How pro-active are you at providing what your shoppers want? I ask because I spoke to a convenience store retailer recently who told me he had just started stocking low-salt and low-sugar lines. But the interesting bit was that he was not responding to demand, he was trying to create it.

You see he’d heard a lot of about the health brigade’s bid to get us to cut down on salt and sugar. Plus he’d seen that Tesco was removing certain sugary drinks from their shelves. so he thought he’d dip his toe in the low salt/sugar waters so to speak. However, he wasn’t just going to put them on his shelves and see if they sold, he was going to actively engage with his customers, asking them if they were interested in such lines for themselves and their children. I must say, I was impressed.

Survey after survey says that independent stores can score over the grocery multiples by knowing their customers and what those customers want. But I think that some retailers take the ’I’m local so they’ll like me’ approach and don’t talk to their customers enough. So three cheers for any retailers who are on the shopfloor listening and reacting or, even better as per my aforementioned retailer, acting then engaging.

As for those low salt/sugar lines, ones to watch out for include Heinz’s soups especially as soup season is just around the corner. Although as I write this and look out of the window and see the wind and the rain, it looks like winter has already arrived.

Heinz has taken its classic recipes: cream of tomato; vegetable; cream of chicken; and carrot & coriander; and changed the recipes so they contain 25% less salt. In addition, three of the soups have no added sugar. And cream of tomato has 30% less sugar than the standard variety after all you can’t tinker with a favourite like that too much.

The four soups are called Heinz Balance 25% Less Salt.

Also available is a new 50% less sugar Heinz Beanz product, which is replacing its current offering, which has 30% less sugar than standard Beanz.

The company reports that ’healthy beans’ is a ’significant’ sub-sector of the ’beans and accompaniments’ category although it adds that it’s worth 7% of the market by volume, which to me does not sound that substantial.