The cost of utilities such as energy and fuel, and their potential impact upon pricing, will be the key challenge for our supply base and ourselves in the year ahead. This has only begun to emerge as a major issue over the past few months but will inevitably snowball.
Other challenges will include decision-making in relation to the amount of shelf-space given to functional foods and other products marketed as healthy, both ‘soft’ health (such as wholegrain and organic) and ‘hard’ health products (fortified goods, such as Omega 3).
We will be re-launching own-brand morning goods in the New Year, focusing upon health and clean ingredients labels.
We will also focus on convenience. For example, we are looking at single-packed items that can be put into a lunchbox and re-sealable products. We’re trying to adapt to how people are living, and the rising number of single-occupied homes will obviously have an impact on how people eat.
Pre-packed cakes will be an interesting area, as the market continues to polarise between ‘cheapest on display’ products and, at the other end of the market, an emphasis upon ‘better’ ingredients such as free-range eggs and the removal of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Consumers are looking closely at food labels now and they’re looking beyond fat and sugar.
Interest in speciality breads continues. We’ve seen the La Brea bread brand come into the market last year – that’s been interesting and it’s driving premiumisation. Currently, Waitrose has offered a speciality range, where representation of Anglicised ranges such as Cranks and Duchy Originals has been high and this has worked well for us.
Now, there is room to move further into Mediterranean breads, developing both continental and British traditional areas because we have customers to which both appeal.