A Royal wedding does wonders for the atmosphere and weather and brightens the mood of shoppers. Unfortunately, it has not improved the dismal level of the pound, but it did confirm that society continues to evolve, and change can cause problems in the retail world. Shopping habits change, and we all need to be quick on our feet and change with them. On my travels I see more and more small overnight delivery vans, all served by highly efficient distribution hubs, thus ensuring that we get all we want the next day.
My recent trip to Scotland revealed an answer: Gloagburn and Loch Leven Farm Shops are prime examples of growth and excellence, made possible through good, sensible retailing from the owners and staff. Likewise, Provender Deli shows that good staff are essential to create the right atmosphere.
I have also spent some time at the other end of the supply chain and the same is true. Good stewardship develops from progressive management, having the wholesaler, retailer and especially the end user in mind, Three Little Pigs and Lottie Shaw’s Bakery, are two of Yorkshire’s best, with good marketing, an enthusiastic involvement and willingness to work and develop their ranges with the retailer. I am determined to continue to strengthen our links at both ends of the supply chain – it is a people business after all.
The International Nut Conference in Seville has addressed the ups and downs of crops across the world. Both the weather and politics can influence the size of crops and, more frustratingly, the trade war can result in hefty duties being applied to some very specific nuts, like US walnuts and almonds. Certainly there is very little evidence of cheaper products, and the poor pound does not help.
So on to new products and on the Hider label, more foil packs for you to try. Does dark chocolate and ginger work for you or milk chocolate brazils maybe? Also if you are going to be watching the World Cup, our new foil sharing bigger bags might make you less tense.
Gold Crown Bakery products have brand new packaging around some favourite slab cakes; Date & Walnut and an Ice Topped Fruit Cake should be on your list. More Middle Eastern foods from Al’Fez are evident – Preserved Lemon Paste and a Rose Harissa, one with a citrus tang, the other a smooth hot paste to lift a wide range of dishes.
Closer to home, Hampshire in fact, Atkins & Potts have a traditional Lamb Gravy and a batch of four gift sets, each with two delicious sauces, Chutneys/Savoury Jams, ideal for barbecues. Whilst in Hampshire, try the Bakedin baking kits, they had the imagination to ask Michel Roux to help develop their recipes, if he can do it, you now can!
Belvoir Fruit Farms and our good friend Peveral have produced a series of light, zingy flavoured drinks, a couple of which caught my eye; Elderflower & Rose and a Lemon & Mint cordial, well worth tasting. Have you time for a coffee? In which case add one of the new Great British Biscotti, maybe Double Chocolate & Cherry? Or on the savoury side their Caramelized Red Onion & Walnut perhaps.
Pipers are local to us and they are taking advantage of the Lincolnshire pea crop to produce three better for you Crispeas, available in three flavours, Matar Paneer, Salsa Verde and English Mint. They are lower in calories, a source of fibre and protein, and gluten, wheat and barley free. From Matar to Matcha Latte sachets from Teapigs, a super power green tea, and other new Feel Good teas, such as Happy, Trim and Calm.
We have long connections with Thursday Cottage – I remember selling them a sharp South African apricot for that special tang. They have two new spreads, one with 60% dark chocolate, another with Maldon Sea Salt and Caramel, both good for any desserts
Finally, my “Visit Yorkshire” recommendation and a couple of places/people to see; I recently went to see Victoria, David and senior staff at Lewis and Cooper in Northallerton to discuss products, tastings and promotions; a pleasant market town, lovely shop and people.
The other day out is more cultural, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, just minutes off the M1. This open air gallery in the Breton Hall Estate has just celebrated 40 years of art without walls. There are sculptures by Antony Gormley, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Miro and a current show of Giuseppe Penone of trees, wooden and bronze, which are very clever and so convincing that the local birds are happily sitting in the branches. Plenty of dragon flies, which reminded me that my granddaughter commented that they were the only beautiful insects she had ever seen, and how had she reached 6 without seeing one!
I cannot finish on a more upbeat way, just enjoy the summer, cricket, football or just walks in the country.