Thinking ahead

26/07/2013 - 15:09
Creating the right concept for individual businesses may be time-consuming but keeping new ideas coming reinvigorates the marketplace. Sheila Eggleston reports

New ideas come from understanding the needs of consumers and operators, and making products that fit their agenda whether it is, for example, about value for money, health or convenience. It needs careful analysis and trialling before launch, bearing in mind that the chances of success is regularly reported to be only two out of 10 launches.

Grab and go to eat on the move is one of the most buoyant sectors of the market and the concepts built specifically for it are growing.

Analyst Mintel’s predictions for 2013 included a growing consumer concern about food quality, processing and safety – and this was before the horsemeat scandal hit the headlines, therefore choosing the right ingredients is important in building trust.

Indeed new research from Mintel, which compared consumer attitudes before and after the scandal, reveals that buying British produce has risen in importance.

Recent developments cashing in on provenance and innovative flavours include Tyrrells’ extension of its bagged snacks range with Aristo-Crackling hand cooked pork crackling made using only pork from British reared pigs such as Hampshire, Duroc and Large White.

The crackling is double cooked to give a lighter, crunchier texture and comes in traditional and English mustard flavours.

Heck sausages is a new venture for the Keeble family, probably better known for their first brand of sausages Debbie & Andrew’s, which has since been sold to Dutch meat producers Vion.

Among its range is a new product branded Fair & Square that came from customers requesting a sausage that wouldn’t fall through barbecue grills, or roll off bread when making sandwiches, and known as the “squasage”, and was specifically launched in the run up to National Barbecue Week last May.

While they have been designed for barbecues, they’re also being marketed for breakfast. The skinless sausage contains high welfare British pork, gluten-free breadcrumbs, herbs and seasoning, and is inspired by the Lorne sausage, also known as the sliced sausage and a favourite part of a traditional cooked breakfast in Scotland.

Another trend Mintel says will continue to grow is high quality food available in more places and whenever customers want it 24/7, and there is no end to the developments taking this on board.

Familiar and on-trend flavour profiles feature in CP Foods UK’s newly launched Taste Inc range of hot snacking products, and believes it has a lot of potential in the lucrative snacking market now worth £5bn.

The microwaveable chilled on-the-go range will initially launch in garage forecourts and convenience stores across the UK through a deal with chilled and fresh distributor Kerryfresh, with plans to roll it out further in the near future.

Products in the 15-strong range of sandwiches, subs and burgers include a chicken and mayo sandwich, chicken and chorizo baguette and a quarter-pounder burger.

The new brand is part of a multi-million pound investment programme of growth by CP Foods UK, including an extension to its Newmarket factory, which will produce Taste Inc.

“We’re experts in producing added value food products using quality poultry and seafood for the major supermarkets and foodservice industry, and we’re now ready to launch a brand of our own that we feel can bring something new to a snacking market which has grown more than 14% in the past five years,” says Chris Wenham, commercial and marketing head at Taste Inc.

“We are using the best ingredients such as 100% whole chicken breast fillet and also providing our consumers with the latest on-trend flavour profiles to really tempt their taste buds and bring something new to the category. The range includes piri piri chicken, Tex Mex chicken and delicious smokey BBQ.

“Our research shows that ingredients and nutritional information are increasingly important to consumers. The full Taste Inc range comes in at under 500 calories and calorie information is clearly labelled on front of pack.”

Brakes’ latest project has been to capitalise on the need for grab and go concepts particularly for outlets in schools. It has been working closely with suppliers to develop a range of bespoke branded food solutions, which are exclusive to Brakes.

These include McCain 2Go, which are branded grab and go potato based dishes; Bernard Matthews We’ve Got Street Food, which are dishes with a noodle, rice, tortilla, naan or pasta base, with pre-cooked British turkey breast chunks, sauce and vegetables; and Freezing Cow frozen yogurt, which enables operators to tap into the growing trend for innovative and healthier versions of favourite products.

Country Choice says its “Hudson’s” premium hot dogs also provide outlets with the chance to expand their offer in the food-to-go sector as it requires minimal counter space and offers a profit margin in excess of 40%.

The 8½” hot dogs are steam cooked for a better flavour and contain 87% pork. The company says that supplied with a high quality pre-sliced, fully baked demi-baguette, the “Hudson’s” concept is simple.

It comes complete with a branded ‘heat and hold’ steamer, which maintains product quality all day and maximises product visibility despite having a very small footprint. It also comes with free training and technical support.

Keeping existing ranges fresh is an ongoing task and can take time to get the right products. For example, Fudge Kitchen’s artisan handmade gourmet fudge has diversified from confectionery to puddings and drinking fudge.

Variants of its drinking fudge now include: winter spice, Irish cream, classic chocolate, moreish mint, dreamy coconut, gorgeous ginger, mocha choca latte and tangy orange. From June it will be available in more flavours in 1.2kg wholesale packs, making 30 x 40g for 8oz servings or 18 x 65g for 12 oz servings.

Recently the company invested £250K in its first standalone production facility in Aylesham in Kent, with the remaining investment provided by Kent County Council’s Regional Growth Fund.

“The new production facility will allow us to more than double previous production volumes; and the consolidation of everything to one site will give additional efficiency benefits,” explains managing director Sian Holt.

How products are presented is all part of the package – pardon the pun, and ferrying products around safely and conveniently is important. Packaging specialist Planglow has addressed this problem with the introduction of a natural pot, which is compostable and lined with a special food-safe bio coating which meets the European compostability standard EN13432. Two lids comprise a 12oz pot lid made from a recyclable (PS) plastic and a 12oz bio pot lid made from a corn-based material.

The company says the product has excellent thermo-insulating properties suitable for hot and cold applications and unlike other compostable container lid products, the bio pot variant can be used with piping hot food without warping, cracking or melting.

“We’ve seen a significant shift from ambient temperature or chilled food towards snacks and meals at the more extreme ends of the temperature spectrum and wanted to offer our customers a product that can cope with both,” explains marketing director Rachel Sawtell.

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