...you’re in for a bumpy ride in 2005. Last year the industry was well and truly under the spotlight thanks to the Public Health White Paper, continued c-store consolidation and the troubles at Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer. And it can expect more of the same this year.

Over the next four pages, The Grocer identifies the 10 issues we think will shape the industry this year and ask top industry names and commentators for their predictions.

It’s set to be an even bigger issue as detail of the Public Health White Paper is thrashed out and the impact of smoking bans, new advertising rules and traffic-light labelling initiatives is felt.

The nanny state:
With the general election in May another hike in the National Minimum Wage - and more regulation - looms large.

Last year there were definite signs that innovation was being stifled as deflation took hold - 2005 could be the year of do or die.

Pressures on retailers and suppliers will mount and so will the need to avoid relationships between the two becoming increasingly strained.

The Grocer Top 50 took a bashing last year and it looks as though it’s going to take another hit this year, which could well prompt more strident calls for regulation.

The Backlash:
Last year saw the politicians get together with the media and consumers to fuel a backlash against the big supermarkets, particularly Tesco. This year it’s going to get worse. But will there be another inquiry into the sector?

The Fall-out:
Last year was a difficult time for Sainsbury, M&S and, to a lesser extent, Morrisons and the Co-operative Group. Will the fall-out continue to play into the hands of Tesco?

Growth areas:
As trading conditions get tougher, the big retailers are increasingly looking to new avenues for growth and this year non-food won’t be the only big ticket.

The Detail:
The devil’s in it and that’s where retailers and suppliers will be renewing their efforts to improve every aspect of their business - particularly availability, supply chain efficiencies and packaging.

Corporate Social Responsibility:
It’s the year to put your house in order if you haven’t done so or, if you have, to show the politicians, the media and anyone else involved in the current witch hunt that, actually, you are good corporate citizens.