But saving the planet isn’t going to go away in grocery. Yes, consumers aren’t thinking too much about the environment right now. But supermarkets and suppliers can’t afford to drop the ball, and not because some militant and media-savvy NGO might expose them.
No. It’s the alternative to going green that’s the issue. Consumers can hop in their car, leave the front door wide open, eat Kenyan beans morning noon and night; but a wasteful and inefficient business is less profitable, which is why so many of the ‘green’ stories we’ve served up in this issue are also about strides that have been made to cut costs.
There will be plenty more of those to come in the next few months, even if some won’t be green in hue (energy is the second-highest cost in grocery, but people cost more). If there is a silver lining in the momentous events of this week, however, it is the fact that record wheat and rice harvests have coincided with a fall in the price of oil.
That means prices are sure to fall. So it was with brilliant timing that Asda’s Andy Bond called the top of the market: firstly because he announced the 5,000 price cuts the day after the Wall Street Crash (though most were planned months ago of course), but also because it stole Tesco’s thunder.
We all know of the Cheshunt crew’s chameleon-like ability to mimic and match competitors, however small (not so long ago it was launching organic veggie boxes). But are the discounters so big a threat that it must declare itself ‘Britain’s Biggest Discounter’? Surely it hasn’t escaped its notice that the discounters’ share is actually lower than it was five years ago.