January has seen a slow start to the month for the UK free-buy trade. Potato packers continue to meet demand primarily on contract, not unusual for January trade, but seemingly more emphasised than usual.
With restrictions tightened across the UK, the chip shop trade is said to function as ‘hand-to-mouth’, as the uncertainty of changing policy makes future planning difficult. January is usually a quiet month for the chipping trade though so normality by Easter is what’s really required.
Trade remains relatively strong as participants progress through the month, though the majority of this trade is fulfilled on contract and free-buy demand remains stagnant. Consumers are once again required to stay at home for a third lockdown, channelling demand to retailers.
As opportunities to eat out-of-home are curbed, there is an anticipation of rising consumer demand as seen in the first lockdown. The uplift isn’t to the same extent as first-time round, with panic buying habits not present, but strong demand will likely continue.