It’s always tempting, as a journalist, to focus on the negative. As the old saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads”. And there’s no shortage of bloodletting in The Grocer’s Top Products Survey this year, including a disastrous decline in milk sales the ignominy of Premier’s £37m recorded losses among its leading brands and volume declines in over 50% of the 85 categories.

But doom and gloom is well covered, as a story, in the media. And I want to focus my last leader of 2011 on innovators. In a bizarre twist of timing, the three leading pieces of innovation in 2011 all launched in March: Walkers Crinkles Stella Cidre and Innocent fruit juice cartons. Arguably, there the similarity ends. But each tells us something about the society we now live in.

Once upon a time, it was only Christmas tins of Quality Street that were for sharing. Today, sharing is a year-round occasion, and Crinkles ticks that box - as consumers stay in, they’re a treat to be shared in front of Strictly, X-Factor and Corrie on the Big Night In. It also fills a gap in the Walkers portfolio that McCoy’s had previously delivered. And it’s been rewarded with £30m in sales in its first six months. (Tyrrells is enjoying similar success, albeit on a smaller scale, on the back of the same dual formula.)

Stella Cidre marks an equally dramatic shift in consumer behaviour: as tastes grow sweeter, cider sales have soared. And for brewers of bitter and lager, the long-term implications are serious as, once again, volume sales declined. However, AB InBev’s brave decision to use Stella Artois, its leading brand, to support its entry into the cider category, has already turned into a stroke of genius. Sales would have been even higher than the £27m it recorded had it been able to meet demand.

My final salute is to Innocent. At the onset of the recession in 2008, it was written off, and very nearly came to grief as consumers rejected smoothies and juices as a discretionary spend. Credit, then, to its entrepreneurial founders, who followed their hunch that healthy, delicious food remained a long-term trend, and swallowed their pride to do so. The best-performing sports and energy drink, Monster, grew sales by £18.7m. Innocent’s new cartons beat it hands down, with £22m.