Marmite doffs hat to Ma’am in her Jubilee year

The patriotic fervour whipped up in the UK throughout the summer of 2012 prompted a proliferation of Union flags on all manner of different products.

Some efforts were, frankly, rather lame - remember Sourz Spirited Summer Berry, dressed in sparkly Union flag, or Millies’ dodgy Jubilee cookies? At least these brands were British though. French Lanson and US-owned Tabasco had no excuse for the shameless bandwagon jumping.

Quite what impact all this flag waving had on the bottom line is debatable. But not all the attempts at patriotism jarred quite so much. PG Tips and McVitie’s - purveyors of perhaps two of the greatest British products - happily adorned their tea and biscuit packaging with the Union flag. And it worked.

But for us, the award for patriot of the year 2012 had to go to Unilever’s Marmite, renamed ‘Ma’amite’ in homage to Her Majesty as she celebrated her 60th year on the throne. Simple, effective and fun to boot.

And what better bread to spread the Ma’amite on than… Queensmill (as Allied Bakeries cunningly renamed Kingsmill for the Jubilee)? With lashings of limited edition, Union flag adorned, Great British Country Life butter of course.

Simon Creasey


Fuss Pots oust Little Dish from Sainsbury’s

Don’t think for a minute that it’s all sweetness and light in the baby and kids food category. In 2012 the knitted mittens came off.

In 2011, Annabel Karmel’s ready meals offer was sent packing from Tesco after Little Dish muscled in on its space. But it seems revenge is a dish best served… in convenient packaging and four flavour variants likely to appeal to the fussiest of toddlers. Almost exactly a year after its Tesco’s delisting, Karmel launched its new Fuss Pots range of microwaveable meals, ousting seven Little Dish lines from Sainsbury’s.

Vince Bamford


Olympic dreams are dashed for grocery Team GB

It didn’t only rain on the Olympic torch relay last summer. Grocery’s hopes for an Olympic boost to sales got a drenching too - even when the sun came out as the event and GB’s record medal haul got underway.

Tier-one sponsor Coca-Cola, one of the relay’s main sponsors, had forecast that the Games would ‘turbocharge’ its summer performance. Unfortunately, the turbocharger backfired. Value sales of Coca-Cola itself inched up just 1.8% in the year to October as Pepsi-Cola’s sales surged 11% [Nielsen 52 w/e 13 October], without any help from the Olympic circus. Across all 19 Coke-owned brands in the UK, value sales were up 5% but volumes fell 0.9% - strip star performer Innocent out of the equation and value climbed 2.1% while volumes were down 3.1%.

retailers didn’t strike gold either. As Olympic fever mounted, an exclusive poll for The Grocer revealed that 78% of indie retailers close to Games venues expected a boost to business from the event. Afterwards, just 58% said this had materialised. The results in London were even more damning: only 48% had benefited. The impact on the mults was negligible too, with Paralympic sponsor Sainsbury’s the only clear winner.

Rob Brown


Britvic Fruit Shoots itself in the foot

Britvic had a miserable time of it last year after ‘Fruit Shooting’ itself in the foot with the recall of kids’ soft drinks brand Fruit Shoot in July.

The company was forced to completely withdraw the product from sale after problems were discovered with a new sports cap - manufactured by Austrian packaging giant Alpla - when one became dislodged in the mouth of a six-year-old boy, causing him to choke but leaving no lasting harm.

In addition to the costs associated with administering the recall, Britvic had to suffer the sales loss to the flagship kids’ brand, which retailers temporarily replaced with rival and own-label brands - and in some cases, had not restocked to pre-recall levels months down the line.

Britvic’s original estimate that the recall would set it back £15m to £25m proved to be pretty much on the money with the company announcing in November that the final cost was likely to be £24.9m, not including the cost to sales, reputation and relaunch.

Simon Creasey


‘Trading conditions’ to blame for Ugo’s demise, says Harris

Top marks for persistence but zero for execution go to Arthur Harris, the man behind Ugo and Bakery Products, which both went to the wall in 2012.

Having already failed with Haldanes in 2011, there was little surprise in February when Poundstretcher revealed it had bought Ugo out of administration. The creditors report a month later revealed it was sold for just over £80,000, having “encountered financial problems since commencement”.

Soon afterwards, the Harris-backed Bakery Products went under too. The Tindale & Stanton part was bought out by management, while a new company has also been formed called Howards Bakery - in which Harris is involved.

Harris, who resolutely maintains that Ugo would have prospered in “normal trading conditions” still has an axe to grind. He’s now waging a war via Twitter against the asset-based finance industry.

Beth Phillips