dragon-bottleThe rise of the celebrity chef, the increased interest in cookery shows like Masterchef and the trend towards dining at home, mean many consumers are looking for ways to tropicalize everyday dishes to give them a feel of something new and different. That’s the message from Wanis, the Afro Caribbean food specialists.

Within mainstream grocery, the Ethnic food and drink category is the fastest growth area, and with Indian and Chinese having matured, this growth is being driven by Caribbean, African and Polish foods, and many products once considered “exotic” are now used by a much larger proportion of the population. To demonstrate, last year Wanis’ Tropical Sun range of products produced like-for-like annual sales growth of 40% in one of the high street supermarket chains.

This phenomenal growth is achievable because Caribbean food is now becoming popular with mainstream consumers, who are now more comfortable experimenting in their kitchens, and this makes Caribbean food well loved beyond its core market. Wanis are seeing increased “fusion cooking”, where traditional dishes are being tropicalized, for example cheeseboards accompanied by guava jam, brie dipped into sweet mango chilli sauce or scrambled eggs eaten with hot pepper sauce.


The Wanis product range covers the entire spectrum of African and Caribbean staples, and all the brands they represent have iconic status in their native countries, with brand leadership in their respective segments. Food has a powerful hold on our memories. As much as we remember people and places, we remember the time we ate that spectacular jerk chicken, that delicious sweet plantain and recreating that authentic meal, be it ackee saltfish, jollof rice, suya, curry goat or guava toast – becomes a way of connecting to our past and good times. For example the Baron’s sauces from St. Lucia were sampled at Taste of London and created a storm with their Banana Ketchup and Green seasoning.

Wanis’ products are known for  quality, consistency and authenticity as demonstrated by Tropical Sun’s Guava Jelly, which won a 3 Gold Star award in 2009 at the Great Taste Awards, which had over 4,800 product entries and only eighty three 3 Gold Star winners.

Consumers are looking for brand heritage. They want products that they have grown up with, and that they know provide consistent quality and authenticity: the Tropical Sun range of products has very strong visual equity, which offers good shelf visibility and easy recognition, as well as characterising the Afro-Caribbean vibe.

Wanis trade with wholesalers and Independents the length and breadth of the UK, and despite regional variations they are able to clearly pick out those brands and products that are “must haves.”

Individual products will always stand out, such as Jamaica Sun ackee and Jerk seasoning, but authenticity and variety are at the heart of all brands Wanis represent. These qualities make Baron sauces, Bigga drinks, Dragon Stout and Tropical Sun spices amongst others the perfect choice for the diverse and growing opportunity in Ethnic food and drink – there’s something for everyone.

New for 2010

• Tropical Sun Caribbean Curry Paste – a concentrate that can be used both for basting and also watered down to make a Caribbean curry sauce. It’s so simple it should become one of Delia’s cheat ingredients!

• Nrichment – a new healthy energy flavoured milk drink was recently launched. Research demonstrated the need for a drink with great taste that could plug the hunger gap and also provide healthy energy. Nrichment is low in fat but high in taste and health.  (www.nrichment.com)

• Bigga soft drinks have brought out Mango and Pomegranate, just in time for summer, which demonstrates both innovation and an understanding of their target audience.

With many consumers embracing digital marketing Wanis have decided to use this medium as a platform to educate and engage the consumers, and recently launched a Tropical Sun Foods website and a Dragon Stout website, www.tropicalsunfoods.com and www.dragonstout.co.uk. They both seek to cement each brand’s presence and personality in its respective market. Wanis are also carrying out extensive product sampling as a means to bring new consumers into the sector.

Making the best of the opportunity

386It is critical for stores to assess their customer profile and this will drive the product range selection and their merchandising decisions. However certain products like Dragon Stout, Tropical Sun hot pepper sauce, Tilda rice and Old Jamaica ginger beer appeal to any consumer and have broad appeal. The more diverse your customer base, the more important it is to have brands people recognise. The World Food aisles can be a scary place for the average English consumer, so giving prominence to a few established brands is the easiest way to ensure familiarity, leading to uptake and repeat purchases. The majority of early adopters and new consumers are more concerned with authenticity and value for money than price promotion, and this is something that some stores seem to underestimate, basing their merchandising decisions on experience of ‘English’ grocery.

Finally, product information and presentation should form a central focus for in-store merchandising. Every product’s packaging should provide the basic information for consumers to make the right choice. Wanis’s range of products offers eye-catching appeal and comprehensive information on-pack to achieve the right balance of visibility, authenticity and quality.

Wanis Limited   Tel: +44 (0)20 8988 1100   www.wanis.com

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