As we come to the end of the year, Food Management Today takes a look back at some of the biggest stories that captured readers’ attention in 2018.

Based on reader traffic to the FMT Website from our weekly newsletter, here, in reverse order, is a list of our most popular stories when totalling click through rates throughout the year:

10) Ready meal sales jump 26% while chicken sees 195,000 more shoppers

Kantar Worldpanel data for the 12 weeks to 25th February saw ready meal sales jumping 26% – with Chinese meals in particular rising by more than a quarter. Fresh processed meat and poultry also saw growth, with chicken leading the category.

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9) ‘Price is not a priority for consumers’ research reveals

In May, research from retail consultancy firm Newton indicated that when it comes to choosing a supermarket, price is not a priority for consumers.

It was reported that supermarkets believe ‘price is the priority’, however Newton’s research shows that only 27% of consumers shop at a store due to the cheap products available there.

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8) Meet the Women in Meat Industry Awards finalists!

July saw the finalists being revealed for the Women in Meat Industry Awards 2018.

There were four finalists in each of the categories, and readers were invited to vote for their choice online, based on who they felt made an outstanding contribution to the UK meat industry’s success. Over 3,000 votes were received.

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7) Food industry’s finest revealed by chef John Torode

The annual 2018 Food Management Today Industry Awards were announced in February at a five star celebratory lunch at The Royal Garden Hotel, London, attended by around 300 guests.

A total of 16 accolades were handed out to companies, associations, retailers and manufacturers, plus personalities, that struck a winning chord with readers and a panel of expert judges.

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6) Iceland unveils new ranges as part of plastics-free pledge

Iceland revealed its first product ranges that were expected to save a total of 150 tonnes of plastic every year, following its commitment to eliminate plastic packaging by the end of 2023.

The new street food and children’s range – Mumbai Street Co and Hungry Heroes – was launched in February, as part of the plastics-free initiative in its own-brand products.

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5) Nigel Fredericks to cease trading

In September, FMT was informed that catering butcher Nigel Fredericks had entered administration.

Later on in the year, it was announced that the company had been acquired from appointed administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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4) Iceland, Quorn and Burger King mock KFC for chicken shortage

Food manufacturers, retailers and restaurant chains took to Twitter in February to ‘poke fun’ at KFC amid a chicken supply crisis that forced the company to temporarily close 750 of its outlets.

Iceland proposed that the retailer delivered chicken “in time” instead, whilst Burger King UK was also quick to contribute to the mocking, tweeting: “We knew you were out of chicken but didn’t realise you were out of fries too!”

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3) Russell Hume investigated by Food Standards Agency

Following an unannounced inspection of Russell Hume’s Birmingham site on 12th January, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated it became aware of instances of non-compliance with food hygiene regulations.

This led FSA to investigate all Russell Hume sites, and other locations where its product were stored, in England, Scotland and Wales. The company eventually ceased trading.

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2) Sainsbury’s announces management restructure proposals

Sainsbury’s became the second major retailer to announce management restructure proposals in January, in a bid to introduce a “more efficient and effective structure”.

The proposals were aimed at delivering cost savings, with Simon Roberts, retail and operations director of Sainsbury’s, highlighting that the retailer’s intention was “not to reduce overall headcount as a result of these proposals”.

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1) Cargill and Faccenda unveil Avara Foods

The top story in 2018 was the news that Avara Foods had been unveiled as the joint venture between Cargill’s fresh chicken business in the UK and Faccenda’s fresh chicken, turkey and duck business.

The new joint venture followed Competition and Market Authority (CMA) approval in December 2017 and would be a 50/50 shared ownership between Cargill and Faccenda.

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*Statistics were measured between 1st January and 14th December inclusive