Overall, it was a well balanced affair - albeit not rocket science to those of us in the know. However, it wasn't aimed at food experts, but at the general viewing public. From their point of view I think Gregg Wallace - my celebrity chum, who sent me a text message before the show telling me to watch, in a thinly veiled attempt to boost his ratings - delivered.
For those who missed it, Gregg focused on the changes in consumer buying behaviour during difficult times. He talked about the increased sales of value or basic range products, which are enabling the big five to "help the consumer in these tough economic climes", but also to better compete with each other and the discounters. He also examined the developing battle between the big brand owners and the multiples, as well as the rising popularity of frozen products. We then saw Iceland's Malcolm Walker extolling the virtues (and "freshness") of frozen veg over fresh produce.
Gregg used a sample family to test various retail channels and the 'cheaper' products/frozen food items versus their 'normal' shopping practice. It was fascinating to see the response to the value/cheap range of products from a well known retailer. In short, the family saved approx 20% in cost terms versus their normal products, but ended up chucking a lot of the products away because they were not good enough.
This confirmed something that we all know: quality always sells. People might want to save money, but they like what they like and find it tough to change long-standing buying habits that are based on brand loyalty, both to retail own label or "well known makes", simply because of taste and the consistent quality of the food.
It all goes to show that quality products or services always win the day, no matter how tough things get. This was evident again last Thursday at the SuperMeat & Fish Awards in London. The winners were recognized for the quality and innovation of the various products, with emphasis on new, unusual and tasty. There was only one award for a 'low cost/value product', but many prizes for quality items. This was further trumpeted by the awards for the best regional meat and fish retailers, which were, of course, fundamentally credited to the people behind the ideas, selling, marketing, manufacture, distribution, merchandising and retailing of those quality products. See, I knew I could get it back to my normal subject.
Guy Moreton is director of recruitment practitioner MorePeople.