Well both Christmas and New Year are over, and I hope that in both business and personal life, you are in a good place. So in 2019 we might just see a Brexit deal done, and I hope that we can then all get on with our own lives and move on to solving all the more immediate local and national problems that we all have to endure.
My own hopes include a rather more positive value of sterling, and the permanent inclusion of all those Europeans who have formed such an important role in the NHS, the service industry and filled those places, some very specific, in agriculture and the food sectors.
I am writing this on Armistice Day, the centenary of the end of this war to end all wars. This might not have been the case, but as a country we seem to have grown into being more observant and respectful of the millions who died on both sides and the debt that we owe them all. My father served as a naval lieutenant on a corvette in the 2nd WW, protecting the convoys that kept Malta afloat and free. He survived but rarely talked about the experience, in common with most veterans and indeed we could not comprehend what they all went through. Trading food is a whole different world!
This leads me to the latest David Attenborough series, Dynasties. The first episode starred David, a chimpanzee leader, endeavouring to maintain order and his position at the top of the family, fighting tooth and nail, and succeeding for another year. Ultimately he faced a sad end, but looking at the politics of the world then we are little different. I suppose Sir David is the head of his dynasty of wildlife supremes.
In contrast I can say I am only nominally Chairman and the younger generation are making an excellent job of peaceful succession!
Business wise, we are still finding the weak currency hard work, and Brexit in any format will do little to correct this. Supply chains may come under more strain, but we have always been large stockholders. New crops of both Walnuts and Almonds have been gathered in and seem sufficient, despite the horrific fires in California. Turkish Apricots are reasonable, raisins from California, Turkey and Chile adequate, with the main problem again being the currency.
So onto new products, starting with Aspall organic apple cider vinegar, unfiltered but blended with honey, which can be diluted to produce a healthy tonic or create marinades and sauces. A relatively new addition is the Black Liquorice Company, with a range of flavours, sweet, fruity, salty and even gluten free.
One of our original suppliers, Bottlegreen, continues to grow their range, not an artificial flavour, colour or sweetener in sight; try the Rhubarb and Ginger or Blood Orange and Bergamot for a change.
Now we have 2 or 3 different types of snacks; Corners crispy popped corn crisps have a lovely taste and texture, Eat Real snacks include Lentil crisps, Hummus chips and moreish Quinoa Puffs, all totally natural and tasty. If you need a broccoli based snack then look no further than Growers Garden, using fresh broccoli grown on their farms, high in fibre, gluten free and delicious. Metcalfe’s rice cakes and corn chips continue to develop, the cakes have just 79 calories per pack and the corn chips are popped not fried, so the calorie contact is under 100 per pack – but the flavour is HUGE, nacho cheese and sizzling BBQ tastes, and all gluten free.
Biscuits? Try Nevis Rounds, shortbreads to savour or Nairn’s oat based bars, oatcakes, still committed to being delicious, simple, natural and wholesome. The Original Biscuit Company (formerly known as Image on Food) makes some lovely smooth gingerbreads, with a seaside collection, Starfish and Seahorses leading the way, or go a little wilder with the Safari animals like Giraffes and Monkeys.
Finally a couple of random additions, like Mutti, Italy’s top tomato brand, with a Ketchup made out of 2.2 kilos of Tomatoes per kilo of ketchup, if you like Italian tomatoes then this is for you. Moo Free is delicious, organic, dairy free chocolate and they have added some crunchy organic banana, all ethically sourced, dairy, gluten and soya free.
You may have noticed a number of lines delisted, in our attempt to rationalise and some, like a few Hazer Baba lines, will reappear in the Christmas brochure that Mike and the buyers are presently putting together. Please take note of our extensive range of Butlers Grove own label products that we have added over the last quarter.
So whether Brexit goes through in some format, whether the next Beast from the East has set us into ice, I can but hope that you have enjoyed a good festive period, and we look forward to being of service to you in 2019.