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Veganism received a huge push in the media this month with the launch of the now-infamous Greggs vegan sausage roll, as a result of which the bakery chain reported soaring sales. The Veganuary campaign had its most successful to date, with a record-breaking 250,310 people from 190 countries around the world signing up to take part in the month-long pledge. Meanwhile, Tesco announced it would be closing counters in around 90 of its stores.
The Midcounties Co-operative in Gloucestershire was the UK’s first major retailer to make it mandatory for food and drink suppliers to tell shoppers where their ingredients are sourced from, in a bid to deliver consumer transparency along the food chain.
March saw the launch of the first Future Food Awards – a collaboration between Speciality Food and The FoodTalk Show – to celebrate the new brands and innovations revolutionising the food and drink industry. Brexit uncertainty continued, with the government announcing the UK’s temporary tariff regime in the event of a no-deal.
Barnsley-based Cannon Hall Farm Shop was named Retailer of the Year at the Farm Shop & Deli Awards, as well as picking up the North East regional and Farm Shop Large Retailer accolades. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the proposed merger of Sainsbury’s and Asda, stating in its report that it would lead to expected price rises, reduced quality and choice of products available and poorer shopping experiences.
Cotswold Fayre celebrated its 20th anniversary by hosting a major environmental conference for suppliers in the food and drink sector, with presentations on topics such as biodegradable packaging.
The government announced Natasha’s Law, which requires businesses to provide a full ingredients list on pre-packaged foods. The new legislation followed the tragic death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse after an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette in 2016, and is planned to come into force by summer 2021.
The dairy industry came together to see The Bath Soft Cheese Company win Supreme Champion at the International Cheese Awards for its Wyfe of Bath cheese. Managing director Hugh Padfield said that it was an “achievement that every cheesemaker dreams of, for a small rural business like ours it’s incredible.” In other news Macknade Food Hall celebrated its 40th birthday with the acquisition of a new site in Ashford.
News broke across the world about the thousands of fires in the Amazon rainforest, with many of them started to make way for agricultural purposes. More than 50 major retailers signed a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid demanding action be taken to fix the business rates system. The letter, coordinated by the BRC, was signed by retailers including ASDA, Marks & Spencer and Iceland.
In show news, it was announced that IFE would be joining up with HRC and Pro2Pac for a new annual event, starting from March 2021 at London’s ExCel. Chancellor Sajid Javid announced his plan to raise the National Living Wage to £10.50 within the next five years. Luxury retailer Fortnum & Mason unveiled its revamped confectionery department, complete with 150 new chocolates for its loose chocolate counter.
Nourished was pronounced the inaugural Supreme Champion of the Future Food Awards, having impressed judges with its innovative personalisation technology. The Brexit deadline of the 31st came and went, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson forced to request an extension date of January 2020.
Flooding affected homes and businesses across the northern parts of the UK. According to the NFU, heavy rainfall across mainly the East Midlands and North East left thousands of acres of farmland under water, with the organisation calling for a long-term strategic plan. The government announced grants of up to £25,000 for farmers affected by the flooding.
Millions went out to cast their vote on the 12th in the general election, with the Conservatives winning by the largest majority since the 1980s. PM Boris Johnson’s main campaign promise was to “get Brexit done”.
Image credit: CLiQQ Studios, Toby Essex