JANUARY DIGITAL EDITION – Big year coming up

Welcome to the first issue of 2020 and what a year this could turn out to be for not just wholesalers, but the entire food and drink industry. All eyes are on the Conservative Government at the moment. Armed with a resounding victory in the polls, they negotiate Brexit promising better trade deals across the world, deals that will of course have a huge impact at all levels in the supply chain.

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As we await the results of talks, one could thumb through the pages in this issue and argue Britain – when it comes to food and drink – is already a leading player on the international stage.

We import, supply and sell some of the world’s biggest and best brands, just ask Ashai UK’s Steve Young, who we interview in our Supplier Spotlight.

Bringing in the best drinks from around the world, Ashai’s portfolio of premium beers is growing in the off-trade and Steve informs how their recent move into the low/no-alcohol sector is really starting to pay dividends.

Carrying on with the theme of worldly goods, Empire Bespoke Foods has launched a new E-commerce loyalty club that gives opportunities to trial new products for free. The aptly named World Food Club collates authentic food and drink brands from around the globe to the benefits of their customers.

Furthermore, our World Foods feature highlights emerging cuisines as well as new launches from established brands, showing how this exciting category is kept fresh through constant innovation from suppliers.

The latest emerging trends include diversification of what consumers have come to know as Chinese cuisine, with a greater appreciation of Korean, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai food driving sales of Asian and Far East ingredients, drinks and meal kits.

Just as fast changing is the Sports & Energy drinks category. Our feature looks at the latest lifestyle trends and how these drinks have become synonymous with much more than just ‘gym fuel’.

Also it will be interesting to see how new launches from the big and niche alike – Coca Cola Energy and Grenade Energy for example – work to stir things up.

We witness another big change in Tobacco this year, with 20th May ushering in a complete ban on menthol flavoured tobacco products.

Experience tells us that consumer awareness of tobacco legislation tends to be relatively low so encouraging retailers to talk to consumers ahead of the ban is important, advises Imperial Tobacco’s Duncan Cunningham.

Elsewhere in the Tobacco world, as covered in our news, Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) has completed the acquisition of Royal Agio Cigars. This will see STG add to its already strong cigar portfolio with key European brands Mehari’s, Panter and Balmoral.

Meanwhile, there is good news for wholesalers and retailers in regard to best practice advice, with The Wholesale Company (TWC) launching Alchemy Elements and Heineken’s ongoing greenpaper category strategy, read more in our news pages.

With plenty of change expected, the UK may have a very different economic climate by the end of this year.

Predictions for the food and drink industry vary, but a couple of things are certain: Generation Z-led sustainability and waste management, specifically around climate change and single use plastic, are massive issues for the industry going forward, not just in 2020 but for the decade to come.