KTC (Edibles) Ltd, founded in 1971, is probably best known in the UK as the largest family owned manufacturer and distributor of high quality cooking oils and fats, supplying over 250 million litres a year. However, KTC offers in excess of 300 food products, from tinned pulses and tomatoes to gram flour and coconut oil. Other brands in the Company’s portfolio include Suncrest drinks as well as the popular Caribbean brand Sea Isle. KTC is the essential ingredient for all cuisines whether Korean Street Food, Caribbean Soul Food or the ever increasing demand for regional specialities from across the globe. Operating from a purpose built 240,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Wednesbury and a second 80,000 sq. ft. plant in Liverpool KTC is a formidable supplier to the grocery trade with adaptable ingredients that can hit the mark for all manner of nuanced food trends, whether you’re looking to create a Shawarma or a delicious Keralan Curry.
KTC doesn’t look to follow food trends but as a business it is well ahead of the curve when it comes to world foods. In fact KTC has been serving ethnic shoppers for well over 40 years, focusing on the needs of those consumers for whom world foods are not trends but staples in their diet. KTC was built on being an ethnic brand, providing not only for the needs of Britain’s ever changing demographic but also for mainstream Britain’s love of ethnic food. This, coupled with the fact that KTC products are authentic, great quality and good value, has insured the brand has also been embraced by large swathes of the UK’s indigenous population. Take, for example, the huge wave in popularity amongst mainstream health conscious shoppers for coconut oil, which saw a number of food companies scrambling to get this into production, whereas KTC had already been supplying coconut oil in the UK for over 20 years, long before the recent surge in sales. Not only does coconut oil add great authenticity to south Indian, Indonesian and Thai dishes but it is also being hailed a new super food. Populations that consume more coconut oil are amongst the healthiest in the world and shoppers globally are now using the oil more widely than ever before.
Food trends are obviously always moving and shifting and KTC’s philosophy is to provide a broad spectrum of ingredients, all authentic and sourced from around the globe, which allows the grocery trade to react to consumers’ demands. This is certainly true with coconut oil where KTC was able to act on increased demand swiftly offering the grocery trade continuity in supply and service, which is vital. Paresh Mehta, Commercial Director, KTC, comments: “KTC is a world food brand in every sense of the word. Our business is geared up to service the ethnic communities of the UK, providing good quality authentic foods and ingredients to help create cuisines from around the globe. We work closely with trusted suppliers to ensure that quality is always at the forefront. KTC and Sea Isle are household names amongst Asian and Caribbean communities across the UK because these discerning shoppers know they are brands they can trust.”
Another recent trend that KTC has been able to cater for instantly is the penchant for gourmet convenience food which also continues unabated with Turkish food now getting the gastro treatment. The kebab has long been a late night call but now we’re learning that Turkish food is more nuanced, healthy and fresh with an abundance of flavour and Turkish restaurants are popping up all over the UK. This Mezze style dining is proving popular, which means consumers will be making hummus, falafel and flatbread at home and guess what? KTC can provide all the necessary ingredients from lemon juice and olive oil to chick peas and pulses. The restaurant industry undoubtedly leads the grocery trade and there’s a definite return to a “back to basics” style of cooking particularly over charcoal and people will be looking for ways to pimp things up a bit. In line with this there is a real trend for spicier, stronger flavours for which the Sea Isle spices and seasonings range can be the perfect answer.
People in the UK want to eat wholesome tasty food and are moving away from processed foods with lots of additives, which is great news for KTC and Sea Isle. Consumers also want to eat regional cuisine. No longer is it good enough to go for a curry or a Chinese – consumers want to try a Goan Curry or Szechuan chicken as they are looking for food that’s authentic and has real provenance. KTC’s broad base of products means it’s central to innovations and trends as it has all the ingredients to create all manner of dishes.
Asked to discuss plans for the future of the business Paresh advises: “KTC still sees one of its major roles as providing good quality and affordable ingredients to Britain’s diverse ethnic communities but with the introduction of speciality products the business is strongly placed to increase its growing popularity with mainstream shoppers too.”
KTC is enjoying a very busy 2015, as the appetite for authentic ethnic cuisine amongst the UK’s growing ethnic communities as well as with the mainstream shopper seems unabated. The desire for ever more authentic, healthy ingredients, that are good quality, as well as good value, is on the rise. The appeal of the ready meal is waning as people want to create their own dishes whether from scratch or using marinades and sauces so there is cooking involved. This is the undoubted influence of restaurants, foreign travel and the many of cookery shows on TV. You only have to see an episode of Master Chef to see people’s culinary influences are from far flung places. Whereas the foodie of yesteryear might have pointed to France as a big culinary influence, Japan, India, Korea and the Middle East are just as significant today.
Paresh Mehta, comments: “Our research has shown that people are still crazy about world foods, but they want greater authenticity to create dishes at home so they know what they’re feeding their families. This has been great for KTC and Sea Isle as we supply so many staples for ethnic dishes, whether it’s tinned groceries, lemon juice, rice, ghee or pulses. The list is endless.”
The food industry in many ways is like the fashion industry and KTC will always offer the core staples it’s known for, however the company is constantly looking to inspire the UK to look at new products. From its inception to today the KTC team is dedicated to helping all the UK explore the exciting world of food.