The foodservice side of wholesaling covers the full spectrum of cuisines available in the UK, with the market being fed by a strong network of experienced wholesalers and suppliers.

According to FWD, the wholesale industry body, around 35 percent of food and drink wholesale distributors’ revenue comes from sales to catering and foodservice providers, who supply food and drink to a wide range of organisations including schools, hospitals, social clubs, guest houses, coffee shops and petrol forecourts; this supports 569,000 jobs in the wider economy.

It’s not clear what percentage of UK wholesalers are FWD members, but the Federation says its members supply fresh, chilled, frozen and ambient food and drinks, and associated products, to 362,000 catering or foodservice businesses. These customers include cafes, restaurants, hotels, care homes and pubs, as well as catering outlets in private companies and public institutions such as hospitals, schools, universities and prisons.

In this feature we look at how delivered wholesalers and cash & carries, together with their suppliers, are capturing the catering opportunity across the categories.

When it comes to breakfast, French family bakers Brioche Pasquier have renamed one of their biscotte products, and at the same time introduced a new flavour. Both the new flavour and the name change reflect the company’s French heritage.

Perfect for the Christmas party season, Ficelles de Pain are ideal for dipping or serving alongside a selection of creamy cheeses.

Ficelles de Pain used to be known as Petites Baguettes, explains Marketing Executive Victoria Lane: “We are a proudly French company and specialise in French bakery products, so we decided to revert to the original name for this product.”

As well as the existing Plain flavour made from French bread, a new Brioche flavour is now available. This has a slightly sweeter taste, like the brioche it’s based on. French style biscotte is made from proper French bread or brioche which is baked twice, so it is deliciously crunchy and makes a great alternative to crackers or rolls for lunch or with savoury or sweet toppings at any time of day.

The French love their biscotte for breakfast smothered in butter and jam or chocolate spread. However, this versatile product has many more uses. Brioche Pasquier have developed their range to include a variety of shapes and sizes designed to be the perfect base in many different culinary situations. Ficelles de Pain are a long and thin shape with a flat top which makes them perfect for dipping. They are a good size to hold in the hand and have a delicious crunch. The Plain flavour is particularly good for the party season served with a selection of dips such as smoked mackerel pate, beetroot hummus or a baked Camembert. At only 48 calories each they make a good low-calorie alternative to a roll. Serve alongside salads and soups or top with cream cheese and smoked salmon to make an elegant starter or canapé.

The new sweet Brioche flavour is great with soft cheeses and fruit – ricotta and balsamic cherries, or topped with chocolate spread and strawberries for a indulgent treat.

The biscotte range gives chefs the opportunity to offer their customers a more unusual and interesting addition to meals and festive occasions. A change to traditional crackers or rolls, biscotte bring a continental touch to any meal.

As the nation’s favourite spread-brand, Ferrero continue to expand the Nutella foodservice range to provide the popular spread in a variety of formats to suit all operators. Alongside the best-selling 15g single serve portion pack –ideal for breakfast buffets – the new Nutella 1kg Piping Bag makes it as easy as snip, pipe and serve to instantly update a host of breakfast goods, from pastries and pancakes to waffles and muffins.

The arrival of the Nutella 1.35kg tub alongside the existing 3kg version also provides the opportunity for smaller operators to start utilising Nutella, whilst the 25g mini jars are perfect for hotels and coffee shops looking to impress with a high-end offering.

Zareen Deboo, Foodservice Channel Operations Manager, Ferrero UK & Ireland, says A versatile addition to any kitchen, nutella can be teamed with nearly 60% of breakfast options, providing a delicious twist to dishes such as toast, bagels, pastries, porridge, waffles and American pancakes.

Ferrero Foodservice has also launched Thorntons Luxury Hot Chocolate Powder, raising the standard for powdered hot chocolate out-of-home. With the latest independent research showing a real disparity between key markets and the hot chocolate experience on offer, the launch brings a golden opportunity for operators to boost their offering with the backing of 100 years of Thorntons quality and craftsmanship.

Ferrero’s survey revealed only 8% have enjoyed a very good hot chocolate while traveling, 10% from a vending machine and 21% using in-room services. Restaurants and cafes fared better, with nearly two thirds of consumers highly rating their hot chocolate experience (64% and 62%).

With 210 million hot chocolates served out-of-home, this hot beverage has seen the greatest growth of all hot drinks over the last year.

Caribbean foods are definitely on the up in the catering world, says Tom Styman-Heighton, Development Chef at Funnybones Foodservice: “With Caribbean food chains opening around the country, the cuisine from the sunshine islands is gaining in popularity and as specialist wholesalers in this area we are able to supply truly authentic products to our customers.

Jerk seasoning is now mainstream, and ingredients such as plantain, goat and hot pepper sauces are becoming much more familiar. There is growing demand for West Indian ingredients like Callaloo, which is both vegan and Caribbean in origin, and we supply this popular green vegetable in a tinned version which is ideal for making soup and other dishes. In line with the growth in demand for free from products we have introduced several lines which are gluten free, vegetarian and vegan. There are many vegetarian and vegan Jamaican dishes, so when it comes to Caribbean foods we have lots to offer. Our Rice and Peas Jamaican Patty, for example, is vegan.”

“We also offer sweet dishes such as our gluten free, vegetarian Chocolate Brownies which provide a specialist alternative that is also extremely delicious and therefore suitable.”

The strong vegan trend is influencing the market, says Tom: “We have seen the demand for Jackfruit soar as it has a satisfying, meaty texture that makes a great vegan substitute in savoury dishes in its young green state, while the fully ripe fruit has a sweet flavour that is delicious in puddings and desserts. We sell both types of this nutritious fruit ready to use in cans. Jackfruit in Syrup is suitable for dishes such as cakes and jellies. And for savoury dishes like vegan pulled pork, vegan burgers and nachos, there is Young Green Jackfruit in brine.

As nights get longer and the temperatures drop, customers are more likely to opt for richer, more indulgent puddings.”

They also have networks of suppliers across North and South America, so the food is authentic and has provenance. When it comes to desserts, as wholesalers specialising in foods from the Americas and the Caribbean, says Tom, Funnybones Foodservice are firmly on the side of giving customers a real treat:

“Our desserts are US classics, with the full, rich flavours that the Americans do so well. Tempt your customers with perennial favourites such as Toffee Banana Cream Cheesecake, Sticky Waffle Pudding and Mississippi Mud Pie. Our new Salted Caramel Rocky Road features a fudgy chocolate brownie base, topped with a layer of lightly salted caramel. To finish, there’s chocolate malt balls for crunch, and soft meringues and dark chocolate sauce provide the final flourish.”

The dessert comes frozen and is pre-sliced into 16 portions. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight and serve. Once defrosted It will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Sleaford Quality Foods (SQF), based in Lincolnshire, is a leading cross-category supplier to the foodservice and catering industry. The company’s Chef William brand was created over 25 years ago with an extensive product range including dried and dehydrated products from herbs and spices to onion, seasonings and pepper. Though Chef William continues to perform strongly, SQF identified the opportunity to diversify and reach new customers so recently launched a new foodservice range in the UK with sustainability at its heart.

The Our Earth range is the modern answer to consumer demand for unbeatable flavour, sustainability as standard and unrivalled convenience. Ingredients are transparently sourced, and packaging is 100% recyclable.

Tracey Siddy, Head of Innovation & Marketing at Sleaford Quality Foods, says: “The Our Earth range is the latest move from Sleaford Quality Foods to continually improve sustainability in the food industry with products that can be traced back to source, while providing meal solutions for a range of dietary preferences.

The initial range includes Gravy Mixes, Bouillons, Stuffing’s, Yorkshire Pudding Mixes and Jelly Crystals delivering unbeatable flavour as part of a balanced diet. SQF conducted extensive customer research prior to launch, leading to their decision to focus on Free From claims so the on-trend range includes gluten-free, dairy-free, palm oil-free, vegan, Halal and Kosher diet suitable options.

The new launch is being backed up with a wide range of marketing support. This includes an extensive Public Relations campaign, social media coverage across Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram as well as a new website and email marketing focus. A short, high-impact video has also been produced to assist the drive to reach new audiences.

National wholesaler JJ Foodservice has launched a new range of chicken products as part of its ‘Think Fresh Chicken’ campaign to support restaurants to improve quality and margins with fresh air-chilled chicken. The new range consists of fresh calibrated chicken breast fillets (90-110g, 2x5kg), boneless chicken thighs (skin-on and skin-off, 2x5kg) and boneless chicken legs (skin-on and skin-off, 2x5kg).

“The pre-cut chicken breast, typically used for breaded burgers, helps takeaways to save time, reduce waste and support portion control,” says Terry Larkin, Group General Manager at JJ.

All JJ’s chicken cuts can be enjoyed barbecued, griddled or breaded and fried. To support the launch, JJ’s has invested in a series of YouTube videos with cooking and serving suggestions for each product. Prices start from £30.99 / 2x5kg – that’s just 31p per chicken breast fillet (90-110g) when customers pay online by card. JJ customer Kebabland, a Harrow-based restaurant and takeaway, uses skin-on chicken leg to make its popular chicken doner, delivering an excellent margin.

“A chicken doner costs the caterer just £1 per portion – that’s an 85% margin when sold at £6.50 per kebab.”

McCain Foodservice Solutions is launching its latest brand, SureCrisp, targeting the growing UK delivery and takeaway market, while also improving on-premise experience. With delivery and collection accounting for 24% of out of home visits, the new range of restaurant quality fries enable operators to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment, helping to improve consistency, food quality and customer loyalty.

McCain discovered an opportunity for operators to improve their delivery offering, with 82% of consumers admitting they have experienced soggy, cold or poor-quality fries via delivery. What’s more, 65% of consumers said that a bad chip will negatively affect their overall view of an operator, making them less likely to order again.

Offering fries that stay crispy for up to 20 minutes, during delivery or on-premise, the McCain SureCrisp range consists of eight products for hospitality operators, including Skin-On Julienne Fries, Gourmet Chunky Chips and Traditional Thick. Megan Cornelius, Product Manager, McCain Foodservice Solutions commented: “Delivery is changing the foodservice landscape and it’s becoming ever-more competitive for hospitality operators. With new delivery and takeaway concepts popping up almost daily across the UK, there has been an increasing focus on quality of food served, particularly fries.

Staying with potato products, 2.3 million consumers in the UK are making a conscious effort to cut down on their meat consumption, says Mohammed Essa, Commercial Director, Aviko UK & Ireland, by following a flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan diet. Aviko’s new handmade 1/4 and 1/2 Potato Skins taps into this trend.

“Veganism has gone mainstream and the meat-free market is now worth over £780 million, providing a massive profit opportunity. Our new Potato Skins offer the perfect platform for operators to try out plant-based flavour combinations and increase the appeal of their dishes across all aspects of the menu, from starters and sharing platters to lunches and snacking options.

Aviko’s new Potato Skins are handmade, ensuring excellent and consistent quality every time. Available as quarter skins to create sharing platters and half skins ideal for individual starters and snacking options. Made from British grown baking potatoes with a higher natural sugar content to provide a superior taste, Aviko’s Potato Skins can be fried or oven-cooked, maintaining a crispy outer texture even when loaded.

No longer just reserved for bacon and cheese, operators can use a variety of on-trend meat-free ingredients from avocados to chickpeas to create loaded potato skins that will appeal to those searching for exciting vegan and vegetarian options.

One of Aviko’s other biggest sellers is their Super Long fries. They recently tested their 9.5mm Super Longs with three competing brands, showing how longer fries can have a positive impact on operator profits as operators need less to fill a portion and can gain up to 19 extra portions with Super Longs. If operators sell 200 cases of fries per month, they can save over £7,800 per year due to Super Longs’ superior portion yield.

Offered in two variants – original Super Longs and Skin-On Super Longs – Aviko’s Super Long fries enable operators to have a real point of difference and demand a higher price point. Meeting the trend for authenticity, the Skin on Super Longs have a homemade feel and an unmatched flavour. They are supplied frozen and come in two cut sizes – 9.5mm and 11mm – while the original Super Longs are available in cuts of 7.4mm and 9.5mm.

Demand for sweet potato – including fries – is at an all-time high as Aviko’s research shows that 66% of UK consumers think there should be more sweet potato options on menus. This is due to a variety of reasons including a third of consumers believing sweet potato is healthier, 30% prefer the taste and 23% simply opting for something different when dining out-of-home.

Aviko’s Premium Crunch Fast Food Fries retain that all important crunch, making them ideal for the growing delivery market. With a thicker coating, the new fries are perfect for home delivery packaging and will arrive without breakage or loss of heat and will also remain satisfyingly crunchy. Cooking in just three minutes, Premium Crunch Fries are available in Crunch Shoestring 7mm and Crunch 9.5mm.

Aviko also offer Churros, providing a great way to tap into the on-the-go market, whilst also enhancing dessert menus with an authentic experience. Aviko’s Straight Cut Churros are made in Spain using a traditional recipe that produces a crisp and flavoursome finish, making them perfect for dipping. Churros are perfect with a variety of sauces from white chocolate to salted caramel and ideal for maximising snacking sales during the quieter periods between lunch and dinner. In the last year alone, dessert parlours experienced an 86% rise in the number of visits, highlighting the huge opportunity available. With snacking now accounting for two-fifths of all eating out occasions, Aviko’s Straight Cut Churros enable operators to profit from the popularity of sweet treats.

Avlaki Olive Oils has begun its journey into foodservice by launching its organic extra virgin olive oils for the professional kitchen and aims to educate as many chefs as posisble in this category, than can often be bewildering.

A fine quality extra virgin olive oil transforms all it touches, elevating almost any dish to a food fit for the gods. Introducing the superb range of oils from Avlaki, these all organic, extra virgin olive oils from the Greek island of Lesvos are unfiltered and are made from hand-picked olives gently turning from green to pink for the December harvest.

Avlaki has two single terrain, gourmet, organic, extra virgin finishing oils, from the Avlaki Groves and Agatheri Groves, and an excellent blend organic extra virgin olive oil from Lesvos Groves, for more general use.

Avlaki was created a happy accident 23 years ago, when owners Natalie Wheen and Deborah MacMillan restored a small ruin on the coast of Lesvos as a retreat. They began caring for the neglected olive trees in the ancient mountain fields carpeted with wild flowers, researched olive farming methods and became olive farmers! They introduced strict organic farming methods, keeping the fields as natural as possible to encourage biodiversity, with all kinds of bushes and trees providing cover for wildlife. The result is fruit harvested by hand when the olives are at a perfect balance of ripeness, which results in an astonishing quality, texture and taste.

Natalie explains: “After pressing, the oils are bottled in the UK, unfiltered and unadulterated, within weeks of harvesting, to capture the amazing aroma and taste of the new oil, so it retains the distinct character of each vintage.

“You don’t have to use the eye watering quantities of oil that some parts of the Med splash on – especially if you have a really good tasting extra virgin olive oil to balance the tastes of your recipe ingredients. Hearty pungent oils do well with roasts and barbecues. In any case, only use extra virgin olive oils for the best quality. If it’s not labelled ‘Extra Virgin’ it’s of lesser quality – and if there’s nothing ‘virgin’ about it (if it’s called ‘pure’ or ‘refined’) – leave it on the shelf, as anything healthy left it long ago!”

Packaging for Foodsrvice

Colpac has launched its ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ range of 100% recyclable paperboard platters directly responding to demands from caterers and retailers looking for sustainable alternatives in a market which is dominated by single-use plastic.

During the design process, Colpac carried out extensive research with sandwich manufacturers and contract caterers to identify key functional points which needed to be incorporated into a paperboard platter solution. The feedback put time and space efficiency, hygiene, ease of use and security at the heart of product development. ‘

Taking these fundamental attributes, Colpac’s in-house design team created the flexible and interchangeable ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ range, a cost efficient, competitive, alternative to single-use plastic. Suitable for sandwiches, wraps and both savoury and sweet baked products, the new, ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ range consists of medium and large bases that combine with several sleeve and insert options to create a variety of platter options.

The bases, which are designed with double thickness walls to provide additional strength, are easy to assemble and nestable, providing a space efficient solution caterers can construct in advance and stack ready to use.

The integration of pop-out handles onto each of the bases provides a simple, and hygienic solution to remove the base from the sleeve without risking food contamination. While locking tabs on the sleeves provide security once the product is filled and being transported to ensure that contents stay inside the platter.

As feedback from caterers revealed that product visibility is not always a requirement as people generally open the platter as soon as it is delivered, Colpac created a windowless sleeve. Competitive in price to plastic alternatives, the windowless option provides a cost-effective solution with greater branding opportunities. While the window sleeve option features a cellulose film for visibility, enabling users to recycle the platter as a single unit. Both of the window and windowless sleeve options have a matchbox style opening and are suitable for same day consumption.

The third option in the range is a Tuck-End sleeve, which allows for the platter to be fully sealed, reducing the air flow, enabling caterers to fill the day before consumption. A combination platter, which completes the range, has been ergonomically designed to maximise the display of the packed food and features an rPET lid made from 60% recycled materials.

For caterers packing a range of different goods, such as sandwiches and cakes, into one platter, Colpac have created flexible half and quarter sized inserts to eliminate cross contamination.

“The ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ range of platters is not only a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics, but has been designed to meet the demands of the market,” comments Dave Robins, Product Manager at Colpac. “It is testament to the capabilities of paperboard that we can now offer a fully recyclable option.”

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