Stocks & Sauces - Stock value

05/10/2016 - 07:00
The rise of free from food has had a big effect on the stocks and cooking sauce sector with more products now catering for special dietary requirements as well as more interesting flavours. Sheila Eggleston reports.

Allergen awareness has boomed since the introduction of the EU Food Information for Consumers legislation at the end of 2014, and consequently influenced suppliers’ decisions to make changes to their repertoires.

The growth of free from food has seen analysts such as Mintel forecasting the market will reach £673m by 2020 from an estimated value of £470m in 2015. But its appeal goes beyond those with allergies or food intolerances to consumers making a lifestyle decision because they want ‘better for you’ products.

Ready-to-use stocks and sauces reassure pubs and restaurants that all the necessary dietary requirements have been met rather than having to make them from scratch, which takes hours. However, today’s “intelligent” cooking equipment from suppliers such as Frima’s VarioCooking Center Multificiency system does offer caterers wanting to make their own a chance to provide them more quickly and safely.

Food distributor Country Range group trading director, Martin Ward, says it decided last year to overhaul its bouillon range. “We relaunched our beef, chicken and vegetable lines and feedback and interest has been extremely positive,” he comments. “The new recipe bouillons mixes come in 2kg tubs and the pastes in 1kg tubs; both pack in more flavour while also being allergen-free.”

For many chefs, products that are allergen-free and suitable for halal, vegan and vegetarian diets need to be sourced, comments Willem Fijten, culinary product design scientist for Mars Global Product Development, which produces Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s ready-to-use sauces suitable for these diets.

“The sauces reduce effort while delivering maximum flavour,” explains Fijten. “There is no need to source fresh ingredients, and the trial and error in developing dishes is eliminated.”

Essential Cuisine – ‘The Stock People’, which offers stocks low in fat and salt, and contains no hydrogenated oils, MSG, artificial colours or preservatives, cites figures from Horizons, which claim that 55% of consumers who choose free from food suffer no intolerances.

“In a recent survey by the Change Group, 89% of chefs said they were taking food intolerances into account when planning menus,” adds managing director, Nigel Crane. “At 94%, gluten was the allergen given the most consideration followed by dairy (82%), peanut (72%) and egg (59%).”

Recently the company launched the Essential Book of British Inspiration – a free downloadable guide offering advice on cooking with the seasons, guidance on allergens, and tips from chef peers, including British Culinary Federation chairman, Matt Davies.

Brian Eastment, executive development chef at Major International, echoes the view that readymade products help address dietary needs when formulating menus. “Made with natural ingredients, our stocks, gravies, jus and marinades give chefs a clean label, low levels of salt and carry seals of approval with regards to specific dietary requirements,” he explains.

At this year’s Lunch Show, the company launched its Korean Mari Base, an authentically made marinade with chilli, garlic, ginger and toasted notes of sesame oil. Major’s managing director, David Bryant, worked with its US and UK NPD teams to develop it, which resulted in a gluten-free product with a “wow factor”.

Sarah Robb, channel marketing manager at Premier Foodservice, says cuisine styles like barbecue, ramen and Middle Eastern, British and Italian feature heavily on high street menus, which pubs should capitalise on. “Our Bisto ramen noodles with pork shoulder for example was developed by our executive chef Mark Rigby to show them a new way to use Bisto chicken bouillon,” she advises.

Last year, the company extended the Bisto gravy range with a gluten-free variant to respond to demand for free from products.

When it comes to sauces, Robb says the most popular sauce on high street menus is garlic, followed by chilli, according to research from analyst MCA Foodservice, thanks to their versatility when combined with ingredients in cuisines such as Mexican and American.

“The American flavour trend has grown by 35% out of home and shows no sign of slowing down,” comments Robb, adding that its Homepride sauces help this trend by using them to create favourites like Mexican chilli con carne and American-style smoky barbecue chicken wings.

Kerry Foodservice has entered the market with what it describes as an exclusive foodservice range of bouillons, marinades and reductions under the name of Chef’s Pass. It debuted at this year’s Casual Dining Show, and Kerry’s confidence in the products is underlined by the promise of a money back guarantee if they don’t deliver.

It was the right time to create a new brand and a new range for this market, says Florent Dymala, brand manager for Chef’s Pass, who says the product was developed with taste as the primary objective. “That’s what a chef will do when he first tries a product, and that’s what we’ve concentrated on,” he comments.

Initially the range consisted of dry rub marinades in four peri peri variants plus a 90g onion reduction that caramelises 1kg of onions in eight minutes. It has now been extended with liquid, paste and powder bouillons, two smoky marinades – ‘clean smoke’ and gluten-free Tennessee and Louisiana variants, and a smoky hickory and oak reduction.

Other Kerry products designed to help chefs are ready-to-use hollandaise and béchamel sauces. “Kerrymaid’s new kitchen sauces boast great taste, texture and flavour and come in a versatile and ready-to-use format,” says brand development manager, Jessica Lalor.

The sauces help reduce waste from splitting and curdling, which can happen when creating from scratch, and can be used as a base for other sauces, she concludes.

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