The planet on a plate Discovering the world’s cultures through our taste buds

Shoppers feeling jaded after Christmas needn’t find their passports to get away from it all, just get down to their local supermarket then go on a voyage of discovery in the safety of their kitchen. The World Foods category is growing, with shoppers increasingly looking to spice up their meal times and create an authentic experience at home.

Currently worth £1.4 billion, it accounts for a 4.7% share and growing of total ambient grocery sales.

One of the host of cuisines presently seeing a boom in popularity, Mexican food is now worth £170 million and rising. Lindsay Hill, Marketing Manager, Meals and Baking at General Mills, makers of the Old El Paso brand, tells the story:

“Mexican is a firm favourite among Brits. The UK’s top two fastest growing restaurant chains are Mexican, however more and more consumers are choosing to spend money re-creating the restaurant experience at home. This presents a fantastic opportunity for retailers to grow sales by stocking products that allow shoppers to do just that.”

OId El Paso is helping retailers capitalise on this ever-growing demand with their market-leading Mexican meal kits and products. Lindsay Hill continues:

“We have a rich heritage; the brand was founded in El Paso in 1938 and we were the first to create a Mexican meal kit back in 1969. It’s this experience that has seen us grow to become a £100 million brand in the UK.”

The brand’s recent Day of the Dead campaign also capitalised on a wellknown Mexican occasion turned popular trend, and has seen great success across the U.K. The throughthe- line campaign included a ‘Win a Trip to Mexico’ on-pack competition supported by social media, PR and limited-edition packaging.

As well as developing products in accordance with the latest trends, Old El Paso makes sure they cater to as many people as possible. Their Gluten Free Fajita kit has seen great success, and they are currently working on extending the range.

“A large number of millennials now describe themselves as foodies, which offers a significant opportunity to the World Food category and brands like Old El Paso. Our focus has always been on maximising trends whilst ensuring convenience and speed is key, and this will continue.”

A world in your lunch break

If consumers are really pushed for time they can even enjoy the authentic tastes of different cuisines in their lunch break, at home or at work, thanks to Symington’s, brand owners of Mug Shot and Ragu. Kevin Butterworth, Symington’s Marketing Director says:

“Consumers are consistently seeking products with more authentic flavours which are still convenient and filling. Our Big Eat Noodle Pots are available in four varieties: Singapore, Green Thai, Mee Goreng and Chicken Penang. They are a third bigger than our standard pots. We’ve also launched a range of Noodle Based Meal Soups which replicate the noodle bar experience onthe- go or at home in two varieties, Hot & Sour and Laksa.”

Symington’s have also reinvigorated the iconic Chicken Tonight brand with the launch of a range of ultraconvenient cooking sauce pouches with delicious, contemporary flavours to inject excitement into the big night in occasion. Drawing on restaurant favourites and the consumer demand for more exotic world flavours, the range includes Aromatic Moroccan Lemon & Herb, Hot & Spicy Jamaican Jerk, Fiery Salt & Pepper Chilli and Fragrant Coconut & Lime Leaf Curry flavours. Available in 250g pouches, the range showcases bold new black and yellow packaging, which is being introduced across the entire Chicken Tonight portfolio, to enhance stand out on shelf and appeal to new and existing customers alike. The range of pouches contains no added sugar, is gluten free and based on natural, authentic kitchen cupboard ingredients to create fresh flavours.

SNACKS FROM THE SUBCONTINENT

Indian street snacks have been with us for many years, but our tastes are getting bolder and bolder, says Debbie King, Director of Commercial Sales & Marketing at Cofresh, the UK’s No 1 Indian snack brand with 9 out of the top 10 Indian snack products and a range of over 200 different ‘world food’ snack products:

“Consumers’ tastebuds are getting bolder and they’re seeking out ever more ethnically authentic and exciting flavours.”

This growing trend for spicy snacking and sharing is definitely influencing the market. Indian snacks now represent 77% of world snacks, which is growing faster than any other savoury snacks category.

Cofresh’s best-selling range of Asian Mixes, led by the lightly spiced ‘nation’s favourite’ Bombay Mix, now also features the new variants Khatta Meeta and Chilli & Lemon, one of Cofresh’s most popular flavours but never before incorporated into a Mix. The popular potato-based ‘Grills’ range has also expanded with the addition of three new trending flavours – Piri, Chilli Cheese and Sweet Chilli. All six Grills flavours also now contain 30% less fat, reflecting increased consumer demand for healthier versions of their favourite snacks.

“The world foods snacks market is currently very buoyant with Indian snacks driving ninety percent of all world snacks growth,” adds King.

“Continued consumer demand for new, authentic and bolder flavours, the rise of in-home socialising and our investment in the Cofresh brand all combine to help push the world foods category forward, but greater consumer interest in healthier snacking is also having a significant effect.”

Cofresh are committed to in-store promotions, based on two key strands – rewarding loyal consumers, for example with targeted reduced price multi-buy offers, and attracting new consumers through temporary price reductions. Debbie King concludes:

“Year-round promotions both in-store and online help maximise opportunity. We also focus on the great sharing and snacking opportunities which major calendar events like Ramadan, Diwali and Christmas present, with big value pack formats for these key selling times.”

Discover Africa, the Caribbean and beyond with Wanis

Wanis, one of the UK’s biggest international food wholesalers represent big name brands including Africa’s Finest, Nrich, Carib and Tropical Sun. Wanis Marketing Manager Julian Davis says:

“We take great care in developing products that are authentic, in partnership with chefs and producers who have an intricate understanding of the traditions and history of specific dishes and recipes. This is vital, especially as we have been serving core ethnic communities for more than twenty one years and know that they value authenticity and cultural traditions. Whilst there is a lot of scope to innovate in this space, getting it right is critical to maintaining brand loyalty and reaching out to new consumers.”

Having started as a small business, bringing niche and specialist ingredients like Ackee, Callaloo and Gari to the UK’s African and Caribbean consumers, the Tropical Sun brand has grown its range to include products from all over the world including Asia and South America.

Today, Tropical Sun has a wide range of high quality products from all over the world, covering several categories including drinks, snacks, sauces, rice, seasonings and specialist ingredients. It has won 19 Great Taste Awards, has continued to deliver consistent year-onyear growth and the brand’s logo has come to symbolise quality and give shoppers assurance.

Meanwhile the World Foods category is changing rapidly, one of the reasons why Tropical Sun has radically increased investment into new product development and consumer engagement. Marketing Manager Julian Davis says:

“Whilst staying incredibly loyal to our core shoppers, who have made us what we are, we have actively courted new consumers. This includes adventurous foodies, those curious about the category, shoppers looking for exotic recipe solutions, as well as those who want simply tropicalise dishes they already love to cook.”

The move towards premiumisation within World Foods will continue to grow, says Julian. “Research suggests that consumers who already shop World Foods are interested in new products, want more choice and are willing to pay more for high quality authentic World Foods. “We have really stepped up our efforts to inform consumers about product usage and recipe ideas. This includes more information on-pack, on our website and increased on-ground engagement. We have highlighted the simpler dishes to make, which are quick and convenient, including using our Jerk Paste to make Jerk Chicken, or our curry paste to make a Caribbean Curry. Then there is the more complex – using our Young Green Jackfruit, to make a vegan filling for Mexican taco.”

Make a date for Chinese New Year Finally, a major culinary event coming up that everyone can share in is Chinese New Year, celebrated on Tuesday 5th February. Ennevor Yap, Director of Wing Yip, the UK’s leading Oriental grocer, says Chinese New Year is a great opportunity for retailers to spice up their food and drink sales in the bleak midwinter and highlight Oriental cuisine’s wide-ranging variety of foods and flavours, all of which are increasingly popular:

“The Wing Yip Oriental Food Report reveals that Chinese is one of the most popular among consumers in the UK. We’re progressively seeing the street food culture grow as consumers are travelling more and expanding their taste palates. People are constantly seeking new and exciting dishes inspired from this street food trend, and shoppers are experimenting with new flavours and ingredients to offer something new to the menu.

“We’re currently seeing huge popularity emerging for sharing dishes such as dim sum and dumplings, especially during key culinary occasions such as Chinese New Year, where family and friends gather to celebrate.”

Wing Yip’s range of Oriental ingredients can be used to add authentic flavour to popular dishes. For example, says Ennevor Yap, adding a spoonful of Massaman curry paste can give a dish a Thai taste or hot pepper paste can add a Korean kick to a stir-fry, while mushroom sauce makes a great addition to any dish and is a great vegetarian alternative to Oyster sauce. Another range Wing Yip have seen a significant increase in demand for is their Mai Siam range:

“This is mainly due to the fact none of the products contain any fish sauce or shrimp paste, making it an ideal alternative product, especially for vegans. From the mainstream rice and noodles, to the more specialist ingredients such as Oriental vegetables, fresh fish including shellfish, and authentic pastes and oils, Wing Yip provides easy access to Oriental ingredients for traditional or more experimental Far Eastern dishes. For those looking for a quick serve option, a wide variety of stir-in sauces provide an authentic taste with minimum ingredients, while the Fried Rice Seasoning creates delicious Chinese rice in minutes.