ control Lack of understanding of options It is clear that the Scottish picture reinforces the importance of addressing logistics emissions in order to reach net zero. While outlining the actions wholesalers need to take in order to decarbonise their operations and value chains, SWA asks the Scottish government for capital cost support for a swift vehicle fleet transition, investment in zero-emission transport infra-

structure and support for a rapid transition to renewable electricity. Colin Smith, SWA chief executive, said: “The SWA and our members are sector leads in decarbonising our fleet emissions within Scotland’s food and drink supply chain. “In this report, we outline the primary sources of operational GHG emissions within our sector. We also highlight by region and

business size the key motivations for member action, the barriers that we must overcome and, crucially, the support needed if we are to make decarbonisation of the wholesale sector a reality by 2040 – our net-zero ambition as a sector across the UK – and in time for Scotland’s net-zero target by 2045. “This report is an important step on our sustainability journey,

Sources: ‘Decarbonising the Scottish Wholesale Sector’ report


during which the SWA will work hard to drive a just transition to a net-zero economy that can benefit all of Scotland’s wholesale sector. “While the report shows that wholesalers, overwhelmingly, are willing to take action to achieve a just transition to net zero, the upfront capital investment required is the key barrier, which is why that is one of our key policy asks of government.” l


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Opinion: There’s more than one way to be sustainable, it’s just knowing how Rob Mannion is the chief executive of


t’s not easy being green, especially if you’re a wholesaler. Everyone knows the importance of being more environmentally friendly, but as everyone in the sector regularly points out, the gap between wholesalers wanting to be more sustainable and delivering on that ambition can be stark. After all, wholesalers are middlemen in the supply chain and therefore at the behest of both suppliers and their customers, so efficiencies can often only be marginal in different areas of their business. Working within those constraints means wholesalers need to be more creative to hit the necessary targets and to be looking in areas that aren’t naturally considered bedfellows of sustainability, such as digital. It’s one of the less-expected impacts of non-warehouse tech that it can have a positive effect on a business’s carbon footprint, but it’s not uncommon that we receive that feedback from customers after using it for a while. Most recently, that’s one of the big things we’ve heard from users of our B2B WhatsApp solution. Several of the wholesalers that have adopted the technology have used the power of engagement their new channels provide to cut down on the amount of print communications they produce and send out. Printed mailers showing off the latest deals and weighty product catalogues have been mainstays in a wholesaler’s business for as

long as most of us can remember. But with a focus on the resources being used to maintain that – not to mention the cost of doing it – alternatives are being sought. B2B WhatsApp has provided that in a way email or SMS hasn’t been able to previously because it’s possible to guarantee the promotion leaflet has been sent and, in many cases, read. The level of engagement is much higher, too, meaning the number of printed materials can be cut. One wholesaler has decided to remove all printed communications from its business. It’s doing this using a combination of WhatsApp and our B2B e-commerce solution, which is

regularly updated to ensure product lines and prices are always up-to-date and can be shared as a reference point to replace catalogues. It’s simple, but highly effective – although not everyone is doing it. Online ordering is another important tool to reduce the carbon footprint associated with your company. Not only does it improve workflow in the business, but it allows customers to streamline their visits to depots – reducing trips to once-weekly big shops instead of regular pick-ups. Some wholesalers have used the flow of regular orders into their business to make more efficient route plans for deliveries to re-

duce road miles, and introduced backhauling to bring recyclable materials back to their depot to cut waste. Efficiency breeds efficiency and it’s a trend that will continue as the focus on sustainability increases. A lot of our solutions are inspired by the need to simplify processes, save time or money and to tackle pain points wholesalers or their customers feel. The knock-on effect can often be saving on various resources, which is key when it comes to being more sustainable. If that can help wholesalers achieve their sustainability aims, then perhaps we can make it a little bit easier to be green. l


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Visual Purposes only. Subject to availability. Max 1 kit per outlet. NPN. Registration& email address required. Visit for Terms and Details. Promoter: Britvic Soft Drinks

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Foodservice Focus – roundup Paul Hill takes a look at the latest developments, new products and operational changes in the foodservice wholesale market


he foodservice market continues to transform itself on a level never seen before, with innovative recipes and several product deals, as well as unique wholesale operational projects, all taking place over the past few months. Sustainability The latter more than applies to Savona Foodservice, after the wholesaler conducted a complete

analysis of its carbon emissions through a partnership with a sustainability consultancy to completely revamp its operations in a bid to achieve net zero. “We have received the results of our carbon emissions from 2019 and 2022, with overall emissions reduced by 26% across our group of three sites, cooling emissions increased by 61%, electricity emissions

decreased by 87% and vehicle emissions decreased by 17%,” explained group marketing manager Jenny Squire. “We have not simply jumped on the sustainability bandwagon. The environment has been a passion of ours for some time,” she added. “Back in 2018, we were the first wholesaler in the south to eliminate single-use plastics from our range and were

forward-thinking in sourcing alternative suppliers and brands. By introducing items such as packaging made from seaweed, paper straws, plant-based takeaway products and eco-conscious brands, we empower our customers, and their customers, to confidently refuse single-use plastic products. Effortless convenience for the caterer.” Food ingredients supplier Silbury is also focused on sustainability and recently recruited

Central Foods believes vegan and plant-based are two of the fastest-growing categories


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RN 1/2

Rob Bailey as the company’s first sustainability manager with the focus now on further developing its ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) plan. Silbury, which has been working on a brand-new range of pasta sauces over the past 12 months, has been working closely with its customers to understand their sustainable needs. “As part of our ESG plan, we are focused on how we can support our customers in reducing their food wastage. Our new range of pasta sauces are packed in 1.5kg pouches for this very reason. They also require 20% less storage space compared with traditional cans and are easy to open,” explained marketing manager Louise Deleon. Meanwhile, Alexandre Mattos, the head of sales and operations – UK/ROI at Seara, stressed the importance of wholesalers to the supplier, which recently launched a multi-formated chicken range

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Savona Foodservice has expanded its sustainability offering

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Florette has entered into foodservice with its salad range gaining a listing with Bidfood

into the foodservice channel. He said: “Wholesalers are an integral part of our sales process. We work in partnership with wholesalers to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers and consumers, and we educate our wholesalers on the products Seara has to offer.” Elsewhere, wholesaler HB Drinks has agreed a deal with Danish premium pre-mixed and organic cocktail brand Nohrlund to supply its organic cocktails in a 20l keg format to hospitality venues. Nohrlund claims it is enabling foodservice outlets to offer high-quality cocktails on draught with an average serving time for a Nohrlund draught cocktail being eight seconds, as opposed to a wait time of one-to-three minutes for a from-scratch cocktail. Francesca Sabin, trading director at HB Clark, said: “The taste profile was the door opener. We were looking for a quality, consistent product with good solid support behind the brand. We are looking forward to working with the team from Nohrlund and offering our customers something that will deliver on

speed while ensuring the perfect cocktail serve.” Trends While the alcohol market remains a consistent earner for foodservice wholesalers, vegan and plant-based food has quickly become one of the fastest-growing

appeal to meat-reducers as well as plant-based diners. This helps to avoid menu proliferation and is a good way for foodservice customers to overcome some of the challenges that the catering sector is currently facing, especially issues like staff shortages.” Salad supplier Florette, mean-

We have not simply jumped on the sustainability bandwagon. The environment has been a passion of ours for some time

categories in the industry. That is according to Gordon Lauder, managing director of frozen food distributor Central Foods. “As a key foodservice distributor, Central Foods has noticed a big increase in demand for vegan and vegetarian items, and we’ve extended our range of plant-based options for the foodservice sector to cater for this – making sure these dishes and ingredients will

recent years, with Gwyn Jones, head of commercial for Florette Foodservice, claiming that the products tick all the boxes. “Florette Foodservice customers will benefit from consumers’ awareness, understanding and recognition of the Florette brand in retail. Known for our freshness guarantee, we sell more than 27 million packs of Florette to consumers in the UK each year.

while, is another company able to cater for a plant-based diet, and the company recently entered the foodservice wholesale channel through deals with wholesalers Bidfood and Oliver Kay Produce. Its new branded range is claimed to help wholesalers, caterers and foodservice operators of all sizes overcome the availability and quality issues that the industry has faced over


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Central Foods’ vegan-mince lasagne

Backed by the power of the UK’s bestselling salad brand, and the quality assurance from sustainability accreditation Agrial, our foodservice customers can be assured that a supply of fresh salads, coleslaws and vegetables is maintained all year round.” NPD Back into the meats sector,

Sigma, claimed to be the largest charcuterie producer in Europe, recently launched a new brand of gourmet authentic cured meat snacks into the foodservice sector. The Mad Butcher is targeting meat snacking in pubs following research that it has grown by 38% since 2020, making it the fastest-growing food and drink category in the UK that is set to be worth £454m by 2027.

Newby Groves, managing director at Sigma UK & Ireland, said: “There is a huge opportunity to add category value and growth to the already dynamic snacking category. By innovating further, we have created a premium brand of gourmet, shareable meat snacks that fulfil consumer needs. As the largest charcuterie producer in Europe, we are experts in premium, quality cured meats and are best placed to enter the

Seara recently launched a multi-format chicken range into foodservice

meat snacking market.” Elsewhere, Creed Foodservice has launched a curry pot solution as part of its Kitchen ’72 all-inone meal portfolio. This includes a range of bespoke scratch-made curry sauces that have been designed to be packed up in one takeaway box. One last piece of NPD in the foodservice sector comes from cheese supplier Extons. This is a brand that started life in 2000 when the founder made the decision to purchase a small cheese delivery round, delivering to local shops and cafés around Stockport. The business now boasts four production lines and is one of the UK’s largest independent supplier of sliced and grated cheese, and recently signed off a £4m investment to extend the current premises and add a secondary grating line, with the business also forecasted to turnover £100m in 2023. l


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Five ways wholesalers are incorporating sustainable practices into their operations and business decisions Charles Smith Charles Smith is a journalist with experience writing for the UK's grocery and foodservice wholesale industry

1. Managing food waste

Wholesalers are increasingly taking a robust, creative approach to managing food waste. Creating new procedures and partnerships enables more effective donations to local community groups and food banks, with zero-food-waste and charity champions working together to make products available to partners when they are within two days of their shelf lives. Using warehouse management systems to facilitate inventory visibility highlights potential issues like short-dated lines, establishing a ‘first-in, first-out’ rule with the oldest perishables removed first. Better stretchable-wrap machines not only reduce plastic usage and handling time, but they also minimise product damage and hence food waste. Wholesalers may not have manufacturers’ power to change how products are made, or retailers’ ability to incentivise customers, but they can control supply chains. Membership of WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap is also enabling wholesalers to share and learn from best practice across the food industry, and report progress.

2. Through recycling procedures

The same methodical approach is also transforming wholesalers’ wider recycling. Closed-loop processes for recycling cardboard and plastic at depots mean these materials are reused, and nothing goes to landfill. Reducing pallet-wrap thickness reduces the amount used per product packed, while four-sided cages require zero pallet wrap. Putting recycling bins in easily accessible areas in offices and warehouses and encouraging staff to use them, meaning bottles, cartons, magazines, and items such as pens, coffee capsules and plastic gloves, can all be recycled. Protecting products during shipping with shrink wrap made from recycled polymers helps remove tonnes of raw material from supply chains. Partnering with ethical brands with bigger purposes, and sourcing greener goods, whether they are from brands with fully recyclable packaging or are products made with only natural ingredients, helps wholesalers offer product portfolios that meet the growing shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainable alternatives.


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4. Placing a focus on social issues

Prioritising diversity and inclusion starts at the top, with management commitment and active listening. Supporting team members’ health and well-being contributes positively to productivity, while customers benefit from more motivated frontline staff. Appointing mental-health first-aiders and engaging with support organisations, such as GroceryAid, means there’s always someone there when staff are struggling. Creating a guide with everything in one place helps employees find the right resources, while regular well-being surveys ensure the system continues to deliver. Establishing equal-opportunities and dignity-at-work policies and training managers in equality, diversity and inclusivity helps increase equity and prevent employees being subjected to unacceptable workplace behaviour. Promoting equal opportunities also involves celebrating differences throughout the year, along with people’s unique experiences. Charity work helps local communities, and gives volunteers an increased sense of fulfilment, through things like charity football tournaments, volunteering at foodbanks and speaking at university careers fairs.

5. Making better use of transport

Image credit: Getty Images/Bangon Pitipong

3. Innovative use of energy

Wholesalers are becoming increasingly expert at conserving energy. Energy-efficient doors, LED lighting, motion detectors and solar panels are reducing carbon footprints and are generating cost savings. One wholesaler has cut its gas consumption by 98%, while energyefficient doors have saved another one £15,000. Solar panels have reduced one business’s daytime energy rates from 72p to 16.5p per unit. Another reckons the solar panels on five of its sites could generate 20% of its electricity needs, saving £600,000 annually. Electric forklifts are creating safer work environments and lowering carbon emissions, while video calling is enabling wholesalers to connect with overseas customers without travelling. Hybrid-working office staff spend less time commuting, further reducing carbon emissions. Sending out digital brochures and marketing material and sharing documents electronically reduces dependency on paper-based copies. Looking ahead, replacing refrigerants with high Global Warming Potential with CO2 features in several wholesalers’ plans.

Wholesalers’ current transport sustainability measures include shortening travel routes, implementing backhauling solutions, planning efficient loads, and delivering and collecting multiple orders simultaneously. This helps prevent wasted journeys and fuel, reducing carbon emissions and environmental damage. Offering alternative routes to market for residual stock and implementing more thoughtful logistics throughout the supply chain can reduce emissions by more than 30% annually. Loading vehicles in the mornings means one wholesaler only uses its warehouse refrigeration overnight. Monitoring its fleet’s fuel consumption, precise mileage tracking and streamlined maintenance planning saves another £10,000 annually. Paperless vehicle checks and driver debriefs, and eliminating delivery paperwork further improve productivity. One wholesaler has moved to electric HGVs and business cars, and implemented staff initiatives including cycle to work schemes, car share and support to use public transport. Another wholesaler is working with a local university to explore cleaning engines with hydrogen to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. l

With thanks to: Julie Owst, head of sustainability and change, Bidfood Tom Mathew, commercial director, Dunsters Farm Simon Hannah, chief executive, JW Filshill Jamie Ferguson, head of marketing, Parfetts Mark Lythe, joint managing director, Pricecheck


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Confectionery Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski


ccording to analyst Circana, value sales in confectionery grew by 3.6% last year, underlining the importance of this category to wholesalers in a tough economic climate. With the festive season maintaining its important place in the confectionery calendar, it’s unsurprising that suppliers therefore continue to invest in limitededitions, innovative new flavours and festive-themed formats. For 2023, Mars Wrigley is launching a new Maltesers Christmas Mix, bringing together Maltesers Reindeers, Mini Reindeers, Mint Reindeers and Teasers into one sharing format. “By bringing back successful launches of Christmases past, combined with a sprinkling of innovative NPD, Mars Wrigley is once again providing wholesalers with the opportunity to boost their Christmas offering and maximise their sales during what is the most commercially important time of the year,” says Cybi Capaldi, senior brand manager for Christmas at Mars Wrigley. And Mars Wrigley isn’t alone. “We are trialling a different shape for two of our sweets this Christmas season,” says Jemma Handley, senior brand manager for Quality Street at Nestlé. “We know how iconic Quality Street sweets are and we have made sure that it is the same great-tasting Purple One and Orange Crunch that people know and love inside their coloured wrappers.” Other new arrivals for Nestlé include Rowntree’s Randoms Festives, which are wrapped in winter wonderland-themed packaging, featuring festive and random jelly shapes.

SUPPLIER VIEWPOINT Susan Nash Trade communications manager, Mondelez International

“Milk chocolate is the most consumed kind of chocolate in the world, but white chocolate continues to perform strongly. In fact, in the UK, the white block chocolate market is worth £48m and grew by nearly 6.5% last year. “Mondelez International has a range that taps into this trend, offering shoppers the products they want in exciting new formats, including the Cadbury White 180g tablet, Cadbury White Fingers 114g pack, Cadbury Oreo White 120g and Cadbury White Buttons 110g bag. “This year, we also introduced Cadbury White Creme Egg. This was the first-ever product

innovation for the Creme Egg brand and created a large amount of excitement from shoppers in the lead up to the Easter season. The combination of a big brand like Creme Egg, coupled with a white chocolate innovation, really got shoppers excited. “As well as this, we’ve been innovating within caramelised white chocolate, too. Cadbury Caramilk was a hit with shoppers when it initially launched and last April we expanded the Caramilk range to offer shoppers the beautifully-crafted golden caramel chocolate in Buttons format, too – perfect for sharing occasions with friends and family.”

Smarties Candy Cane Giant Tube, meanwhile, contains a “special mix of red and white milk chocolate Smarties”, which sits alongside Aero Candy Cane Bubbles with an aerated vanilla flavour centre, and a half red and half white shell. The US invasion The confectionery market continues to be dominated by a number of key trends and one of the most significant is the rise of US confectionery brands. “The growth in US confectionery has happened very quickly. Major brands such as Nerds, Warheads, Dubble Bubble, Sour Punch, Red Vines and Tootsie are now commonplace in the UK,” says Helen Bradshaw, sales and marketing director at World of Sweets. According to Bradshaw, American confectionery is now a multimillion-pound category in double-digit growth, with this


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SECTOR REVIEW CONFECTIONERY growth rate expected to continue as more independent retailers, supermarkets and high-street stores wake up to the opportunity. World of Sweets has exclusive distribution rights for a number of America’s biggest confectionery names and Bradshaw says her company’s expertise can give wholesalers confidence

that its range meets the standards required by UK authorities, including rules on labelling and ingredients. “Our in-house technical team reviews the back of all packs, checking additives and ensuring they’re fully compliant with UK regulations. There are certain additives and food colourings in

US confectionery that are banned in the UK. As a major confectionery distributor, we have exclusive partnerships with many big US brands, and ensuring the confectionery and the labelling is compliant is key to our offering.” Retro sweets As Christmas nears, consumers focus on family traditions and this provides an opportunity for wholesalers to capitalise on a further category trend – retro sweets. “We all get nostalgic over the sweets we remember from our childhood, and that’s why many of them are still around and are still popular decades later,” says Kathryn Hague, head of marketing for Hancocks. “Our favourite childhood sweets take us all back to years gone by and could almost be seen as a little bit of gentle escapism. It’s also nice

for adult shoppers to introduce their children or grandchildren to the sweets which they remember from their own childhood.” Nostalgic sweets available through Hancocks this festive season include classics Kingsway Pear Drops, Midget Gums, Wine Gums and Flying Saucers. Other products which, the company says, will help consumers think back to decades past include Hannah’s Pink and White Mice and Hannah’s Jazzies. The success of these trends highlights consumers’ growing demand for products that provide new experiences and it’s a message also being heard by major suppliers. Meanwhile, as the winter cold sets in, Jakemans is offering a form of confectionery that also helps to fight off any illnesses. Priding itself on being the number-one bagged brand


Kingsway Pear Drops – These traditional fruit-flavoured boiled sweets come in a bulk bag and can be added to an existing pick ‘n’ mix range or sold from a traditional sweet-shop jar.

Quality Street The Purple One Bags – A new shape for The Purple One sweet will appear in a limited number of The Purple One Bags. Nestlé will also trial a new Orange Crunch shape.

Cadbury Caramilk and Darkmilk – This year, Mondelez built on the success of its Darkmilk and Caramilk ranges with the launch of two new tablets: Darkmilk Praline and Caramilk Crispy.

Werther’s Original Salted Caramel Cream Soft Caramels – Storck says its brand is out-performing the category, with strong value and volume growth. More arrivals are expected next year.

Nerds – The popularity of US confectionery – including brands such as Nerds and Tootsies – has been growing quickly since the pandemic, according to distributor World of Sweets.

Love Hearts and Drumstick Mini Chew Bars Gift Drums – These new gifting formats from Swizzels join returning festive products including Sweet Shop Favourites Pouches.


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, oooh you really

Contains milk, white and dark chocolate!

should have


Truffle SKU in value sales*

Stock up now on the creamiest, crunchiest,

truffliest treats this Christmas *NielsenIQ Scantrak data to 21 WE 24.12.22

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© 2023 Mars or Affiliates.

23/08/2023 12:09


within medicated confectionery, Jakemans’ classic flavours of Throat & Chest, Honey & Lemon, Cherry, Peppermint, Menthol & Eucalyptus, Blackcurrant and Blueberry will now be available in a smaller 73g format. For many consumers, Cadbury Buttons holds an important place in their childhood memories, and Mondelez International has launched a new Cadbury Buttons Selection Box this year. Each box contains four different flavoured bags, including Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons, Cadbury Dairy Milk Orange Buttons, Cadbury Dairy Milk Salted Caramel Nibbles and Caramilk Buttons. Meanwhile, this year, Nestlé is launching the After Eight Winter Fondant bag comprising mint fondant sweets in the shape of iconic London landmarks. After Eight Gin & Tonic & Mint, meanwhile – featuring dark chocolate and a gin & tonic-flavoured mint fondant – is once again returning. “The After Eight Winter Fondant bag is made up of individually-wrapped chocolates that bring to life our quirky British Heritage,” says Debbie Bowen, senior brand manager for After Eight at Nestlé. While minds are focused on

festive displays and Christmasthemed formats, it should also be emphasised that the challenging context in which wholesalers are operating will continue after the December sales peak. “As shoppers navigate the costof-living crisis, shopping habits will continue to change,” says Andy Mutton, managing director at Storck UK. “Consumers are looking to make their money stretch as far as possible. “However, they will continue to look to treat themselves. We expect to see shoppers switch from more expensive purchases to treating themselves to smaller indulgences.” PMPs Mutton says he also expects PMPs continue to play a strong role within the category, offering the reassurance of value to shoppers, which, in turn, creates confidence in local retailers and how they price their products. “PMP products account for more than 30% of total sugar value sales in convenience, worth £173m at retail and growing by 13.2% in value,” he says. It’s further evidence that wholesalers will need to be responsive to consumer trends in 2024 and provide to support to retailers to unlock category growth.

TAKEAWAY POINTS 1. Suppliers are working hard for the category – A look across the roster of new products arriving on shelves this year highlights the effort that suppliers are putting in to helping wholesalers capitalise on the annual Christmas sales peak. Gift and sharing formats sit side by side with self-treat products to ensure that consumers have the right product to suit their need, budget and taste. Nestlé’s Smarties Candy Cane Giant Tube and Aero Candy Cane Bubbles, and Mars’ Maltesers Christmas Mix, for example, are among some of the new arrivals marrying popular brands with product innovation. 2. Trends offer longer-term opportunities – Nostalgia and US sweets are two trends that have remained strong – and are growing – in 2023. The opportunities that these ranges provide will help wholesalers and retailers make the most of the festive period, but exist all year round, providing a blueprint on how to add sales and margin into 2024. Helen Bradshaw, sales and marketing director at World of Sweets, says her company’s strong position makes it a perfect partner for wholesalers wanting to stock these imported lines: “As a major confectionery distributor, we have exclusive partnerships with many big US brands, and ensuring the confectionery and the labelling is compliant is key to our offering.” 3. The cost-of-living crisis is still here – While many families have a break from worrying about their everyday spending in December, budgets are still tight, and consumers are looking for deals wherever they can get them. Andy Mutton, at Storck, says PMPs remain an essential component for any range building and are a crucial tool to build consumer confidence. Whatever happens in the economy over the next six months, it seems certain that this trend will continue. l


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Hot beverages & cold brews Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski


ith changing trends, regular innovation and a rising expectation of quality from consumers, the hot drinks and cold brews market represents a microcosm of what’s going on across the convenience sector. Take premiumisation: according to TWC data, instant coffee remains – at 87% market share – the engine of sales and profit in the coffee category, yet it is also the only segment that is declining (down 3.1%). Filter and ground coffee, meanwhile, represents just 9% of the market, but is growing at a healthy 6%. There’s also been a notable increase in attempting to recreate coffee-shop culture in the home, with 65.1% of consumers now looking for coffee-shop-quality drinks, according to Juliette McConnell, demand accelerator controller at Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE). “Consumers are trading up on their weekly shop with products that allow them to easily recreate their favourite coffee-shop experiences. “This trend is being proven through the immense growth within the specialities and mixes segment,” she said. McConnell adds that JDE has seen an increase in spend in June 2023 versus June 2022 on soluble specialities, gaining greater penetration than any other segment in the past six years, with the segment now worth over £215m. “What’s more, these products are also key to recruiting a younger shopper and expanding

the popularity within the coffee category,” she adds. Market challenges The challenge in 2023, therefore, has been a market in flux with long-term trends gradually shifting sales towards premium filter coffee brands, but with a still-mighty instant coffee market delivering the volume of sales on which wholesalers rely. Product launches such as Nescafé Gold Golden Honeycomb Aero and Nescafé Gold Dairy Alternative are designed to marry the best of both worlds, delivering a coffee shop-standard experience with the simplicity of a ‘just add water’ format. “The Nescafé Gold Frothy Coffee and Aero collaboration combines the products we know our fans love, quality frothy coffee and a delicious golden honeycomb flavour chocolate,” says Mia Beverley, Nescafé Gold Frothy Coffee brand manager. Furthermore, we may be more than three years past the arrival of the first lockdown, but the impact on our changing work

SUPPLIER VIEWPOINT Cecilia Farr Beverages brand manager, Nestlé Professional

“Our food, beverage and nutrition experts at Nestlé are available to help and support our customers, including wholesalers, by offering expertise in the sector. “For example, we provide wholesale sales’ teams with comprehensive toolkits and playbooks about our Nestlé portfolio, so they have a detailed overview of our different products, their appeal and their distinctive characteristics that help them confidently market the products to their customers and drive sales. “We have seen that consumer trends are driving premiumisation in the sector as well as a higher appreciation for trusted brands, alongside an increased interest in ethical, healthy and convenient options.

“On the other hand, we know that Generation Z want to buy from brands that are a force for good – and so this presents wholesalers with an opportunity to leverage this insight to drive sales by stocking a brand such as Nestlé, which has credibility in this space. “For example, Nestlé comes in tins that are recyclable, and all our packaging will be 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025. “We have also been working with experts for over 10 years on sustainable sourcing to ensure a fruitful future for everyone in the coffee industry. Distributing more than 180 million disease-resistant coffee plants to farms, developing labour-rights programmes and helping our farmers to work more efficiently.”


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*Source: Circana All Outlets & KWP Discounter, Total Hot Coffee Volume Sales for 52 w/e 25th March 2023

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®Reg. Trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.

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SECTOR REVIEW HOT BEVERAGES & COLD BREWS patterns and routines lives on, suppliers say. “Out-of-home consumption was severely impacted by the pandemic,” says Cecilia Farr, beverages brand manager at Nestlé Professional. “With less commuting and an increasing work-from-home culture, the focus should be fulfilling consumers’ demand for better cups of coffee. Wholesalers should take advantage of the different ways and reasons behind coffee’s consumption. “Coffee is consumed in the morning to start the day, during the day as an energising break, as a social connector, to escape and disconnect. This fact offers many possibilities to wholesalers to present different offerings to their customers.” RTD coffee One of the big winners in recent

times has been the £289m ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee market. A recent Better Wholesaling project saw Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) and Costa Coffee team up with wholesaler Parfetts to offer advice and relay its RTD chilled coffee fixtures (see Sales data from two depots – comparing the six weeks prior to the project and the six weeks after – saw sales increases of 208% (Hayes) and 312% (Stockport). The results highlight how the potential of this ever-growing category are still not being fully realised by many wholesalers – as well as the dramatic impact that some relatively simple category management can have. “It was great travelling across the country to discuss the exciting opportunity we’ve identified


L’Or collectable jars – New limitededition jars feature a series of designs inspired by coffee flowers and plants. The designs feature across three lines.

Müller Good Stuff Barista Milk – As consumers look to recreate their shop favourites at home, a range of specialist milks – including this product by Müller – have appeared on the market.

Nescafé Gold Golden Honeycomb Aero Mocha – Inspired by the sharing bar, this mocha coffee comes in sachets and requires the addition of water to create a ‘coffee shop’ experience.

PG Tips – Lipton Teas and Infusions is providing PG Tips with “a completely new look and blend” with the range of Original, Gold and Decaf SKUs supported by a marketing campaign.

Galaxy Hot Chocolate – Not everyone wants tea or coffee. Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats’ bestselling hot chocolate brand is worth £21m and is currently in double-digit growth.

Bovril – Now for a retro choice. This classic British hot drink is being introduced to the next generation thanks to robot-dancing Peter Crouch, the firm’s new brand ambassador.


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to grow RTD coffee sales. We’re doing the same with retailers – driving demand along the supply chain so we can help the segment reach its potential,” said Matthew O’Hagan, senior portfolio execution manager, FMCG UK&I at Costa Coffee. News of this segment’s success is clearly growing. One of the most recent entrants into the market has been soft drinks brand Boost. IRI data suggests the most popular flavours for iced coffee consumers are caramel (36%), mocha (18.4%), espresso (16%) and latte (14%), all of which feature in Boost’s 250ml offering. “We know that the RTD iced coffee category is growing rapidly at 24% volume and 31% value, year on year,” says Adrian Hipkiss, marketing director at Boost Drinks. “This provides a huge opportunity for retailers to draw customers in and maximise sales. To successfully capitalise on this

trend, retailers and wholesalers should provide enough space to allow for future growth in the category and stock fast-growing brands, such as Boost.” This expanding market is also encouraging new and innovative premium brands to join the fray. Momo Kombucha – an organic kombucha brewer – has developed a first-of-its-kind Gesha Coffee Kombucha with Caravan coffee roasters. A donation of 20p from every bottle sold will go to Project Waterfall, which provides clean water and sanitation in countries and communities that grow coffee around the world. Hot chocolate While coffee and tea continue to dominate the category, the rise of hot chocolate remains a key market trend. Instant hot chocolate is the largest-growing format and contributes 23% to the overall category

value, according to Kantar. It is, Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats says, particularly important for wholesalers to stock leading brands such as Galaxy and Maltesers, as brands account for 77% of the overall category. “Retailers are looking to maintain the growing demand for variety among shoppers while still offering much-loved existing products,” says Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats. “Hot chocolate is no longer purely a seasonal product, instead it has become an all-year round purchase.” With consumers on the search for new experiences and something a little different, Frost says that hot chocolate is a category that can allow shoppers to ex-

press themselves. “The hot chocolate products within the Mars portfolio are a great way for consumers to get creative with their hot chocolate creations with a variety of fun toppings. Our Galaxy Hot Chocolate, meanwhile, encourages our loyal customers to continue to purchase, while the innovation of our new products attracts new shoppers.” Galaxy is now the second-largest hot chocolate brand, worth £21m, with sales growing by 23% over the last 24-week period (Kantar). By working closely with suppliers and being aware of the many growth areas, wholesalers have a significant opportunity to benefit from this exciting category.

TAKEAWAY POINTS 1. Premiumisation versus bestsellers – Stand back and look at the long-term trends in the coffee sector and it is clear that premium is where all the growth is coming from. Yet, the vast majority of sales still comes from instant coffee, so wholesalers must balance a search for growth with the right range of products to satisfy demand today. Product launches such as Nescafé Gold Golden Honeycomb Aero and Nescafé Gold Dairy Alternative are some of the many products designed to marry the best of both worlds, delivering a coffee shop-standard experience with the simplicity of a ‘just add water’ format. 2. Ready-to-drink coffee is driving sales and innovation – By far the most dynamic sector in this market is ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee. While existing brands such as Starbucks, Costa and others are finding their product sales growing fast, new entrants – such as energy drinks company Boost – are also being encouraged to develop new products to meet this huge demand. The good news is that wholesalers can benefit further from this trend by following some relatively simple category management advice. A recent Better Wholesaling project including CCEP, Dhamecha and Parfetts saw the latter expand sales by 208% and 312% across two depots, respectively. 3. It’s not just about coffee – Coffee – whether instant, premium, RTD or brewed in store – has come to define this opportunity over the past decade, but it’s important not to overlook the other opportunities that lie in the category. The recent investment in a new blend and packaging for PG Tips classic range underscores the ambition that Lipton Teas and Infusions has for its iconic brand. Offering more choice – supported by the biggest brands – is one of the most effective ways to build a successful range. l


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Credit: Getty Images/NatalyaBurova

In the March issue of Better Wholesaling Insight:

Taking on tech: how to take advantage of AI and other innovative operational and financial technologies, and how to efficiently implement them in your business • Why wholesale shouldn’t be falling behind when it comes to modern tech • What technologies you should be using and how to go about it • How to cost-effectively implement tech in your business • Why you should be integrating the most advanced practices For more information about Better Wholesaling Insight, please contact Joe Constantinou at

Better Wholesaling Insight: stay informed and get ahead

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