Autumn 2019

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Well that was the summer, hardly BBQ weather every day, but maybe our expectations were too high?  A summer of contrasts, record high temperatures, storms, a wet August and the Ashes, various festivals, piles of discarded tents and rubbish, has anything changed for the better?  The Rugby World Cup is still to come, Ben Stokes produced the innings of a lifetime to give England hope, David Attenborough continues to remind us of our planet’s fragility and yet the Amazonian rain forest continues to burn.

I cannot avoid a mention of Brexit and that we have seemingly negotiated for 3 years, and yet it comes down to the wire, with no real progress on the fairly obvious basics.  The uncertainty has wrecked the pound and people and businesses are no further forward.

I also apologise unreservedly that our large computer upgrade has produced so many problems.  The detailed explanation is complex, the solutions difficult, but its effect on our stock visibility and particularly on our service was quickly apparent.  Our staff have worked tirelessly to identify and correct mistakes, upgrades have been upgraded but such are the complexities of the problems they have encountered that it has taken an age to attack, solve and implement.  I realise that we have let many of you down, but we are beginning to see improvements and I hope you can forgive us.

Just a word about the trade battle between the US and China; the ensuing increases in duties have drastically changed the trading patterns of Almonds, Walnuts and all those dried beans, amongst a myriad of others.  Turkey, India and China were huge importers of Almonds and Walnuts, many in shell, and their importers are having to stand a huge increase.  In many cases they have just had to stop.  A decent Almond crop is available, Walnuts and Apricots look good, but where will the price end up?  Pine kernels and Pecans are expensive, but there is nothing new about that.

So new products?  Butlers Grove have a range of French pates, terrines, and duck and goose roasting fat.  Lindt always sells fast at Christmas and additional lines recently added are the aptly named Excellence bars, packed in 20’s and Les Grandes Nut bars, packed in 13’s.  Original Chicken Crackling is new to us, but comes with a good pedigree, available in either sea salt or with a hint of Habanero chilli.  This is an all British snack, high in protein, MSG and gluten free and worth a try. Jumping across Europe, the humble tomato is Mutti’s staple product, but the Gastronomia range has a Great Taste award and is guaranteed to enhance any dish.

Bake Off has just started again on TV, so I should mention that the original baking star, Mary Berry, has a couple of dressings that caught my eye; Blue Cheese and a Fruity Pomegranate, both ideal for salads, with not an artificial colour, flavour or preservative in sight.

On the drinks front, Fentimans have a new “Light range” – lower sugar and therefore calorific content, same classic taste.  More craft drinks and lower sugar, with rather different ingredients from Gunna, and also the Green Cola people have produced a very specific natural cola, with no sugar, no aspartame, no phosphoric acid or preservatives, and using the natural sweetness of Stevia.  Continuing on the free from theme, Moo Free have an excellent Organic chocolate using rice milk, delicious, dairy and gluten free.  Which leads us nicely to the Mr Organic range, with a new yummy food, wholesome, organic and produced with respect for both nature and those involved in the process.  There are some lovely Italian lines to tempt you.

Christmas beckons and we would be delighted to help you during this vital trading period.  Just contact our telesales staff with any additions that you may need and when you need them.

David Hider

Chairman