Friday, 24 July 2009

Plastics or not..

Plastic- solution or not?
Wrapid and Moving Food views are ours…of course you choose yours…

When you say plastic is everywhere you mean everywhere, in food containers; in bottles used to feed infants; in raincoats; in eye glasses and safety helmets; in phones; in clothing; in toys; in bandages; and in cosmetics and some medicines.

Many scientists say man made components in plastics- particularly in a group of compounds called phthalates and a chemical known as bisphenol A or BPA - can leach harmful chemicals, which are absorbed into the body. Some even blame plastics for increased rates of cancer, asthma, neurological disorders and infertility.

The Centre for Health Environment and Justice (CHEJ) speaking recently in Dubai said they were seeking a total ban on these consumer products. Needless to say our plastic and related vinyl industry refers to this as scare campaigns.

So for us in the Food Catering arena and at Wrapid, we discuss at length what we can do what does this mean for our brand :
Firstly BPA, its in bottle tops to dental sealant to food packaging, some 93% of us will have BPA in our urine (survey in 2008 on 3k people) this means it is in your body chemistry and body tissue and blood stream, arguably for decades….this could mean that our bodies know how to expel it or not? Before it hits our urine what is it doing to our tissue?
Clearly we know BPA’s leach out of containers when heated, so from bags of pasta sauce to soups to gastronorms of ingredients would be affected in Catering Services industry, but also in ready meal containers. How many products on pub to restaurant products come chilled or frozen that are micro-waved or reheated in their plastic containers in our domestic or catering ovens?
Phthaltes, the other component in plastic is even more controversial, of this compound two are under international scrutiny, DEHP, found mostly in medical products and DINP found in toys, plastic cutlery, some containers in the airline catering field. These affect the reproductive system and endocrine systems….not in Wrapid packaging or in our ingredients by the way…

The debate continues but here are the bullet points:

1. Do not place plastics into any hot environment
2. Remove food from plastic wrap/trays/containers before thawing or reheating in a microwave
3. Check recycling codes for clues, Code 3 indicates types of phthalates, known as DEHA, code 7 has BPA
4. Canned Foods contain in their lining BPA’s too
5. Avoid use of polycarbonates or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) both contain BPA’s, choose containers with codes 1, 2, 4 or 5
6. If you use Nalgene Bottles, sippy cups (used for coffee /soup vending) or water bottles, do not heat, warm or add or contain heated liquid in them…in storage above 28 degrees C results in contamination…
7. Even nail polish, girls contains phthalates!

∆ If the triangle has a 1 in it with PETE underneath - 2 in it with HDPE – relatively safe.

If you it has 5 or 4 inside the triangle and under 5 PP or under 4 LDPE also relatively safe.

Wrapid just cares, so we inform you, Moving Food ( Uni's to Retailers on these issues..

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

This and that re Marketing, Brave New World....

So we sit around and wonder what to do to drive our business forward...advertise say the Marketing Books, but how with only a small or zero budget...well look at blogs, chatlines, Twitter, Facebook and make some "noise" that is vitually free...
If you are farm shop or a local pub get yourself a part-timer who works those late night hours pay him minimum wage or offer free food or wine or an insentive....consider an advertisement in the local paper, that will set you back over £100, thats 20 hours at £5 per hour of blogging, web based chatter and getting your location mentioned....
If you use or google solicitors in your area, up pops contact details, some of these will have web addresses, often with the owners contact details on them or info@, or sales@... drop them a line with your offer or product or retail outlet...never add attachments as these are mostly zapped/deleted...
Go to the local University or College , seek staff details often the teachers/lecturuers e-mail addresses are posted, these can be found and used, public domaine, send them your offer...
Always mention the web site, as this builds futher awareness...these new Marketing and Sales Employees build up a great database and give you access to potential new must remove names if requested and of course the redemption levels are low, but paper vouchers redemption is known to be less than 1% (1 in every 100 printed) but blogging, creating "noise" can ahieve 3-4 %....

You think this is a young persons game, well 38% of blog/social chat lines and web based reviews on product, locations or destinations are from the 35+ age profiles, fasted growing broadband users are the 50+ .....wheres your target market these days!!

Tap into Associations, everything from A-Z will show, most of these hobbists, clubs or associations post the members details, get busy say hello and invite them in with an offer, discount or something free...all creates noise and builds awareness....

Our Virtual Employyees create hundreds of links, chatter, noise and awareness for our brand Wrapid, we have a budget of £100 a week, we get 20 hours of can too....

Want more see, ask info for info....

Common Sense 2009!!

Common Sense Died April 1st, 2009

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair and maybe it was my fault.Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge) and the simple rule of life, if I don’t watch where I am going I am likely to get lost or hurt.His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
They have renamed him in some quarters as Health & Safety!!
Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a member of the public who burnt her mouth on a fast food chains hot coffee, another spilled it in their lap, both sued, “Oops are we missing something here”, Common Sense lamented. Or a restaurant /chef owner who fires an unruly kitchen trainee for smoking in the kitchen is then reprimanded by the employment tribunal; this pressing news in the recent Catering trade magazine only worsened his condition. He cancelled all his subscription, too many advertisements on monitoring your restaurant and retail outlets against the demons of Brussels and fear mongering articles every week on the next piece of red tape legislation bullying its way from Westminster, via of course the puppet string masters of Brussels.
These things only worsened his condition.
Certainly his eye sight began to deteriorate some years ago with the onslaught of small print on every thing from Health Club contracts to menu’s to now even till receipts, let alone the constant messages posted under the Health and Safety of our citizens act. Only a few months before he passed on poor Common Sense was out and about and parked in a hotel in Doncaster to see the barbed wire fence marking off a field by his car, of course he instantly recognised the fence it was born in 1829, younger than himself, but old enough to be recognised and indeed know better, it was demeaned by a series of signs hung from it’s wire strands that read ‘Beware - barbed wire fence’ Common Sense’s health lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. He couldn’t even enjoy his early evening meal at his local brassiere as these unruly kids ‘failed’ by school disciplines ran amok around the tables, chilling his heart as well as his soup , the parents at these tables were knocking back pinot grigio by the gallon (sorry litres) to calm their disappointment at a crumbling school system he assumed!
His health declined even further when he learned that EHO directives via Brussels on the sale of hot food meant department stores like Debenhams are required to check their displayed food every 20 minutes and religiously log it, forget the shoppers needing service he thought. Of course his blood boiled on the thought of our French cousins flaunting this directive at every opportunity. Why only last week whilst visiting Paris he dropped into the European Sandwich show at the Congres de Honor only to see hot food samples ‘galically ‘(yes, not gallantly) cooling down on a beautiful marble table, no thermometers glass covers or temperature probs here he noted.
Poor Common Senses illness was not aided last year when a well known restaurant group in London was warned again by authority figures to chill down and enclose in glass their cheese board, no runny cheese served from now on with his port, indeed his port could not be decanted as lead existed in his favourite cut glass decanter, ..."no wonder his grandfather died at 92, all that lead from cut glass wine glasses and years of decanting fine old ports!"
Poor CC went off to the South of France to convalesce on this experience alone and became more melancholy for right there in the markets and restaurant windows was lovely runny cheese enjoying the winter sunshine….criminals received better treatment than their victims he cried out.Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault. Common Sense was equally confused when signs for mind the step into a large hotel in York were ignored by a guest and subsequently sued for his fall. Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after another woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot in January 2009. She too spilled a little in her lap and was promptly awarded another huge settlement; No trend here then?
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his sons, Reason and the H&S Executive run his estate..He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame and I'm A Victim.Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone.
If you still remember him, drop me a line on and I will pass on your condolences.
If not join the majority and do absolutely nothing.......

Yellow Lines

Not so Mellow Yellow…..

We are reading a great deal these days about the high street, lack of sales, night time binge drinking, security/safety issues, congestion charges; lack of parking and the list goes on.

Having attended recent local authority meetings, senior level discussions with Transport for London and meetings with various Property Search Companies a disappointing message comes through….there is no long term strategy and no joined up thinking in regards to the health of our high streets. Even more disappointing is the fact that no one has considered looking at the effect of all the policies against the consumers need to park and thus to shop. All we read about is the down turn is due to the internet or the down turn in consumer spending and the economy. The community as a whole and their needs are not really understood.

Let us consider any high street in any district of our major cities or small towns in the UK, what we find is a high street that has double yellow lines on it’s main thorough fare and it’s side streets, we have a growth of no parking zones (permit holders only) due to local residence demands to park their second car on or in front of their home, we have a huge growth in parking meters being installed (sadly at £1 for 20 minutes) On top of this the quick free parking that used to exist at the local station is now controlled and prices have risen since 2003 by 500%, certainly this is the case from York to St Albans to Brighton and across the UK.

The local hotels have also put up barriers or controls the local residence parking…get the picture? So what we have is a ‘situation’ here. That situation has been created by local and government policies that do not act strategically, by alienating the car, the consumer has been driven (excuse the pun) away from the high street. This in turn creates a lack of high street traffic and therefore a lack of sales, causing the likes of the regional Boots, WH Smiths and necessary commodity brands (butcher, chemist, banks, dry cleaners) to close down in our local high streets. This then is reflected in a drop in rateable values, collections of VAT, and sales taxed related income for town councils. This drives the councils to create new income streams, so they inflict car parking policies to drive income from parking permits, traffic related parking tickets via the double yellow line and the infamous parking meter charge. Considered an easy target and a easy income stream. This in turn shuts off consumers from the high street as it is no longer as convenient to shop, the type of shops become non core or secondary brands (down market) and a downward spiral begins....upward only rents and increased rates just add to this scenerio..

So let us take a typical Mum, she arguably needs to park close to the shops to jump out of the car collect the dry cleaning or pick up the prescription from the local chemist, often directly outside as little Jonny ,the son, is in the car seat fast asleep. This she can no longer do.
Or lets look at the 45+ year old couple who decide to go out to dinner or lunch (by the way 40-60 year old market is the fastest consumer spening profile and growing), they still have the same issues, the cost or convenience to park is restrictive, meters often charge for 18 hours a day, besides the local Indian or Italian is now a take away to accommodate the Yates late night trade, so actually theirs no where decent on the high street left to eat anyway. The youth will train it in or car pool so the intimidation factor is high from 7pm-1am; just go to York on a Thursday night and find a pub, bar or restaurant that does not have a doorman (polite 2009 speak for bouncer) at their entrances, what does that tell you?

So we have this ‘situation’ the car is black listed, the taxable income for towns and cities is shrinking, the smaller towns get empty shops, the high street deteriorates and the consumers go to out of town for shopping, eat at home or shop via the internet. Interestingly the local village or small out of or off town gastro pubs are doing a roaring and rural trade…not due I would argue to the economy but due to ease of parking....convenience and the need for a safer, cleaner, points of differences....

Can you find a successful local cinema operating on a high street? Can you find a high street where the local paper is not discussing Boots/WHSmith or the local chemist closing?. Is this totally due to consumer demand or changing shopping habits…absolutely to a certain extent but the car and our love affair with the freedom it delivers or should deliver needs to be put into local town planning policies? Perhaps sacrificing rent or rates on a high street location in consideration of free 30 minute parking is worth considering. Perhaps having a planning policy that says we need a mix of local, branded retail outlets and tax breaks for cinemas and theatres. Perhaps even the local Italian is important to the community? A high street gym or health club is finding it hard to make ends meet due to restrictive parking policies. These businesses create footfall and support a healthy high street infrastructure.
I will leave you with this one thought. ‘Is not the heart of a high street and it’s mix of businesses something to consider in planning a policy and thus the consideration of parking to create a healthy high street worth an overall policy change- a change a thinking is now a necessity?

So as we grow older, we mellow but we face the dreaded yellow lines of authority…. If you have a view, contact me on