soft drinks sugar

Sugar needs a big stick

Sir, When it comes to removing sugary drinks, Tesco is certainly leading (‘Sugar reduction? Just watch Tesco go, ma’am,’, 19 May). But we need more consistent and ambitious action across the board. The failed Responsibility Deal allowed food and drink industry to police themselves, which, needless to say, did not work. Whilst some manufacturers and retailers are moving in the right direction, we are far from where we need to be, which is why the BRC is calling for mandatory sugar reduction targets and thus a fair, level playing field. Action on Sugar congratulates all companies that have made progress in reformulation so far, but it’s far from enough. How embarrassing it will be, and catastrophic for our future health if the UK government replaces the failed Responsibility Deal with another voluntary system: the Responsibility Deal Mark Two.

Jennifer Rosborough, nutritionist, Action on Sugar

Defending reputations

Sir, ‘Damage to reputation is greatest perceived threat to business,’, 18 May) begs the question: why do so few food business not do more to protect themselves? Businesses that invest in a serious crisis communications plan and regularly test it are significantly better prepared than those who rely on a wing and a prayer. Food businesses need to invest in professional PR support. Consumers will forgive if an organisation communicates what it’s doing to solve the problem in an honest way. The cost of investing in professional advice is a fraction of the long-term cost to an organisation’s reputation.

Michael Bennett, MD, Pelican Communications

Co-op cloverleaf appeal

Sir: The Co-op’s decision to revert back to the classic cloverleaf identity tackles addressing the reputational damage suffered in recent years. It is a signifier of intent to return to the values that have resonated with members for over 170 years; it is also a smart business move.

The Co-op’s ‘new’ identity harks back to more innocent times - the days before corporate speak. When words like ‘authentic’ were used to describe a brand’s bona fides and ‘honesty’ was a given not a brand value - after all who wants to engage with a dishonest brand lacking in credibility?

There will no doubt be cynicism about reclaiming the ethos and identity. However, adopting the colloquial ‘Co-op’ (for the last decade a definite ‘no-no’ in Co-operative HQ) makes the brand feel less serious. The refocusing on membership benefits and a strong community role will speak to a generation of consumers who can see through the fanfare, who want to belong to more than a ‘tribe’ and to do ‘good’ through the choices they make and the brands they buy.

Bernadette Morrison, associate strategy director, Fitch

Waste Not, indeed!

Sir, Your Waste Not Want Not campaign is laudable, to say the least. An industry-wide initiative with true collaboration is sure to significantly accelerate the achievement of food waste reduction goals. A recent survey we carried out found British shoppers are almost universally behind the idea of limiting waste, with 86% saying that they are more careful about avoiding waste these days, This may originally have been borne out of necessity for some as the effects of the recent recession took place - but it has become habitual behaviour for many, even now, when the purse strings don’t need to be held quite as tightly; shoppers are telling us that it isn’t only the pennies they feel they are looking after when making efforts to limit waste, but also the environment - while 55% said they feel their efforts to cut spend by wasting less is making them a more environmentally friendly shopper. And of course, the recent moves by the grocers to limit multibuys (Sainsbury’s being the first out of the block), also talks to shoppers’ agenda of limiting waste, many of whom have got fed up with having to buy more than they need in order to access savings: 80% of British shoppers told us they prefer promotions that save them money rather than giving them more of the same thing… with much of that ‘more’ often ending up in the bin, or the waste disposal unit!

With this in mind, we think The Grocer campaign comes at a timely and relevant point for shoppers.

Iona Carter, director, Shoppercentric