On December 25 most families will sit down for the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. According to TNS data (eight weeks ending December 28, 2008), six million British households purchased turkey for Christmas last year.
The name Bernard Matthews is synonymous with turkey and the company’s marketing director, Matt Pullen, believes that in this cost-conscious climate turkey will be even more popular this year.
“Consumers will still be watching their budgets this Christmas,” he says, “but they’re not going to do without the festive family meal. Compared to other meats, turkey offers great value for money as well as tradition and great taste, and it’s one of the healthiest proteins available.”
He reckons that after adding in the traditional Christmas vegetables and trimmings, a family gathering of 16 can eat for as little as £4 a head, with plenty of turkey left over for other meals on the following days.
Bernard Matthews Farms’ Golden Norfolk Turkey is available through Nisa and Palmer amp; Harvey.
Pullen says it is his company’s ‘gold standard’ product and it is 100% British from farms in East Anglia.
This year’s new additions to the range include a Turkey Ballotine with Apricot amp; Date Stuffing, Turkey Roulade with Sage, Roast Onion amp; Apple Seasoning and a Herb Basted Turkey Crown.
The company is running a consumer PR campaign in women’s press and also has a Christmas website, www.bernardmatthewsfarms.com/christmas. Available on the site is a downloadable booklet, ‘The Merry Little Book of Christmas Dinners’, with tips for cooking and serving the perfect turkey, as well as recipes for leftovers.
The British Turkey Federation is also campaigning this Christmas with activity themed around the value of turkey. Kicking off on December 1, it is expected to hit 35 million households. Chefs will deliver a wide selection of freshly cooked leftover meat to TV and radio presenters to show what can be done with the turkey after Christmas lunch.
Catriona Lee, chairman of the British Turkey Federation’s marketing committee, explains: “Economic pressures mean everyone will be looking to make the most of their budgets this Christmas, so our message to them is that a whole turkey offers exceptional value for money. A 5kg turkey will provide at least 30 meals including Christmas lunch. You would be hard put to find any other meat at Christmas which delivers such value and taste.”
Paxo stuffing benefits from being a traditional Christmas product, with 30% of its annual volume being bought during the eight-week run up to Christmas. According to brand owner Premier Foods, last year a quarter of UK households bought Paxo in the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas. A variety of Paxo products are available again this Christmas, including Wild Sage amp; Red Onion and Chestnut amp; Cranberry varieties.
Another traditional accompaniment to turkey is, of course, cranberry sauce so it should come as no surprise that two-thirds of the sauce’s sales happen at Christmas.
Caroline Rose, business development manager at Ocean Spray Foods, says Ocean Spray created the cranberry sauce market in the UK with the introduction of original cranberry sauce in the late 1970s. “It remains the number one brand today and over the years it has become synonymous with all things cranberry.”
This year, Booker, Nisa and Makro will be offering retailers and caterers a 25% price discount across the Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce range.
After dinner comes the good old Christmas pud more often than not served with lashings of custard. IRI data reveals that 35% of all custard is sold over the Christmas period. Premier Foods is well placed to take advantage of this with its Ambrosia and Birds ranges. Ambrosia will be supported by a significant marketing campaign this Christmas, including recipe cards, direct mail and POS materials. This will support Ambrosia Devon custard as well as the recently launched chocolate custard 465g.
Although we’re deep into a recession, shoppers are still likely to want to treat themselves this Christmas. There are plenty of products for them to choose from but no doubt they will be looking for value. Walkers has the answer with its 99p sharing bags. Featuring Doritos Tangy Cheese, Cool Original, Extreme Chilli Heatwave and Lightly Salted, all in 125g bags, as well as Walkers Ready Salted and Cheese amp; Onion, both in 120g bags. Monster Munch Roast Beef 85g, Quavers Cheese 65g, Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli 95g, and Sensations Southern Styled Barbecue 95g are also price-marked at just 99p. And they are all available in ‘retail ready packaging’ designed to make it easier for retailers to build secondary displays with associated products, such as beers, wines and spirits and take-home soft drinks.
Meanwhile, United Biscuits UK has extended its KP nuts sharing drums with the launch of two new flavours Salt amp; Vinegar and Spicy Chilli Jumbo Peanuts. In addition the drums are now resealable. Sales of KP nuts extra free bags last year were strong so the 300g and 500g bags are back, both with 20% extra free.
Onto sweeter things, and Christmas is a critical time for the cake category. According to IRI data, during the last three weeks of the festive sales period, Christmas cakes account for more then half of total cake sales.
Premier Foods’ Mr Kipling, Cadbury and Lyons cake brands account for 12 of the top 25 branded SKUs at Christmas, with Mr Kipling mince pies the clear number one, selling more than five times the amount of the second best seller.
This Christmas sees the launch of limited edition packs of Mr Kipling Rum amp; Raisin Slices and Lyons Family Mince Pie as well as the return of Mr Kipling Festive Fancies. In addition, Cadbury Bites will be available in two variants: Orange and Mint, in handy boxes for after dinner.
Over at UBUK, there are new McVitie’s Penguin Yule Logs, launched because of the success of the all-year-round Penguin Mini Rolls. And McVitie’s Christmas Jamaica Ginger amp; Rum is back following buoyant sales last Christmas. Also included in the Christmas range are McVitie’s Irish Cream Bars and McVitie’s Mint Digestive.
In its biscuits range, McVitie’s has the new Disney Cookies amp; Cream assortment and a Classic Collection gifting tin. Within the Jaffa Cakes range there is the novelty Jaffa Cake present, created as an alternative to the Jaffa Yard.
Fox’s has a new Christmas selection box Fox’s Wonders. It comes in a metallic purple tin, and the company hopes it will appeal to a more contemporary audience than traditional biscuit assortments. Wonders comes in a 400g tin, with six tins to a shelf ready case.
The launch is supported by a series of radio promotions on commercial stations, and a consumer PR campaign in key lifestyle publications.
Burton’s has re-introduced Maryland to its seasonal range via a ‘Merryland’ cookies tub for in-home sharing and a white choc chip mini cookies carton.
Within the Cadbury’s seasonal biscuit range there are new lines including the Cadbury Cookie selection.
Ice cream might not seem ideal for consuming in the depths of winter but Andy Foweather, sales director of General Mills UK, says sales of Häagen-Dazs always do well at this time of year: “Our expectations are high for Häagen-Dazs this Christmas. Analysis of IRI market data tells us that half of brand sales were generated in the winter months last year so we know Häagen-Dazs sells well around Christmas.”
Häagen-Dazs Baileys is a particular seasonal favourite, accounting for 15% of the brand’s sales in the lead up to Christmas. The new Limited Edition flavour is Mascarpone, Passion Fruit amp; Truffles. General Mills UK is supporting Häagen-Dazs with consumer advertising and in-store promotions.