Author: Matthew Batham
Source: Talking Retail
Authenticity is a major driving force for today’s more worldly-wise consumer. However, according to Robinson, many consumers struggle to find the ingredients they need to recreate their favourite recipes. “Consumption of world cuisine remains significantly higher out of home than it is at home, with shoppers often struggling to find authentic dishes they can cook in their own kitchens,” he says. “This presents retailers with an opportunity to drive further sales by ensuring they are stocking everything shoppers need for cooking a variety of authentic world dishes at home.”
The demand for more-authentic world flavours extends to bagged snack products. Says Debbie King, director of commercial sales and marketing at Indian snack brand Cofresh: “With an estimated 10 million lunch occasions now involving Indian food, the consumer appetite for hot and strong flavours shows no sign of diminishing any time soon – which of course means there are some great opportunities out there in the grocery calendar.” King believes there is an opportunity for stores to capitalise on special occasions such as Diwali, which are increasingly being embraced by the wider UK population. Cofresh has helped retailers take advantage of these potential sales uplifts with special promotional packs. During Diwali, for example, the company offers its best-selling Chakri and Bombay Mix in bumper sharing packs.
According to Jake Karia, managing director of Food Attraction, which owns the Jake & Nayns’ brand, retailers can learn a lot from leading food-to-go operators such as Leon and Itsu. “They offer a better and tastier variety of foods, charge considerably more and are very busy. We want to bring these ways of business development, flavours and concepts into independent stores.”
Street food has become the culinary buzzword of the last year, and according to Karia, the Jake & Nayns’ range of filled naans, burritos and samosas are all designed to deliver the same taste experience as street food, but in a packaged format. The secret to encouraging sales of more-adventurous food-to-go lines, he believes, is to mix in new, more challenging brands with tried-and-tested favourites.
This same tactic could be used across the store when it comes to encouraging sales of world foods. Maria Chong, managing director of Chinese sauce specialist Lee Kum Kee Europe, believes sales of more unusual sauces could be dramatically boosted if they were mixed in with the ever-popular soy sauce. Says Chong: “Despite the nation’s love of Chinese food, usage of a broad range of Chinese sauces beyond soy sauce is still fairly unfamiliar to the mainstream public and more education is needed to help consumers and the trade get the best out of them. For example, sesame oil is great for dressing, but it doesn’t hold up well as a frying oil as the temperature tolerance is fairly low, similar to olive oil. Dark soy sauce is not meant to be for seasoning, it is mainly used for its colouring. There’s a real opportunity to engage consumers with Chinese food, products and dishes, and discovering such tips will help drive long-term growth.”
Education and merchandising can also help drive impulse purchase of both sauces and ingredients, believes Chong. “Our retail partners have seen huge success from leveraging seasonal occasions like Chinese New Year, where they’ve implemented themed displays, on-shelf materials and cross-merchandising Chinese sauces with fresh ingredients – including vegetables, rice and mushrooms.”
One sector to have evolved with the demand for greater variety is rice. With the grain forming the basis of so many world cuisines, it is not surprising rice is worth a staggering £18.7m to the convenience sector and is growing at 4.1% year on year. Leading brand Tilda tests the market regularly with limited editions. Its Limited Edition Caribbean Rice & Peas proved so successful, says the brand, that it is now a regular part of Tilda’s Steamed range.
Anne Beheshti, brand lead at Tilda, agrees that offering consumers ‘meal solutions’ so they can put together recipes at home is the way forward. “The opportunity to improve on this lies with creating secondary space in stores with the ambient components of the meal solution featuring together on gondola ends, for instance,” she says. With the Caribbean named as the fifth most-popular holiday destination for Brits in 2018 by Thomas Cook, and Morocco making it to number nine on the Loveholidays.com list of most popular destinations, demand for more adventurous world food flavours is definitely here to stay.