The World Cup and the warm weather have resulted in excellent sales growth for convenience retailers and their wholesalers.

P&H's Mace, for example, put on 7.2% growth during the World Cup and its success in the period mirrored the prevailing sentiment.

The profits gained from the strong sales performance mean more than just money in the bank. The sector as a whole has gained an underlying strength and resilience. But we will need every ounce of both over coming months and it is vital we do not allow a good period to give us false confidence.

While the possibility of a double dip is widely contested, the lead story in this week's issue will add to concerns that raw material price increases could destabilise the economy. Poor crop yields on silage caused, ironically, by the same unseasonably warm conditions are likely to produce unavoidable inflationary pressure on meat and poultry prices.

Milling wheat invariably follows sooner or later, and, with major shortages in countries such as Russia, it adds up to a major headache for the market. In addition, although the wholesale and independent sector has been enjoying strong sales growth, consumer caution overall has seen branded fmcg manufacturers put in a sluggish performance. Again, this gives rise to fears of price rises.

This is a time for the industry as a whole to pull together. Manufacturers must implement price changes uniformly across wholesale and retail and not discriminate, as they usually do, in favour of key multiples; and independents must use the resilience they have gained from a season of sales growth to drive footfall and spend by pushing value, stocking price- marked packs and passing on promotional bonuses.

Suppliers, wholesalers and retailers must pull together and pool collective wisdom. Either we ensure we can deal with rising prices responsibly or regulators will attempt to do it for us. That would not be to anyone's advantage.

Guest editor Chris Etherington is chief executive of Palmer & Harvey.

Read more
Bitter harvest: get set for 10% food price hike (31 July 2010)
Etherington: P&H ‘is where we want it to be’ (31 July 2010)