Paul Hargreaves on four key product and category trends that wholesalers will need to know about going in to 2018.
While it is, of course, essential that wholesalers get sales of their core range working like clockwork, the sector needs to be mindful of the products and categories that will see sales growth in the months ahead.
Next year, we will be introducing 35 new ambient suppliers to our range of fine foods at Cotswold Fayre and a further 40 new chilled suppliers throughout the year.
Here are four areas that will experience a surge in sales next year.
Craft beers and ciders, as well as premium spirits, have seen tremendous growth during this year and this is set to continue next year. More and more new brands are setting up small distilleries and breweries to enter the market, as it is easier than ever to do so. Vodka is even said to be the new gin, although I do not expect gin sales to slow any time soon.
At Cotswold Fayre, we will have new premium alcohol suppliers available, including West Berkshire Brewery, which offers high-quality, distinctive, award-winning real ales.
Millennials are drinking less alcohol than their Generation X forerunners, so as well as the growth in premium alcohol, sales will continue to increase in premium non-alcoholic drinks.
One of our bestselling products is an elderflower sparkling drink masquerading as champagne, made by Braes o Gowrie. There is even a non-alcoholic botanical gin, yet it sits at the same price point as a bottle of craft gin with 40% alcohol and 60% duty!
Meat-reducing diets and complete veganism are widely reported as being the largest current global trend in the world of food. There is still a need for vegetarian products replicating meat items, so we have vegetarian sausages and veggie-burgers.
More recently, however, plant-based diets have been celebrated for what they are – glorious vegetables! This means interesting and unusual fresh produce, such as jackfruit and dragonfruit, are proving very popular on their own and as ingredients.
Secondly, premium meats are coming into play. Meat-reducing diets do mean that consumers are eating meat less often and in turn buying less. But they are spending more per gram on the meat they do buy, as they are looking for high-quality, ethically-sourced products.
Foods that are high in protein but not meat are gathering huge momentum. All sorts of products are being marketed as high-protein, but this trend is particularly strong in the snacking category. Similarly, plant-based proteins are predicted to fly next year, with increased demand for high-protein foods and the rise in flexitarian diets.
However, this year was set to be the year of the insect, so we introduced an insect range to our portfolio at the start of the year. Unfortunately, this did not really take off with our customers. Perhaps 2018 will still be too early for edible insects to fly!
With the sugar tax also coming into play in April, I would expect sales of full-sugar drinks to decline and low-calorie options to increase. However, it remains to be seen whether other sugar-rich products will also come under pressure, such as cakes, biscuits and confectionery.
Paul Hargreaves is chief executive of Cotswold Fayre.