Sizzling sales

This year National Barbecue Week is May 26 to June 1 and hopefully will encourage more consumers to try barbecuing

It can be difficult to plan a barbecue days in advance, weather being something of an unpredictable beast in the UK, but most ingredients will work just as well under the grill as on the barbecue.

Sanjay Wadhwani, managing director of Wanis, says: “The barbecue market continues to be a strong seasonal sales performer and, within this, we have seen the Afro-Caribbean sector achieve great growth, over the past two years in particular. Caribbean barbecue products and ingredients, which were once hard to find, have become widely available as a result of expansion of the sector and consumers continued interest and experimentation with their barbecue ingredient choices.

“Caribbean flavours and ingredients naturally lend themselves to barbecue cooking and we predict it will be the big barbecue trend for 2008. The region already has a strong association with this kind of cooking and Caribbean marinades and sauces are the perfect ingredients for barbecuing. Typically our Tropical Sun and Jamaica Sun range of sauces, marinades and spices experience a steep rise in sales over spring and summer due to the popularity of the products as barbecue ingredients. Last year we saw double digit sales increases during the spring and summer season, with the Tropical Sun sauces range in particular seeing increases of 80%”

Wanis has added two sauces to its range, Rasta Sauce and Piri-piri Sauce, due to increased consumer demand.

Rolls are a key part of a barbecue and according to Warbutons its rolls are the best selling branded rolls range with a 25.8% share of the market. Sarah Miskell, category director of Warburtons, says: “The wrapped rolls market in the UK is currently worth in excess of pound;256m per year, with around 341 million packs being sold annually. Summer 2007 strongly demonstrated the seasonality of rolls sales, as they grew rapidly in April when the weather was warm but then dipped when the temperature fell.

“The weekend summer barbecue is the new Sunday roast and rolls are just as important as burgers when it comes to the all important menu. The pack of 12 Sliced Sandwich Rolls in particular are ideal for outdoor eating as they come pre-sliced. We expect sales to continue to grow.”

And it’s not just meat that can go on a barbecue, vegetarian options are also available. The Linda McCartney range from Hain Celestial has a variety of products which were developed with barbecuing in mind, including Quarter Pounders and Spicy Three Bean Bakes as well as Vegetarian Sausages.

James Gentle, marketing manager at Hain Celestial UK, says: “The meat-free sector has great potential as it has seen an increase in sales of 5.5% to pound;250m. Barbecue, meat-free barbecue and al fresco options are increasingly popular for both meat and meat-free eaters.”

Gentle adds that the vegetarian sausage rolls have been performing well in the wholesale channel and are proving to be popular all year round, not just during the holiday season.

“Convenience and independent sectors are a key priority for our business. The vegetarian sector is under represented in this channel and we feel that the Linda McCartney products are in the ideal position to drive expansion. We, as a company, need to use wholesalers more in terms of highlighting our products and providing them with images and information for in-store displays and promotional activity.”

Rafi Arkin, brand manager for Quorn and Cauldron, says: “The appealing texture and flavour of Cauldron’s best-selling Lincolnshire Veggie Sausages means that they often beat better quality meat sausages in taste test panels. Cauldron sausages and burgers are also able to withstand the BBQ process.”

According to Quorn the barbecue season isn’t just about meat these days, sales of vegetarian options are showing acceleration at a healthy rate during the summer months with growth being stimulated by a number of factors.

“The habits of mainstream consumers are changing towards healthier foods and eating less meat at a time when barbecuing is increasing in popularity. The taste, variety and convenience of good vegetarian alternatives have driven momentum for these products as desirable options instead of meat and fish.”

According to Heinz, the BBQ sector has grown over the last three years and is now worth over pound;11m, a growth of 27% year on year. Heinz says the season is now well established, running from the beginning of April through to September and sauces are a key part of this. Its range includes HP and Heinz BBQ sauces, HP Sauce, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Heinz Tomato Ketchup with a Twist, Heinz Salad Cream, Heinz English Mustard and Lea Perrins.

Paul Harvey, marketing manager of HP, says: “BBQ sauces are specifically designed to enhance the whole BBQ experience, and Heinz has used its extensive understanding of the sauces market to create the perfect accompaniment to BBQ occasions.”

Another popular summer sauce is Heinz Salad Cream with 60% of sales occurring between April and September. Mike Docherty, marketing manager of Heinz Salad Cream, says: “Consumers are extending their usage of Salad Cream, using it with anything from sandwiches and BBQ foods as a dip, to sausages and chicken and as the ever popular salad accompaniment. It is usually dual sited in store during the BBQ season as it sits on retailers’ BBQ fixtures as well as in the sauces aisles.”

Premier Foods says the total pickles, chutney and relishes category is worth pound;153.8m and growing at +2.4%. It says Branston Relishes are driving growth of the Relish sector with impressive 50.8% year on year growth.

Alex Pickering, brand controller for Branston, says: “Branston Relishes are currently worth pound;4.9m. Consumers love them for their versatility because they’re perfect, not only for barbecues but also stir fries and as dipping sauces.

“Branston Sweet Chilli with Ginger was launched in 2007 to further bolster the relishes range. This flavour is in line with current market trends, where consumers are demanding products that are hotter and more ‘exotic’.”

According to Branston, the sweet pickle sector is worth pound;25.8m and Branston has an 80.6% market share worth pound;20.8m.

Pickering adds: “On average, sweet pickle is consumed once a week and 76% of eating occasions are as part of a sandwich. This is reflected in Branston’s sales with more than 22 million jars sold each year.”

Simon Henrick, group PR manager at Brakes, says: “Outdoor dining poses the perfect opportunity for operators to make smokers feel more welcome, and to offer customers a tasty alternative to the everyday menu. To ensure your barbecue goes off with a bang, make sure you have all tastes covered, with a mixture of beef, pork, chicken and fish, as well as a vegetarian option. Since the smoking ban came in last July, the barbecue has experienced something of a comeback. For instance, more smokers are eating outside and with more families visiting pubs now, it is a good opportunity to lay on a ticketed event with live entertainment and food included in the price.”

Brakes has a range of food products which can be used for a barbecue, including the Premier Quarter Pound Aberdeen Angus Beefburger, Mediterranean Vegetable Mozzerella Quarter Pounder, Filled Jacket Potato Halves with Butter and Prepared Leaf Summer Salad Mix.

Henrick adds: “What you decide to serve as an accompaniment is just as important as what you decide to cook on the barbecue. Quality accompaniments can turn a barbecue snack into a meal, for which operators can charge a higher price.”

Heinz Foodservice says, research shows barbecue food should rise to pound;352m by 2009 and following this rise in popularity, outlets are pressured to find not just better quality, but more sophisticated and diverse dishes.

Emily Frank, brand manager of Heinz Back of House, says: “Figuring out what to stock in a wholesale or cash and carry environment is a simple matter of working backwards from what diners want. Which is exactly where Heinz starts when it is looking to develop any of its products.

“In fact we conducted a survey to identify the most popular characteristics of a BBQ sauce – helping us create the perfect back of house and front of house option, taking the hard work away from the caterer, and netting them a healthy profit in the process.”

Heinz Foodservice says its BBQ sauce offers four applications of dipping, marinating, basting and grilling.

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