The low income factor

Sir, What can consumer products businesses do to lessen the impact of rising inflation (‘UK food prices return to inflation according to official statistics,’, 21 March)?

First, review current plans. As prices rise, people will have less disposable income, with negative impacts on companies’ revenues and margins. Second, analyse the customer base by income. Low income groups will be disproportionately impacted by rising inflation and benefit cuts. If a company is targeting this group it may face a double whammy - with the spending downturn hitting it faster, and less latitude for price rises.

Third, examine the supply chain cost model. Businesses could avoid high import prices by sourcing more from UK suppliers. Or use technology to reduce labour costs.

Ed Hudson, executive director, consumer products, EY

Stevia versus obesity

Sir, The sugar reduction targets of Public Health England are a reminder that we should be focusing on maintaining a balanced diet where we eat and drink everything in moderation. Many companies are already working hard to expand the use of healthy sugar alternatives in order to maintain the quality and taste of their products.

PureCircle is the world’s leading supplier of stevia sweeteners, plant-based alternatives to sugar, and we do extensive R&D into the plant, which has zero calories and a sugar-like taste. Stevia sweeteners are natural and up to 400 times sweeter than sugar and help global food and beverage companies reduce sugar levels in their products, while maintaining the same taste and level of sweetness.

Faith Son, vice president, global marketing and innovation, PureCircle

Deaf to my pleas

Sir, I am compelled to write to you about the “joys” of trying to introduce a new potential supplier to the UK supermarkets. For more than five years I have on a regular basis contacted all the UK supermarkets. Most of them cannot even be bothered to acknowledge my emails.

Those that do eventually respond state they have no interest in changing - without even asking to see samples. More so, they have no interest in prices. Others ask that you contact them at a suggested date, and when you do so they either go back to ignoring your emails or state their strategy is now not to make changes. How does a buyer know they are getting the best quality or prices if they behave in this way?

John Houghton, director, Dried Fruit (UK)