After another tough few months for grocery – and the UK at large – it was reassuring to read this morning that Omicron may be less severe than originally feared.

Two studies have suggested the Covid variant might be less dangerous than its predecessors, with one showing those who test positive with Omicron are 25% less likely to attend hospital than those with other variants.

It is, as health chiefs have been quick to point out, to early to ditch caution just yet. The data is not conclusive, and even if Omicron does prove to be milder, the sheer number of daily cases (which topped 100,000 for the first time on Wednesday), means the NHS could still be overwhelmed unless we all act sensibly.

But still, it’s a welcome piece of good news as we approach Christmas and prepare to wave goodbye to 2021. A year most of us will be glad to see the back of. Indeed, it was hard to imagine a year that could be more challenging than 2020. But for many, 2021 delivered just that. 

Regardless of the outcome of this fourth wave of the pandemic, there will be challenges aplenty ahead for food and drink in 2022. Inflation is looming on the horizon, alongside new regulatory challenges and ongoing uncertainty around trade and border checks.


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But amid the inevitable change the food and drink sector will be forced to undergo, there will also be opportunities.

So let’s raise a glass to everything we have survived in 2021 and look forward to 2022, whatever it may bring.

In the meantime, The Grocer team will be taking a well-earned break over the festive period. Our normal service (including newsletters) will resume from 4 January.

But we’ll still be serving up fresh content to enjoy with your mince pies. Keep an eye on for our review of 2021: including roundups on everything from the most bizarre innovation to the biggest stories of the year.

Plus, we will be taking a peek into the new year with a lowdown on what’s coming up for grocery in 2022, as well as some insight into what will happen with commodity prices.

Which leaves me to wish all our readers a relaxing festive break and a happy and healthy new year.