As our 2007 preview special confirms (see page 28) there's lots to look forward to in the year ahead. Under attack on many sides, the industry is responding incredibly positively to the challenges, and the trading environment is more encouraging and, frankly, more interesting, than for some years, with the single-track EDLP agenda having given way to a wider range of issues (despite the announcement of new price cuts by Tesco and Asda this week).
Even in its demonisation by government, watchdogs, quangos and large swathes of the national media I am also encouraged. This week, of course, saw the launch of the biggest-ever joint initiative by the industry, in support of GDAs. The Evening Standard's sensationalist front-page headline ('Health alert on Mars bars') this week, on a story that, in the end, amounted to the announcement by Masterfoods of a voluntary decision to include GDAs on the front of its confectionery, gives an idea of the challenge ahead.
However, it's great to see the FDF has got its act together, using senior industry executives such as Pepsico UK president Salman Amin (labelling), Fiona Dawson at Masterfoods (sustainability) and Jim Moseley at General Mills (food safety) to spearhead its responses to key issues, and also working at last, alongside government, academics, NGOs and others to develop a social marketing strategy that will tackle childhood obesity in a rounded way.
I also see real evidence that the food and drink industry's responses are already working, with a marked increase in awareness of and consumption of healthier food options, and the reformulation of products leading to tangible health benefits, including a reduction of salt by 50 million teaspoons in Tesco's top 500 own-label products alone last year.
And with Gordon Brown a racing certainty to move to No 10 in the summer, expect health minister Caroline 'How to Peel a Banana' Flint out of a job. Apparently, they don't get on. Shame.