Speciality wholesaler Epicurium is ramping up its value-led range alongside support for retailers on major legislation such as high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS), and the deposit return scheme (DRS).
The company has traditionally specialised in premium products, such as protein balls, soft drinks designed for healthier lifestyles and free-from snacks. However, it has decided to add more affordable products to its range to help retailers in the inflationary climate.
The firm’s managing director, Ben McKechnie, told our sister title RN: “We’re really focusing on our core retailers and sharpening the offer. The cost-of-living crisis is a challenge, but I don’t think that will cancel out healthier lifestyles.
“Convenience store customers will buy less, but they’ll get products with better quality, such as protein and indulgent snacks. They will cut out brands that don’t identify with their own lifestyle.
Read more: Epicurium: A wholesaler with a difference
“We’ve got more than 1,000 lines and we’re extending this with brands that offer healthier versions of crisps, for example. There’ll be more value, and less premium pricing.”
Epicurium has also been training its staff to provide more education to retailers on major legislation, such as HFSS. Introduced in October, the restriction prohibits retailers with a sales floor space of 2,000sq ft or more from displaying unhealthy snacks on aisle ends, at the till and in designated queuing areas. In October 2023, the legislation will restrict multibuy offers.
McKechnie said: “A third of our product range is compliant with HFSS and there’s been a lot of activity. We’re focusing on advice to give to retailers as there can still be confusion over what is required. Convenience stores are taking a pragmatic approach to it.”
Similarly, DRS will be launched in Scotland from August 2023, requiring customers to pay a small deposit on soft drinks in single-use containers. The customer gets their deposit back when they return the bottle to a convenience store.
However, wholesalers have warned of potential strain on capacity. This is referring to depots that serve both England and Scotland, and whether they would have to stock an additional DRS-compliant version of an existing product.
Commenting on the challenge for the County Durham-based firm, McKechnie said: “It’s very unclear how DRS will work and its impact on stores. We’re trying to work it out and assess the impact. It’s currently hard to make set plans and we can only come up with different scenarios.”
He added that Epicurium is currently in negotiations to add a “high-profile retail chain” to its list of customers.