2013 was the year of the u-turn. In February (23rd) a review into the controversial Portas Pilot scheme was shelved. In March there was a u-turn on minimum pricing (23rd). June (8th) saw Unilever reintroduce the original Flora formula after its £29m revamp tanked with consumers. Asda did an about face on its Responsibility Deal pledge not to place booze in its foyers in September after rival retailers failed to follow its lead (7th Sept). But the biggest u-turn of the year was over the ongoing saga of plain tobacco packaging. The PM is thought to be a fan of plain packs so it was a surprise when in June the government said it was putting plans on hold while it assessed their impact in Australia.
This seemed like a perfectly sensible approach given that the result of its long running consultation into plain packaging, which attracted more than 650,000 responses, was inconclusive. However in the wake of the decision it copped a huge amount of flak from the health lobby and political opponents over its links with the tobacco industry and the role of David Cameron’s election strategist Lynton Crosby, whose lobby firm previously worked for Philip Morris. Funny then that five months later plain packs came hurtling back on to the agenda as the DH announced a new independent review chaired by a leading paediatrician. The industry’s fight will therefore go on but it seems that after its u-u-turn the government may have at least stopped spinning.
Read The Grocer’s Review of the Year 2013.