I have started and stopped this several times in an attempt to portray the right picture and this is likewise probably doomed!
Brexit; I am writing this not knowing whether we will or won’t, whether we will smoothly exit or crash out, but businesses have really been left high and dry in terms of options. What will be the duty rates, how long will it take to get through customs, how much will this all cost, will all our excellent European staff be granted options to stay and crucially, what will happen to the Irish border? And will the currency recover? We’re not exactly building up emergency stocks in case of problems but will be keeping a close eye on specific imports to ensure that we have stock available.
We can move onto to another aspect that we can only monitor, the weather in California and Turkey. Both are key geographical areas for nuts and dried fruit and interestingly the former has had more than adequate rain and snow over the winter months with plenty of reserve water from the spring snow melt. The area has however had years of close to drought conditions with water effectively rationed. The other element is avoiding a late frost and so as the almond blossoms set and mature, we will hope for a good crop. Ironically by the time you read this we will know to a degree, so will keep you informed of this and the same is true in Turkey and the Hazel and Apricot crops in April.
Food companies continue to be innovative, following trends as best we can, whether it be healthy, vegan, vegetarian or promoting the “free from” sections. Here at Hider we are well placed as always being strong in the usage of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. I suspect that the market is both as educated as it has ever been and covers a rainbow of different demands, be it on an experimental trial basis or being happy with the fundamental truth of following a balanced diet. Following any such thread, we are insistent on the food being of the right quality and packaged to appeal to the general customer. Which brings up another buzzword of being socially aware as regards use of plastic, be it of a recycled material, capable of being recycled and in a minimum format. This is a world-wide problem, common to all customer offerings across the general retail trade. Just how responsible are we as individuals when it comes to buying Christmas presents, which are still lavishly packaged? Frustratingly across the world the common plastic bag is still offered in most supermarkets, Walmart (Asda owner) actively use dozens in the USA, all free of charge, and the battle in the UK is still to convince the average shopper that they can make a difference. As a proud, responsible family company, we still need to work both internally and with our suppliers to cut out unnecessary packaging in every format, but it is a slow process.
Perhaps as well on the one hand we like good personal and sociable customer interaction, yet increasingly use the internet to buy on line. Link this with the growth of overnight deliveries using a whole army of expensive carriers and it does little to help the pollution that blights much of our tiny country – our expectations of immediate service, whilst good, comes at a price.
I had best get off this tirade and pause to highlight some of the delicious new products that you’ll find over the coming pages starting with some variations on old favourites – try the Belvoir craft mixers, Blue Dragon noodle kits, Fentimans fridge packs or Folkington’s mini cans.
As a newcomer try Epic’s large, even, Giant Marshmallows and if you are of sweet tooth then Lindt has an excellent Treat Bar range.
Do you like Italy? Then we have Pasta Di Liguria from the Minaglia family, beautiful food from a lovely region of Italy, all natural, organic, with an introductory offer too.
Drive up to Scotland until you can drive no further and you reach Thurso, not as warm as Liguria, but the home of Reids, family of distinguished bakers – shortbreads to suit every taste.
Did you know that Kuhne are Germany’s No.1 Gherkin and a Great Taste winner? I rest my case. And if you wondered what happened to all the misshaped fruit, you’ll find them in Urban Cordials, low sugar and made in small batches but with huge flavour. Look at the new product pages for further ideas.
So there it is, Easter rapidly approaching and Summer on the horizon and we look forward to seeing you at the Farm Shop & Deli Show coming soon to the NEC.
My best hopes go with you for a productive year and we will do our very best to help!