This blog post is taken from an email send-out our founder Mike made on 20.3.21.
Where do you live?
Near a supermarket, that’s where. It might be an Asda, perhaps a Morrisons; there’s always a Tesco, at least within cycling distance. And supermarkets are great, I mean really. They help us shop cheaply, they give us the gourmet stuff, there’s the booze, the painkillers, they have the greetings card you need, and they even have a cafetiere if your previous one just popped its clogs.
As Mr.Nutcessity guy, I get asked all the time: ‘When will you be getting your nut butters into a supermarket?’
This isn’t just from friends and family, but from FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) people - potential investors, industry experts, randoms from NYC who email me generically asking me whether I want their help with digital marketing.
My answer is usually, if not probably, very confused. Getting my nut butters into a supermarket is the gold-ticket, (apparently), I can reach the stars with a supermarket listing and sell gazillions of nut butters for gabillions. With it comes ‘security’ and a small measure of notoriety.
Guy Singh-Watson begs to differ. In his column in this week’s Riverford box, he said a supermarket buyer once told him: ‘When we whistle, you jump’ before putting the phone down on him. It’s not the first time I’ve heard a cringe-worthy account of what it’s like to be at the mercy of a big, important customer who understands their vice-grip position. ‘Security’ comes in many different forms, then.
Typically a small food & drink brand like mine needs to prove that their product range will work for x/y/z supermarket, quite often within the realms of a 30-minute negotiation. There’s a whole load of to-and-fro surrounding cost price, number of stores listed, exclusivity possibilities, secondary shelf-space, fixed investment, minimum life of product on receipt of goods (MLOR), payment terms, social media investment, promo range/frequency/offer. It’s a hugely important conversation that means, at least on an individual basis, more to the small food brand that it does to the buyer.
There’s a chasm, a whole continent, between small food & drink brands and the supermarkets, and the necessity of making a first supermarket listing work is, I can now see, totally critical, and only worth proceeding with if profit is visible.
I attended a 45-minute webinar yesterday, listening in on 3 small independent wholefood shop owners and their trials and tribulations over the last year or so. The one piece that struck me the most was the honest, convincing and totally understandable strategy for choosing which products to range: ‘We are actively looking to only work with brands that support the independents and don’t work with supermarkets’. The reason? The supermarket price-point is almost always cheaper (due to volume), meaning customers, like you, shop for that product at Sainsbury’s rather than the indie, and really, can anyone blame you?
My biggest worry, during lockdown 3 especially, has been the nature of customers moving away from their local independent towards a weekly supermarket shop, and by doing so, putting small independents right on the brink of going under. Supermarkets have had the time and the chance to prepare well for lockdown 3, and now they’re thriving. But the small indies, away from large car parks, are (generally) struggling.
It’s my obligation to look after the people and the shops that have put their confidence and cash behind me and Nutcessity over the past 4 years. A listing with Asda tomorrow would not only break the bank, but break the willingness for small shop owners to put their trust in new and emerging food & drink brands.
Sure - shop at your supermarket, but PLEASE don’t do exclusively, unless you absolutely have to, or unless you don’t mind the high street collapsing.
When you shop at your local, you’ll be:
- Giving the chance to small, up-and-coming new food & drink brands,
- Supporting a textured, real-life, risk-taking entrepreneur (yep, the shop owner),
- Supporting local people who have jobs at their local community store,
- Finding delicious, earth-friendly products that don’t necessarily bow to the charms of supermarket buyers,
- Keeping yourself safe (I’ll bet that statistically, small shops with limited numbers of entrants is much safer that a supermarket shop; sure, you can shop online, but is that really ‘ideal’?).
One day I’d love for Nutcessity to partner with Booths, Ocado, M&S and Waitrose. But don’t expect it to be anytime soon, and don’t think it won’t bring risk the business. And, if I get that listing, you’ll bet I’ll be upfront about it to all the small shops who’ve supported Nutcessity’s growth.
Click here to see the 300+ independent shops, delis and fine food halls that support Nutcessity today. They rock! And so do you. You’d be good together.
Mike Duckworth - Nutcessity Founder.