Profiting from the world’s great flavours Consumers constantly seeking new and exciting dishes

For consumers feeling jaded after Christmas, the good news is, soon it’ll be time to celebrate Chinese New Year, on Tuesday 5th February. Following on from the Year of the Rooster and the Year of the Dog, this is the Year of the Pig.

But whichever animal’s year is being celebrated, Ennevor Yap, Director of Wing Yip, the UK’s leading Oriental grocer, says Chinese New Year is a great opportunity for retailers and wholesalers to spice up their food and drink sales in the bleak midwinter and highlight Oriental cuisine’s wideranging variety of foods and flavours, all of which are increasingly popular:

“The Wing Yip Oriental Food Report reveals that Chinese is one of the most popular among consumers in the UK. We’re progressively seeing the street food culture grow as consumers are travelling more and expanding their taste palates. People are constantly seeking new and exciting dishes inspired from this street food trend, meaning operators are experimenting with new flavours and ingredients to offer something new to the menu, particularly in the lead up to and during Chinese New Year.”

The Chinese food opportunity is important to grasp whether in the form of one or two additional dishes added to an established offering, or as an entire Chinese themed bespoke menu, says Ennevor Yap:

“We’re currently seeing huge popularity emerging for sharing dishes such as dim sum and dumplings, especially during key culinary occasions such as Chinese New Year, where family and friends gather to celebrate. “We’re also increasingly seeing operators turning a traditional dish on its head and putting a spin on it, incorporating new flavours and widening the category further. It is key to ensure caterers have access to new flavours and ingredients, which can be easily incorporated into a variety of dishes.”

Wing Yip’s range of Oriental ingredients can be used to add authentic flavour to popular dishes. For example, adding a spoonful of Massaman curry paste can give a dish a Thai taste or hot pepper paste can add a Korean kick to a stir-fry, while mushroom sauce makes a great addition to any dish and is a great vegetarian alternative to Oyster sauce.

“Another range we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for is our Mai Siam range. This is mainly due to the fact none of the products contain any fish sauce or shrimp paste, making it an ideal alternative product, especially for vegans. The Thai pastes in particular enable chefs to create versatile dishes which can be made up of any base, from vegetables, tofu, meat or seafood, creating a wealth of meal options such as curries, stews or soups – we understand versatility is key for any kitchen to meet the growing demands of consumers.”

With stores in Birmingham, Cricklewood, Croydon and Manchester, Wing Yip provides more than 4,500 ingredients that operators can rely on when creating an Oriental menu. From the mainstream rice and noodles, to the more specialist ingredients such as Oriental vegetables, fresh fish including shellfish, and authentic pastes and oils, Wing Yip provides easy access to Oriental ingredients for traditional or more experimental Far Eastern dishes. For those looking for a quick serve option, a wide variety of stir-in sauces provide an authentic taste with minimum ingredients, while the Fried Rice Seasoning creates delicious Chinese rice in minutes.

TRY MEXICAN, ‘MIGO!

The World Foods category is growing, with shoppers increasingly looking to spice up their meal times and create an authentic experience in the home. Currently worth £1.4 billion, it takes a 4.7% share of total ambient grocery sales, with Mexican food making up £170 million. Lindsay Hill, Marketing Manager, Meals and Baking at General Mills, makers of the Old El Paso brand, tells the story:

“Mexican is a firm favourite among Brits. The top two fastest growing restaurant chains in the UK are Mexican, however more and more consumers are choosing to spend money on re-creating the restaurant experience at home. This presents a fantastic opportunity for retailers to grow sales by stocking products that allow shoppers to do just that.”

OId El Paso is helping retailers capitalise on this ever-growing demand with their market-leading Mexican meal kits and products. Lindsay Hill continues:

“We have a rich heritage; the brand was founded in El Paso in 1938 and we were the first to create a Mexican meal kit back in 1969. It’s this experience that has seen us grow to become a £100 million brand in the UK.”

Old El Paso is still growing at an impressive +1.7% annually. The brand’s recent Day of the Dead campaign also capitalised on a well-known Mexican occasion turned popular trend, and has seen great success across the U.K. The through-the-line campaign included a ‘Win a Trip to Mexico’ on-pack competition supported by social media, PR and limited-edition packaging.

“As well as developing products in accordance with the latest trends, Old El Paso makes sure to cater to as many people as possible. Our Gluten Free Fajita kit has seen great success, and we’re currently working on extending the range.

“A large number of millennials now describe themselves as foodies, which offers a significant opportunity to the World Food category and brands like Old El Paso. Maximising trends whilst ensuring convenience and speed is key has always been our focus, and this will continue throughout this year.”

Discover Africa, the Caribbean and beyond with Wanis

Authenticity is all important to Wanis, one of the UK’s biggest international food wholesalers. They stock big name brands including Africa’s Finest, Nrich, Carib and Tropical Sun. Marketing Manager Julian Davis says:

“We take great care in developing products that are authentic, in partnership with chefs and producers who have an intricate understanding of the traditions and history of specific dishes and recipes. This is vital, especially as we have been serving core ethnic communities for more than twenty one years and know that they value authenticity and cultural traditions. Whilst there is a lot of scope to innovate in this space, getting it right is critical to maintaining brand loyalty and reaching out to new consumers,” Having started as a small business, bringing niche and specialist ingredients like Ackee, Callaloo and Gari to the UK’s African and Caribbean consumers, the Tropical Sun brand has grown its range and its audience to include products from all over the world including Asia and South America.

Today, Tropical Sun has a wide range of high quality products from all over the world, covering several categories including drinks, snacks, sauces, rice, seasonings and specialist ingredients. It has won 16 Great Taste Awards, has continued to deliver consistent year-onyear growth and the brand’s logo has come to symbolise quality and give shoppers assurance.

Meanwhile the World Foods category is changing rapidly, one of the reasons why Tropical Sun has radically increased investment into new product development and consumer engagement. Marketing Manager Julian Davis says: “Whilst staying incredibly loyal to our core shoppers, who have made us what we are, we have actively courted new consumers. This includes adventurous foodies, those curious about the category, shoppers looking for exotic recipe solutions, as well as those who want simply tropicalise dishes they already love to cook.”

Critical to this engagement has been the brand’s website, which has been revamped and relaunched. It is now easier to navigate, has the brand’s full range, features product usage information alongside great international recipe ideas.

The brand has also leveraged social media to engage with customers, especially responding to queries and making their products and the category less scary for those new to the category. Tropical Sun is increasing on-ground engagement, with sampling planned at events throughout the year including instore, at community events and at the prestigious BBC Good Food Show. The brand has also recently launched a raft of new products. This includes the recent expansion of its best-selling coconut range, which takes in Organic Coconut Flour, Organic Coconut Milk, Coconut Vinegar and Coconut Treacle. Additionally, Tropical Sun has added three South Asian flavoured teas to its herbal range, Neem, Turmeric and Tulsi.

Pete Beck, national account manager for Tropical Sun confidently predicts big things for the brand and the category. He says: “World Foods is one of the few categories delivering significant growth for those retailers that are executing it well and see the potential it can deliver. The category is still in its infancy, relative to core grocery, and there are huge opportunities to reach a mass market outside of core ethnic shoppers with cross-over lines. We encourage retailers to work with us to develop ranges relevant for a mass market, and ranges tailored to local store demographics. This is truly the secret to gaining footfall and maximising opportunities in the category, and also to a degree being open to experiment to find the winners.”

Catering to ethnic shoppers and world cuisine fans has never been bigger business, says Julian Davis, Marketing Manager at Wanis. “Independent retailers have a much better capacity than supermarkets to offer a wide range of products tailored to the needs of local demographics and much quicker – especially when it comes to NPD. This is the reason why core ethnic shoppers still inevitably have to go to their local independent for a top-up shop, to meet their everyday World Food needs.

There are huge opportunities, says Julian, to expose World Foods to a mass market. “This will be achieved and is already happening in some cases, by dual siting and then merging fast moving World Food ethnic SKUs, on mainstream grocery shelves, not hidden away in the World Foods aisle.

The move towards premiumisation within World Foods will continue to grow, says Julian. “Research suggests that consumers who already shop World Foods are interested in new products, want more choice and are willing to pay more for high quality authentic World Foods.

The World Foods category is still under-developed. There are still a large number of people who are daunted by scratch-cooking World Foods at home. If brands can help to demystify this, they can bring a huge number of new shoppers to the category and truly transition World Foods from niche and specialist to fully-integrated and mainstream.

On-pack, online, and on-ground engagement are critical to demystifying the World Foods category for those that are new to it. Whilst some lines have already started reaching critical mass such as our Jollof and Jerk Seasoning, products like Tropical Sun Ackee, need more work. However, we are seeing an up-take of these kinds of products by such as vegans – who are looking for something different to cook which delivers on taste and their dietary and lifestyle needs. These consumers then become brand advocates –amplified via social media, blogs and vlogs.

“African food is definitely on the ascendency and is one to watch. With over 50 countries on the continent, there is certainly a lot to choose from. Nigerian and Ghanaian foods are most evidently making their way onto menus in the out-of-home space, led by the diaspora community across the UK. We are also seeing this across street food, with dishes including Jollof Rice, Ghanaian Chichinga Beef Kebabs, as well as a plethora of traditional soups and stews. Also to watch are South African, Senegalese, Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine.”

“We have really stepped up our efforts to inform consumers about product usage and recipe ideas. This includes more information on-pack, on our website and increased on-ground engagement. We have highlighted the simpler dishes to make, which are quick and convenient, including using our Jerk Paste to make Jerk Chicken, or our curry paste to make a Caribbean Curry. Then there is the more complex – using our Young Green Jackfruit, to make a vegan filling for Mexican taco.”

“We have also seen the increasing popularly amongst consumers to add a tropical twist to many traditional British dishes. This includes adding a tropical spice to an omelette, adding jerk paste to make Jerk Bangers and mash, or a more adventurous side of plate sauce with a traditional Sunday roast.”

POTS OF OPPORTUNITY

When they’re on their holidays or work travels or eating out here in the UK, Brit consumers love the exciting tastes of different cuisines from around the world. And when it comes to every day eating at home or for lunch at work people expect to find those lovely foreign flavours in their favourite convenience foods. Kevin Butterworth, Marketing Director at Symington’s, brand owners of Mug Shot, and Ragu says:

“We’ve consistently found that consumers are seeking products with more authentic flavours which are still convenient and filling. Our Big Eat Noodle Pots are available in four varieties: Singapore, Green Thai, Mee Goreng and Chicken Penang. They are a third bigger than our standard pots. We’ve also launched a range of Noodle Based Meal Soups which replicate the noodle bar experience on-the-go or at home in two varieties, Hot & Sour and Laksa.”

Symington’s Naked Rice range is also focused on delivering a convenient, authentic taste experience. The flavours have been selected to complement the existing Naked Noodle range, including Chicken Katsu Curry and Malaysian Chicken Curry, Vegetable Pho, Asian Chicken, Chilli Prawn and Pad Thai.

They have also introduced microwavable Naked Soup pouches, made with delicious, fresh and authentic ingredients. The pouches provide a convenient, substantial snack and are available in a range of flavours including Fragrant Thai Carrot and Vietnamese Fiery Beef Pho.

Does Italian-American food count as world food? Whether you think it does or not, it’s a huge grocery market. Symington recently unveiled a distinctive contemporary new look and feel for their bestselling Italian American cooking sauce brand, Ragu, which has been completely rejuvenated with a new design, additional pouch pack format and four exciting new flavours to reflect trends in Italian American cooking – Staten Island Tomato Chorizo & Chilli Sauce, Manhattan Creamy Tomato & Vodka Sauce, Queens Meat Feast Ragu and Brooklyn ‘Nduja Red Sauce.

Ragu also boasts enhanced nutritionals. There is no added sugar, two of the new flavour variations are one of your five a day and they are all gluten free and made with natural ingredients. Over the coming months the Ragu pouches’ packaging refresh will be extended to Symington’s Ragu jars.

The Naked brand is worth over £15m, commanding a 43% market share of the authentic pots category. Naked Noodle is available in 10 authentic pan-Asian flavours including Thai Green Curry and Beef Pho. With preparation under five minutes, it’s an excellent choice for convenience-loving consumers who won’t compromise on authenticity.

Symington’s have also reinvigorated the iconic Chicken Tonight brand with the launch of a range of ultraconvenient cooking sauce pouches with delicious, contemporary flavours to inject excitement into the big night in occasion. Drawing on restaurant favourites and the consumer demand for more exotic world flavours, the range includes Aromatic Moroccan Lemon & Herb, Hot & Spicy Jamaican Jerk, Fiery Salt & Pepper Chilli and Fragrant Coconut & Lime Leaf Curry flavours. Available in 250g pouches, the range showcases bold new black and yellow packaging, which is being introduced across the entire Chicken Tonight portfolio, to enhance stand out on shelf and appeal to new and existing customers alike. The range of pouches contains no added sugar, is gluten free and based on natural, authentic kitchen cupboard ingredients to create fresh flavours.

SNACKS FROM THE SUBCONTINENT

Indian street snacks have been with us for many years, but our tastes are getting bolder and bolder, says Debbie King, Director of Commercial Sales & Marketing at Cofresh, the UK’s No 1 Indian snack brand:

“The booming demand for bolder, spicier flavours is being driven by ever more adventurous consumers, who are constantly seeking out new, authentic and exciting snacks and taste combinations.”

With an estimated 10 million lunch occasions now involving Indian food, the consumer appetite for hot and strong flavours shows no sign of diminishing any time soon – “which of course means that for wholesalers, there are some great opportunities out there on the grocery calendar!”

Key selling times of the year have a positive impact on the category as the growth in popularity in world food and the increasingly mainstream effect of cultural celebrations like Diwali go hand in hand – what were unusual or curious flavours are now becoming mainstream choices.

To help retailers – and therefore wholesalers – capitalise on these celebrations, says Debbie King, Cofresh create bespoke seasonal When It’s Gone It’s Gone’ lines specifically for Ramadan – when selected snack lines incorporate dates which are typically associated with this religious period, Diwali – a time of celebration when they offer their best-selling Chakri and Bombay Mix in bumper sharing packs, and Christmas, when cranberries and festive flavours feature prominently.

The world foods snacks market is currently very buoyant, growing faster than any other savoury snack category. Overall it’s valued at £63m and enjoying 22% growth, with Indian snacks representing a 77% share and driving 90% of all world snacks growth.

Continued consumer demand for new, authentic and bolder flavours, the rise of in-home socialising and our investment in the Cofresh brand all combine to help push the category forward, but greater consumer interest in healthier snacking is also having an impact.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in sales of our potato-based Grills range since the launch earlier this year of new flavour variants – Peri Peri, Chilli Cheese and Sweet Chilli – each containing 30% less fat.”

Tilda predicting big things

With the Asian food market now worth over £3 billion in the UK it plays an important role in shaping future trends. As consumers are becoming more adventurous in their tastes, Annette Coggins, Head of Foodservice, Tilda UK expects to see three trends grow in popularity in 2019:

Japanese Dude Food – “Showcasing a different side to Japanese cooking, this was tipped as one of the hottest trends for 2018 and we think it will make a big impact in 2019. Moving away from lighter dishes, this trend showcases Japan’s richer flavours, taking inspiration from Tokyo’s street vendors.”

Korean BBQ – “An emerging contender in the Asian food market, Korean cuisine is meeting the consumer demand for more innovative dishes. The most popular dish is Korean Fried Chicken which is coated in a crispy batter and typically served with rice and Kimchi.”

Plant Based Cooking – “2018 saw veganism become mainstream and in 2019 we will see more innovative plantbased dishes appearing on menus. Asian cuisine lends itself perfectly to plant-based cooking and we expect to see it leading the way in using vegetables and plant proteins in new and exciting ways.