Ethnic foods are doing well across the country, and as more consumers incorporate Mexican, Indian, and Oriental food into their weekly shops, there is a need to cater to them.
Max Stricker, category controller at Premier Foods says: “The wholesale channel is a key route to market for Premier Foods and the primary way of ensuring our products get on the shelves of independent retailers. We work hard with wholesalers to help them to remain competitive, and allow independent retailers to deliver promotions that compete effectively with multiples. We recognise the importance of the wholesale channel and as such support it with a dedicated resource in account sales, category marketing and field teams, including a specific wholesale development team.”
Premier Food is launching a range of four additional Tikka variants to its Sharwood’s range.
Kelly Davis, marketing controller for Sharwood’s, says: “More and more consumers are recreating restaurant experiences at home, and as Indian remains one of the fastest growing cuisines in the UK it is essential to stock up on the core Sharwoods range, as well as the new Tikka variants to maximise the excitement we expect to generate by being back on TV.”
According to AB World Foods, 76% of UK adults enjoy Indian food, making it the second most popular ethnic cuisine behind Oriental (79%).
AB World Foods has introduced a Hot amp; Spicy range to its portfolio, Hot Tikka Masala, Extra Hot Vindaloo and Extra, Extra Hot Phal.
Nic Yates, Patak’s marketing controller at AB World Foods, says: “With a 4% growth in the sauces in glass category in the last year, we have seen that consumers are increasingly looking to make quick, tasty and hassle-free meals.”
Ed Culf, marketing director at General Mills UK, says: “The success of our Extra Mild, Super Tasty kit has proven that our consumer insights were right on the money. There is clearly a demand for a milder option across the category, particularly for families looking for convenient, tasty, interesting and new meal solutions. With the launch of the Extra Mild Enchilada kit building on the success of the range, and a selection of stir-in sauces recently rolling out across the trade, we expect to see this category continue to grow.
“Mexican is currently the strongest ethnic cuisine above both Indian and Oriental and Old El Paso has continued to lead the market through the recession as we have continued to grow our penetration and introduce new shoppers into the market.
“We have really seen the benefits of above-the-line investment for Old El Paso and are confident that our TV advertising burst will inspire customers to engage with the fun and exciting element of Mexican cuisine, and encourage them to enjoy them as part of social situations with their friends or family.”
Tasneem Backhouse, sales director, EHL Ingredients (Stockport), says: “The wholesale channel is key for us as it’s is one of our main routes to market, especially to reach the foodservice sector, independent retailers and wholefoods stores, as well as international food outlets. We also sell to bottling and packing companies who pack our products down into smaller pack sizes to be sold on to retailers.
“We work with many regional delivered wholesalers as well as ethnic wholesalers, and Asian food stores to supply our quality herbs and spices, either in conventional or organic format.
“Our most popular products in wholesale are ground black pepper and peppercorns, white pepper, crushed chillies and birds eye chillies. Seeds such as sunflower, blue and white poppy seeds, sesame and pumpkin are also key lines in this sector, especially for developing bakery items. We sell significant amounts of rice (Easy Cook, Basmati and Long Grain) to the foodservice sectors and we have noted a rise in sales of our black onion seeds or ‘kalonji’ seeds, used in various bakeries.
“Wholesale is a busy channel for us all year round but in the run-up to festivals such as Easter we see a definite increase in seeds and seasonal spices, such as mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon. In the months before Christmas we note a rise in dried fruits and nuts. Before Eid there is a higher demand for products such as dates and cardamom, while during summer months spices for meat marinades are popular as well as our Mexican Chilli range.”
Within foodservice, Simon Cliff, general sales manager foodservice, Daloon Foods (UK), says: “Frozen ethnic snacks foods as a market sector has continued to expand as the latest market figures clearly show below. Retail market statistics provide an interesting insight into the increasing popularity of Frozen Ethnic Snack Foods in the UK with trends in the Foodservice market tending to mirror the retail sector.
“Kantar Worldpanel (52 weeks to 25th Dec 2011) showed just how well the frozen ethnic snack market performed in the current challenging economic climate. Over the last two-year period (Dec 2009 to Dec 2011) the frozen ethnic snacks market grew by +10.3% in value. This compares with a growth of +6.5% for total frozen prepared foods.
“Spend per buyer increased by +2.0% over this same two period, while purchase frequency increased by +12.2%.
“Oriental frozen ethnic snacks continue to be the most popular cuisine accounting for 51% of the total frozen ethnic snacks market by value. Indian frozen ethnic snacks are the second most popular cuisine and showed a +16% increase by value between Dec 2010 and Dec 2011.
“Daloon sees both the cash and carry and delivered wholesale sectors as particularly important and has tailored its product ranges and pack formats specifically for each sector. This strong focus on each channel has lead to a significant presence in both, with many wholesalers and cash and carries stocking Daloon’s range of frozen ethnic snack foods.
“Daloon continues to launch innovative products to meet customer demands. A prime example of this proactive strategy is the recent launch of two new premium brands Great Dragon and Great Tiger, both designed to capitalise on the growth of top end quality frozen ethnic snack foods and ideal stocking lines for wholesalers and cash and carries.”
Christina Hardiman, marketing manager for Mars Foodservice, which owns the Uncle Ben’s brand, says: “Display and awareness is key in the wholesale channel, and we encourage our customers to highlight key deals and products in-depot and in brochures to help end users find great deals easily. We perpetuate this through good communication and trust.
“However, we’d like to see wholesalers make more of the extra support we provide caterers, including the promotional days we offer with our development chef and his team.
“Through this type of support, we aim to show caterers the benefits of the sauces, which is worth highlighting before or at the point of sales. For instance, we have demonstrated the Indian sauces’ versatility by cooking up variations on traditional meatballs, swapping beef and pork for turkey and lamb mince, right through to Tikka Masala as a marinade for fish.
“Ultimately, the main challenge is helping wholesalers communicate the message that branded, ready-to-use sauces can be cost-effective. Our sauces are robust and hearty, not runny, and extend to the point that caterers still get a superior yield. Coupled with their versatility to be used in a wide range of ethnic dishes, this brings the cost right down.
“New products such as the 100% extra free pack and running promotional deals with high value prizes make selling that much easier for wholesalers. For example, last year we offered a ‘buy so many jars of sauce and get a free camera’ promotion, an ideal way to encourage end users to test drive the products.”
Mumtaz Ali, senior negotiator,
Bestway and Batleys
Bestway enjoys good consistent sales from its range of ethnic foods. Cofresh is still a very popular brand in the Indian snacks side of the business. The Afro Caribbean foods are selling well and are varied from sauces to soft drinks.
Suppliers like Wanis and Enco/Grace Brothers with its Nurishment Original sells well and Encona Sauces. Grace Brothers provides interesting products including its canned meat and fish and sauces and soups and Levi Roots with its famous reggae sauces is one of the best examples of a brand that has excelled itself. In lots of ways the traditional ethnic market has now fast become ‘normalised’ and is moving towards a more popular and regular shop with greater numbers of consumers and not just the original ethnic groups who -moved to the UK.
It is also interesting to note that some of the multiples are displaying much bigger ranges of these foods, in some cases, devoting exclusive aisles to the products. Perhaps this is a policy that the independents should be considering, albeit that they don’t have anything like the space to devote to them.