Following the outbreak of Covid-19 the world has become increasingly focused on hygiene.

We are all more aware of the surfaces we are touching and the surfaces that those passing items to us have touched.

For the wholesale industry which provides products to foodservice customers, a rising interest in products that promote hygiene is expected, to ensure consumers feel safe and protected when visiting an establishment.

In a recent survey, almost 8 out of 10 consumers state that they feel safest using an enclosed napkin dispenser over a standard napkin dispenser (Technomic).

Due to this insight Tork has created NPD, to help foodservice customers improve their hygiene standards.

New Tork Individually Wrapped Napkins and Tork Sealed Cutlery and Napkin bags reduce the amount of contact time and risk of contamination, to reassure customers that the products are safe to use.

Traditionally, many foodservice businesses have napkins in open baskets. However, with a heightened focus on hygiene this may no longer be acceptable.

To help the foodservice industry Tork has developed NPD, to ensure napkins are used safely and sustainably.

Tork Xpresssnap Fit are enclosed napkin dispensers, a more hygienic solution than traditional dispensers.

Thanks to one-at-a-time dispensing, guests only touch the napkins they use, and the fully covered design protects napkins from dirt and spills.

Additionally, with the latest innovation, the Tork Xpressnap Electronic Drive Thru Napkin Dispenser, Tork is bringing the benefits of the enclosed napkin dispenser to drive-thru and takeaway areas.

The counter and wall mounted dispensers will allow restaurants to enhance their back of house efficiency by dispensing the right number of napkins automatically and quickly for every order.

Eliminating the need to count napkins improves accuracy and speed.

Not only this, but the Tork Xpressnap napkin refills are compatible with a variety of self-serve tabletop and central location dispensers, offering additional benefits such as reduced waste, making the products more sustainable, which is of huge importance for consumers and businesses alike.

In order to remain the category leader Tork and its parent company Essity regularly conduct research to assess consumer opinion, to provide businesses with informed guidance and advice, as well as informing innovation and future NPD.

Recent research revealed that 6 out of 10 people have higher expectations of the hygiene standard in restaurants and cafes since Covid-19, according to the recent Essity Essentials Initiative Survey 2020-2021 from global hygiene company Essity.

Adding to that, 42% of consumers say that they are worried about visiting restaurants and cafes (Essity).

“This insight revealed that wholesalers need to prepare for an influx of interest in hygiene products from foodservice customers as businesses slowly begin to reopen in the coming months, by offering a vast range of high quality hygiene products, says Hanneke Kuipers, Global Brand Communications Manager, at Tork.

Interest in hand sanitiser and dispensers is expected to peak again when businesses begin to reopen.

With 60% of consumers expected to have higher hygiene expectations of foodservice businesses (Essity), the optimisation of sanitiser dispensers will be key in communicating hygiene standards and ensuring consumers feel safe and protected when visiting.

“In order to maximise sales wholesalers must ensure that they are providing customers, specifically those in the foodservice industry, with products that will not only improve the hygiene standard of a business, but essentially save them time, money and resources,” suggests Kuipers. “It is no secret that the foodservice industry had been one of the worst affected by Covid-19, with the entire sector grinding to a halt for a second time in December 2020. With a lot of uncertainty, wholesalers can help foodservice customers prepare to reopen in the coming months, with a variety of hygiene products from well trusted, recognised hygiene brands.”

Covid-19 has profoundly shifted the way we all think about hygiene. For hospitality, hygiene now plays a more important role than ever, with a recent survey conducted by Tork finding that customers are now likely to pay more attention to the hygiene practices of an establishment, directly impacting whether they return or not.

For hospitality owners, the washroom is set to become an area of focus, with a growing awareness of health risks associated with hygiene in public spaces. Tork discovered that nearly eight out of 10 people surveyed in the UK feel more unsafe going to facilities with unhygienic public washrooms today than before the pandemic.

Furthermore, 59% of UK respondents wish more facilities offered paper towels as an alternative hand drying solution.

“This shows that there is a need for businesses to adapt to new hygiene practices; it is no longer enough to meet standards; we must exceed them,” adds Kuipers. “The friction from drying hands with paper towels also helps to remove more bacteria than other drying options. Providing solutions that make people feel safe, such as offering paper towels, must be a top priority for wholesalers providing products to foodservice customers to ensure consumers feel protected whilst visiting.”

The pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in sales of hand sanitiser, as the number one product focus for all business in the foodservice industry and beyond.

Hand hygiene has been the main focus for us all throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

The majority of people wash their hands more often today than they did before the Covid-19 pandemic; close to eight out of 10 respondents wash their hands more frequently to protect themselves from Covid-19. Previously, hand sanitiser was the most in demand product for the healthcare industry only, however, the pandemic has seen the use of hand sanitiser expand from a niche product to an everyday household essential item.

Matt Stanton, Head of Category and Insight at DCS Group, comments: “With the current anti-bacterial trend here to stay, retailers should ensure that they stock anti-bacterial variants within key personal care categories, such as hand cream and hand wash. Vaseline Anti Bacterial Hand Cream, Carex Anti Bacterial Bar Soap and Sure Anti Bacterial Deodorant are good examples of products that fit with this trend.”

The anti-bacterial trend also extends to the Home Care category with people keen to keep their homes as clean and germ free as possible.

“Key lines are Dettol Antibacterial Surface Cleanser and Flash Lemon Antibacterial Wipes. Core anti-bacterial lines should be featured as part of an all year round core range,” suggests Stanton. “When shoppers are looking for their usual multipurpose products, they are likely to be swayed by a prospect that both cleans and sanitises.”

In 2020, Persil, the UK’s number one Laundry brand created its ‘Antibacterial Laundry Sanitiser’- designed for use alongside detergent and fabric conditioner, killing 99.9% viruses and bacteria.

“Where space allows, display anti-bacterial lines in an area of the store with high footfall to encourage impulse purchases,” Stanton recommends. “Consider listing cross category lines, such as household disinfectant cleaners, hand soaps and sanitisers and anti-bacterial variants of personal care items such as deodorants and hand creams.”

Sustainability is a topic that will continue to be at the forefront of many people’s minds for the foreseeable future.

With continuous product innovation across the FMCG sector, brands are working as fast as they can to produce products and packaging that are both environmentally friendly and sustainable.

“We are seeing an increase of biodegradable products in the market, along with refillable packaging solutions on best-selling lines such as Carex hand washes,” adds Stanton. “Retailers should keep an eye out for sustainable lines flowing through to wholesalers in the near future.”

We have also seen the transition of mainstream products becoming more sustainable through both formula and packaging.

Brands are innovating all aspects of product development, including the manufacturing process, right through to the finished product. We have seen the introduction of recyclable plastics, the removal of some product aspects, and new products into the market. Persil has recently removed the dosing ball from their liquid bottles to cut down plastic use, and its latest Bio liquids are made from a plant based formula.

Locality has become a focus for consumers with people becoming increasingly conscious about buying from local businesses. The pandemic has made people shop more locally and in turn more are supporting local businesses, including convenience stores.

“Financial pressures of the past year will result in continued cautious shopping behaviours,” comments Stanton. “In times like these, brand trust becomes important, and whilst some shoppers will trade down from brands to own-label, others are more confident buying a branded product they know they can rely on. Many people are looking for affordable luxuries in the form of more premium products. As people are becoming increasingly conscious about money, it is more important than ever to give customers peace of mind when shopping in store. Price-mark packs are a fantastic way of doing this. Where PMPs are available, consider stocking these in place of straight packs.”

Glade, leading air care brand from SC Johnson, has launched its Spring Limited Edition range, featuring three new consciously crafted scents.

The Glade Spring Limited Edition range of three unique scents is inspired by the freshness of nature, to deliver a boost of energy and reenergise the senses.

Mandarin & Sunshine is a combination of mandarin, white peach and red berries, creating a fruit cocktail bursting with colour and energy.

Sky & Sea Salt has scents of sea salt, ocean breeze and driftwood.

Petals & Blossom offers the romance of a rose bouquet, with a modern twist of grapefruit, wild strawberry and apple.

It reflects the brand’s vision of consciously crafted scents, focussing on creating high quality fragrances with purposefully selected ingredients and leveraging smart chemistry to minimise environmental impact.

Fragrances are developed without phthalates, parabens, nitro musks and formaldehyde.

Inspired by the green-conscious, Glade is also using the range to encourage upcycling. The brand is partnering with Pinterest to share ideas for how candle jars can be re-used along with other inspirational, low-waste living tips to shoppers.

A Thornton & Ross spokesperson comments: “We have observed that consumers tend to seek household products that suit their particular lifestyles. The household cleaning sector is highly influenced by sensory appeal so delivering unique sensory experiences is high on people’s lists when choosing cleaning products.”

Zoflora is the UK’s number 1 disinfectant and has over 30 fragrances available to suit a range of consumers, as well as the Fresh Home range, which has been specifically developed for homes with pets.

Another trend we have seen is that consumers are buying more antibacterial cleaners with COVID-19 driving interest in these products.

Zoflora has been laboratory tested and proven to kill coronaviruses, including the Covid-19 virus, and conforms to the latest British standard BS when used at 1:40 dilution with a 5 minute contact time, which relates to the virucidal activity of chemical disinfectants. This result has set Zoflora apart from most other household disinfectants and has driven an increase in consumer affection for the brand, as well as driving sales in the last quarter.

Zoflora has a further 10 new seasonal fragrances planned for launch this year across its 3 pack sizes.

The household cleaning market saw a huge surge in 2020, with the liquid disinfectant market growing 68% in the last 52 weeks, with a shift forward in terms of category penetration from 29% to 44%, meaning 4.2 million extra households shopping the category.

“We expect this growth to continue, as home hygiene remains a priority during the pandemic,” the spokesperson added.

“The best way to maximise sales is to ensure that the product is easy to find, and well faced,” says the spokesperson. “Secondary sites such as gondola ends, seasonal aisles and shelves adjacent to till points can also encourage impulse purchases.”

Kat Simpson, UKI Category Director at Unilever, comments: “Unilever has announced the relaunch of its Partners for Growth category advice programme, which is designed to provide an enhanced support package for convenience retailers via the launch of a new-look website featuring updated, unbiased shopper-led core range recommendations. For the first time, the programme will be opened up to other non-competing categories so that Partners for Growth will become the go-to website for convenience retailers in search of unbiased store-wide category and business advice they can trust.”

Partners for Growth was launched in 2003 to address the £1.2 billion in lost sales each year because shoppers couldn’t find what they were looking to buy (HIM). Since the launch, Partners for Growth has been providing free and unbiased category and business advice to convenience retailers. Retailers found that by following the unbiased ranging and merchandising advice, they could grow their category sales by up to 42%, simply be relaying their fixtures in line with the recommendations.

Central to the trust that retailers have placed in the programme is that Partners for Growth advice has always been unbiased, and designed to grow total category sales, not just those of a manufacturer. It is based on national sales data and insight from Unilever category experts and supported by practical insights from their panel of award-winning UK retailers. In a survey of convenience retailers, 95% of respondents told Unilever that they would recommend Partners for Growth advice to other retailers.

The relaunch will see the website updated with new unbiased ranging and shopper mission advice that reflects the impact on shopper behaviour of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as improved functionality to make it easier for retailers to access the wider range of category content anticipated on the site.

There is a Retailer Support section that provides retailers with content to help them improve how they run their business and includes a range of business tools that can help with diverse aspects such as writing a business plan and creating customer surveys.

In addition, there is a new Talking Shop section, where retailers are able to exchange ideas, comment on content and put questions to category experts and Partners for Growth’s Retailer Advisory Panel members to help them innovate and improve how they run their store.

A news and Seasonal section will provide timely seasonal advice, and insight into news that is likely to have an impact on their business.

Kat Simpson adds: “We know that receiving credible, trustworthy advice is critical to the convenience store sector, and Partners for Growth is the longest-running category advice programme providing retailers with the necessary support they need to help them grow their business. We have seen significant changes in shopper behaviour as a result of the pandemic and would urge retailers to review the new updated category insight and advice, as it is important that they reflect these changes in behaviour in their ranging decisions.”


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