Back to the Future?


It’s a curious mood out there in the trade at the moment. I have spoken to many folks over the last month and I think ‘drifting’ best sums up the mood.  The food and drink industry, like most of the UK, has a general feeling of restlessness. Time’s passing but big questions are being left unresolved.

The upcoming election doesn’t feel like it’s going to be the ‘clear the air’ moment that many want to see, largely as it’s so hard to see what the outcome will be. Maybe that’s overly pessimistic, perhaps there will be progress one way or the other before Christmas…

…and yet…. the huge changes in the structures of food and drink continue. Retailers are delayering and there are more and more ‘ex retailers’ on the job market. Buyers’ spans of control continue to grow, with greater ranges and assortments being placed into fewer and fewer hands and younger and younger buyers. The discounters march on and Amazon haven’t brought about the changes in grocery delivery they would have hoped. My personal view is that we could see Amazon make further acquisitions in grocery retail before too long.

It’s Food Matters Live next week in Excel and it’s always a heady cocktail of a trade show – nutritionists, students, the public, as well as the trade, make for an interesting mix. This year I am letting Roseanna take speaking and panel chairing duties on behalf of the team and I am focusing on sniffing out intriguing new products and propositions. And locating double espressos of course. So, if you fancy joining me for a coffee just drop me an email, any chance to talk shop is a good one. [email protected]

On the Supply Chain side, we’ve been involved in some really interesting projects recently and it’s pleasing to see the profession start to come of age. Time was when supply chain was a subset of Operations, or even Procurement, but it’s increasingly seen as a function in its own now, and rightfully so. There’s so much data available now – real time, detailed information from all parts of the chain. Unsurprisingly, today’s supply chain recruits are data sciences graduates.

It’s great to see fresh talent come into Supply Chain, but I do hope that these new recruits spend some time in customer services dealing with the inevitable supply chain issues that come up every day. Spending time at the coalface solving logistics problems is a rich experience that helps contextualise the data that supply chain analysts now have – the world can’t be solved with pivot tables alone!

Lastly, a huge thanks to Nytol owner Perrigo, for placing the warning ‘May cause drowsiness’ on the Herbal Nytol product I used during a road trip last week. Most helpful.

Reminds me of the classic warning on the Dremel Multi tool drill – ‘not for use as a dentist drill’.  Now there’s a thought.

Until next month.

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