The Coop Journey: 2 Months In!
I’ve just finished my 8th week as the Food to Go buyer at the Coop. It’s certainly had its challenges, but following on from my previous blog, I am still excited and know that the next year is going to provide many learning experiences as I navigate my way through a new category within the Coop. This is the first time that Food to Go drinks has fallen under the FTG category so ‘the world is my proverbial oyster’. Additionally, I have had a few new projects handed my way this week, which I feel extremely lucky to be able to take the lead on. I must be doing something right!
With the number of fantastic coffee, milkshake, smoothie and juice brands that exist in the UK, I could probably fill a warehouse, and it would be lovely to be able to list every single one. I get contacted, as you might expect, by so many suppliers, a lot that aren’t the right fit for the Coop at this point in their journey but have the potential to be the next big thing in the future.
Its extra special, and additionally quite rare, to have conversations with the owners of the various businesses. In parallel to this it is interesting talking to suppliers that really know their own audience and can identify that there are areas their products might not perform (so well). I really value this openness and honesty, as it demonstrates their willingness to build a relationship on strong and honest foundations.
On the flip side there have been some conversations that have been harder to have, and it can be a challenge sometimes to separate your emotions from the commercial business decisions. I am slowly learning that while this is ok, you can’t solve everything. I really recommend listening to this Ted talks if you are similar to me in this aspect.
I am still constantly on the lookout for market data, especially with regards to the recovery of the Food to Go market post Covid. I don’t think anyone can really predict when or if we will get back to pre Covid levels of demand, but we are definitely starting to see seedlings of recovery, which is a very welcome sight!