SMOKE signals

As summer weather approaches the idea of barbecues become more appealing. And consumers are starting to become more exotic in what they want to eat.

According to Mintel, the market for barbecue foods has shown strong growth over the last five years although annual variations in the weather have had a big impact on its overall size. Consumer interest in outdoor living and alfresco dining is stimulating the consumption of a wider range of foods at the barbecue and the extension of barbecues out of the traditional summer/weekends occasion. A trend to premiumisation and more exotic food tastes has also contributed to market growth.

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Sarah Miskell, category director at Warburtons, says: “Sales of rolls rise in the summer as the hotter weather encourages more barbecues and picnics – the convenience of rolls makes them perfect for these occasions.”

Warburtons recently re-vamped its rolls range and launched a new range of premium lunch rolls for lunchboxes and barbecues. The range is available in White, Wholemeal and Grains Seeds.

Miskell adds: “Rolls are just as important as burgers when it comes to the traditional British barbecue menu. Our rolls remain the best selling branded range, responsible for 51% of all branded wrapped rolls sales and our 12 Sliced Sandwich Rolls in particular are ideal for outdoor eating as they come pre-sliced.”

Kate Raison, marketing director of Bakehouse, says: “While freshly made burgers are an increasingly popular choice with consumers, we have found that the quality of the bread available in the bakery aisle can sometimes be disappointing. Bakehouse’s new Gourmet Burger Bun enhances the eating experience of the burger and allows the consumer to transform a humble burger and chips into a delicious meal.”

The bun is designed to hold a 4-8oz burger and is made with extra virgin olive oil and a sourdough starter and stonebaked.

Paul Drawbridge, senior brand manager of Hovis Rolls, says: “The Hovis rolls range will appeal to a wide spectrum of consumers – put simply there is something for everyone. Hovis rolls will benefit from the credibility of the Hovis brand and more specifically Hovis’s strong health credentials, which have strong appeal with consumers.”

According to Hovis, with the barbecue season right around the corner, sales are set to soar even further.

== Sauces ==

According to Heinz the total barbecue sauce market is worth pound;16.1m, a growth of 45% year on year. BBQ sauces have wide consumer appeal and are consumed primarily by families with children. Stronger flavours are preferred by adults aged 28-44. HP and Heinz are two of the leading brand in the BBQ sauce category, accounting for almost 60% of the sector’s value.

Heinz says the households with barbecues are heavier buyers of Heinz Tomato Ketchup that other households. Market figures show that the growth currently enjoyed by the sauces market is being driven by Heinz Tomato Ketchup. The tomato ketchup market is valued at pound;142m growing at 9.2% year on year. Heinz Tomato Ketchup is the market leader with a 78.2% share of sales.

According to Heinz, the brown sauce category is currently worth pound;49.1m, up 7.5% year on year. This month HP is adding to its HP range with three spicy flavours in HP Slightly Hot Smokey Chilli Sauce – Mild, HP Rather Hot Jalapeno Lime Sauce – Medium, HP Seriously Hot Red Chilli Honey Sauce – Hot.

Sarah Brown, brand manager of HP, says: “HP leads the adult sauces market and HP Hot Sauces perfectly fit consumer demand for more exciting and hotter flavours at home. Many of the spicy sauces that are already available focus on heat ahead of flavour and the lack of a recognisable brand makes some consumers wary that the products may be too spicy.”

Continuing with the spicy theme, Heinz is launching a spicy tomato ketchup range in Mild Chilli, Piri Piri Lime and Fiery Chilli.

Ross Longton, brand manager of Heinz Tomato Ketchup, says: “Indian and Mexican meals are continuing to grow in popularity and chilli and spicy based sauce occasions have doubled over the past three years. While adults are continuing to enjoy tomato ketchup with their children, they are looking for something a bit more spicy for themselves.”

According to Premier Foods, 10% of total relish consumption is with barbecues but only 2% of barbecue occasions feature a relish, providing plenty of opportunity for growth. While nearly a third of barbecues feature a table sauce, relish has a small share of the barbecue occasion. Relish is most popular with adults aged 45+, who account for more than 62% of consumption, and this group is less likely to consume barbecued food.

Premier Foods has recently launched Branston Mayo with a Twist in four flavours with a squeezy format.

Kelly Pym, marketing manager for Branston, says: “We are confident that this new activity in the mayonnaise sector will deliver the excitement the category needs and add incremental growth by providing what consumers want – an innovative new angle on a much-loved product.”

Premier Foods has also launched a Red Pepper Tomato spring flavour to the pickle fixture, following its winter Red Onion Cranberry variant.

John Payne, sales director for the wholesaler and supplier Wanis, says: “Consumer feedback told us there was a gap in the UK market for a truly home-style taste. Our new Jamaica Sun Traditional Jerk Seasoning recreates that taste that is so reminiscent of Jamaica, reggae and carnival, only found in the back yard.

“With distinctly different taste profiles, we expect the new Traditional Jerk Seasoning to appeal to the core jerk lover and the Original Jerk Seasoning to cater for the everyday jerk consumer.”

Adejare Adesanya, marketing manager of Wanis, says: “Over 90% of our sales volume is attributable to the wholesale channel and the wholesale route to market is much more effective and less fickle than other routes and provides an opportunity to trial new products more readily.

“We do recognise that our customers need support especially now with the current economic climate, and we are constantly pushing out value promotion to drive sales in these channels.

“In the next quarter we plan to roll out more multibuy promotions to give incentives to retailers who are happy to invest more in our products. Part of our trade support scheme is an awareness campaign to support our brand visibility in the wholesale channel and hopefully drive sales.”

George Phillips, commercial director of Enco Products, says: “Hot, chilli sauces are not only a talking point at BBQs, they’re also an inexpensive way for consumers to make them a more memorable occasion. What’s more, the versatility of chilli sauces means they can be used to flavour food before it’s cooked, as a pour over on the BBQ, or simply as a dressing or a dip.

“People will be spending more time at home this summer, but they will still want to entertain their families and friends and this bodes well for the BBQ market. We will be encouraging people to use Encona Sauces to bring the BBQ to life.”

According to Enco Products, its two best sellers in the Encona Sauces range are West Indian Original Hot Pepper Sauce and Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. Enco Products is predicting a bumper summer for the range and it intends to market its activity at the barbecue occasion which has a traditional peak in demand during the summer months.

Rachel Neale, marketing manager of AAK Foodservice, says: “The premium Lion International Kitchen range of ready to serve sauces, as well as being incredibly tasty, is also great value for caterers who can choose between traditional barbecue sauces such as American Smokey BBQ, Sticky BBQ and Hickory BBQ or something a little more exotic.

“We work with wholesalers in a number of ways: we have a national accounts team that takes care of the larger catering groups and a regional sales team who work closely with regional distributors and catering groups. As well as branded trade marketing campaigns, we develop targeted promotions and marketing campaigns via our distributors.”

== Meat ==

Isabelle Davis, marketing manager at 3663, says: “Leading up to the warmer months, wholesalers need to ensure they have the right products available for barbecues so they are prepared for the first days of sunshine. At 3663 we are seeing sales of sausages, poultry and burgers remain the largest segments of this market, with prepared kebabs, fish and marinades and sauces showing substantial growth over the last four years.”

3663 advises stocking up on frozen foods for impromptu barbecues, catering for vegetarians and offering a range of sauces and marinades.

Andy Honeywood, commercial director of Plusfood, says: “Without doubt there has been a decline in sales within the foodservice wholesale sector but we are fortunate to have a wide product range and business spread across many sectors and groups. Furthermore, while there has been a reduction in eating out our products are added value and aimed at the family dining market which has not come under the same pressures as high-end catering.”

The Plusfood range includes beef burgers, BBQ and Chinese flavour pork range rib, chicken sticklers and minted lamb koftas.

“Foodservice wholesale is a key part of our business – it represents 40% of our turnover in the UK and provides access to the independent consumer and access to the end user groups. We don’t expect the wholesaler to be a font of knowledge when it comes to our products, that’s why we invest in dedicated personnel to work with the wholesaler and develop the end user. Our aim is to promote each one of our product throughout 2009 to continue its awareness.”

According to Kepak, Big Al’s frozen food can enable outlets to serve quality food without worrying about the implications that come with cooking fresh meat.

The range includes beef burgers, chicken grills and BBQ pork ribsteaks.

Robert Alex, commercial manager of Big Al’s, says: “Unlike many frozen meat products, Big Al’s offers a flame cooked taste and appearance as if cooked from fresh.

“Many outlets do not have the budget to employ a professional chef or buy catering equipment. This frozen range requires a freezer for storage and a microwave to cook the burgers.”

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