2000… FSA founded… The Food Standards Agency is created to deal with food safety issues and is immediately thrust into action with the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. Its involvement in health and obesity is eventful but ultimately temporary.
2000… Tesco logs on… In 1984 72-year-old Jane Snowball orders a delivery from her local Tesco using her TV remote control. Eleven years later, Tesco offers customers the option to order groceries online. Tesco.com is later launched at the height of the dotcom boom
2000… Compare the market… When Zoomit, Dondecomprar and Shopgenie merge to form Kelkoo, few people bat an eyelid, but over the course of the next decade shopping is transformed as price comparison websites bring power to the people like never before.
2002… The fat lady sings… When Labour came to power in 1997 a key pledge was to ban all tobacco advertising. It took five years to push through but the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act saw virtually all tobacco advertising phased out over a three-year period. Tobacco press and billboard ads are outlawed in February 2003, direct marketing is banned three months later and the sponsorship of sporting events starts from July 2003. A later EU directive applies the ban to F1 and other sporting events in the EU by 2005.
2002… Five-a-day programme… A campaign to make the nation eat more healthily by increasing intake of fruit and veg. A tonne of government-promoted healthy eating initiatives, including Change4Life, launch in its wake, but none has the resonance of this one.
2002… Tesco buys T&S… Catching everyone by surprise, Tesco’s acquisition of T&S Stores in 2002 for just shy of £400m helps the retailer take the Express train to dominating convenience as the number two c-store multiple.
2002… Launch of Nectar… By the time you’ve finished reading this paragraph, 220 Nectar cards will have been swiped across the UK. To date more than £1.5bn worth of rewards have been spent by more than 18 million collectors.
2004… Instant rice an instant success… The US was first to benefit from microwaveable rice, with Zatarain’s and Uncle Ben’s launching pouch products in 2004, but the success of Veetee and Tilda’s in the UK has shown this is among the biggest events in convenience food history.
2004… Morrisons buys Safeway… While the initial integration was a disaster, the £3bn purchase of Safeway, following a fierce bidding war, was ultimately hugely important in putting Morrisons on the same playing field as the other major mults.
2004… The first major reformulation… PepsiCo kickstarts its reformulation programme. Within a couple of years it removes 40,000 tonnes of saturated fat and 2,4000 tonnes of salt from its Walkers crisps range. Kellogg’s and Mars soon follow suit on the reformulation trail
2005… Turkey Twizzlers fizzle out… Manufactured by Bernard Matthews, this formed meat product was withdrawn from sale after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver lambasts processed foods that provide zero nutritional benefits in his seminal TV series Jamie’s School Dinners.
2007… Smoking in public is banned… It’s the final nail in the coffin for pubs, claims the on-trade, but the landlord’s loss is the supermarkets’ gain as the ban drives increasing off-trade booze sales. The next year Britons drink more beer at home than in a pub for the first time in history.
2007… Unification of co-ops… The UK’s largest co-ops join forces, with United Co-op CEO Peter Marks, a longtime advocate of a unified Co-op movement, taking over as boss. The society buys Somerfield two years later for £1.57bn to become the UK’s fifth-biggest player
2007… Ofcom junks food ads… Ofcom introduces a ban on junk food advertising surrounding all kids’ programming. While the restrictions were harsher than the grocery industry feared, it could have been worse, with health lobbyists pushing for a complete pre-watershed ban.
2007… Kwik Save’s slow death… As the UK enters its worst post-war recession, one of the first high-profile casualties is discount supermarket chain Kwik Save, after its unsuccessful demerger from Somerfield. A year later Woolworths follows Kwik Save into UK oblivion
2008… Scottish & Newcastle sold… Britain’s last big brewer falls into foreign hands as Heineken and Carlsberg snap up the multinational for £7.8bn. The lure for Carlsberg is S&N’s 50% stake in Russian brewer Baltika, which gives it outright ownership of a powerhouse BRIC market
2009… Kraft buys Cadbury… The bitter hostile takeover wrapped up by US giant Kraft with a killer £12bn bid left a bad taste in the mouth, in a sad ending to the glorious 185-year history of Cadbury as a British business and social reform concern.
2009… Ocado launches first app… The UK’s first online supermarket grocer has been a marvel of technological innovation, with the launch of Ocado on the Go, the UK’s first smartphone grocery app, particularly impressive. The future will decide if Ocado’s unique CFC model works.
2010… Amazon enters UK grocery… Its range may puzzle many retail analysts but it’s clear Amazon is taking its foray into the online UK grocery market seriously after it parachutes in US head of grocery Bram Duchovnay to oversee its UK operation a year after launch.
2011… Health claims in disarray… As EFSA clamps down on healthy claims, the functional foods industry is in disarray as even the most anaemic claims are thrown out. With the EU health claim regulation coming in this year, only 20% of claims have been upheld.
2011… The future of grocery?… Tesco’s South Korean arm Home Plus certainly seems to think so. The retailer transforms Seoul’s Hanganjin subway Station into a ‘virtual store’, which allows communters to do a spot of shopping on their way to work. They scan product posters attached to the station walls to fill up their ‘virtual baskets’, and by the time they get home that evening their goods have been delivered. Home Plus is looking to roll out the initiative across the country. In the summer Ocado begins trialling virtual shopping in London, too.
The Grocer's 150 defining moments: the 1860s
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The Grocer's 150 defining moments: 2000-present