Kevin Hawkins

Dr Kevin Hawkins

I am not so optimistic

Sir, None of the ‘movers and shakers’ featured in your ‘Highlights, predictions and resolutions’ for 2018 seem to have acknowledged the biggest single threat to all their ambitions: the anticipated fall in consumer confidence and spending that most forecasters are expecting.

The number of retailers who went bust last year was 28% up on 2016 and the combination of business rates, wage costs and price hikes from suppliers will almost certainly increase that tally this year.

Nor did most of them face up to the continuing uncertainty surrounding this on-going Brexit folly. Maybe they think focusing on currently fashionable upmarket dietary preferences will insulate them. Richard Lim’s excellent Saturday Essay in the same issue should disabuse anyone who thinks exiting the EU won’t have an impact.

Ian Wright, by contrast, is fully switched on to the challenge ahead and I wish him well in his ambition to make the FDF the food industry’s first port of call for Brexit-related issues.

Dr Kevin Hawkins OBE

RIP Richard Cousins

Sir, I only took real interest in Richard Cousins’ tragic accident because I knew about his eldest son, Will, being such a dynamic force in Open Britain. Then, the more I read, the more I belatedly recognised his father’s significant achievements. I’ll leave it to others who knew him to talk about his warmth of character and how he transformed Compass. But, after reading his obituary, I need to say a very respectful RIP to him.

Martin Ballantine, Piracy Corporation

Show more bottle

Sir, In recent months a variety of recycling and deposit schemes have been gaining column inches. I support this, but how can impactful changes materialise when the brands that can lead the charge get away with the bare minimum? Only a handful have proactively invested in schemes with longevity. Case in point - Starbucks’ 5p cup charge is only being rolled out in up to 25 outlets. Where’s the real effort?

Brands should take responsibility to educate and guide customers in alternative choices while putting the environment front of mind when considering innovation. And they should work with the government to truly create impact - so that the revenue from deposit schemes and levies is invested in preventative solutions.

Sumen Rannie, commercial director, SodaStream UK