Ugly fruits coming to a Swedish store near you...

So, the news that attracted my attention today was from Sweden. I think it would not be doing Sweden a disservice to say that it very rarely makes the news. It's not bankrupt, it's not got asylum seekers jumping aboard moving trucks, it's not involved in the Ashes, it just seems to get on with things. Probably in Sweden a Volvo breaking down is front-page stuff.

In fact, I am actually writing, while desperately trying to think of a news story that I remember reading that originated in Sweden and did not involve Sven Goran Erikkson and/or Ulrika Jonsson. And I can't. Anyway, we digress. Where were we, oh yes. News. Sweden. Ugly fruits...

So a supermarket in Sweden, Coop, has committed to selling 'ugly fruit and vegetables'. Now, as all good cryptic crossword lovers will know, there is an 'ugli fruit'. but know, it is not a typo and a story about the exotic fruit aisle, it is a commitment to start selling 'contorted carrots and twisted turnips'. 

According to the story, between 15 and 30% of all fruit and vegetables is wasted before it even reaches the shelves, basically because it is rejected as the supermarkets think that we, the consumer, will not want the weird-looking potato or the abnormally-large aubergine. So the Coop has launched the It's the Inside That Counts campaign, in which said freaky fruits will be packaged and labelled up and sold at a slight discount as opposed to their more aesthetically pleasing soil-mates.

Now, anything that reduces food waste has got to be a good thing, and I for one think this is a great idea. I just just see myself down the supermarket with the children. 'Go and get a big of carrots"... "no, the strange ones, the weirder the better'. After all, they'll taste the same.

So a huge pat on the back for Coop from me for this venture, it will be interesting to see how it pans out and whether the Swedish public take to it.

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING 

Not too many meeting up at MeatUp

MAYBE it was the weather. It was, after all, the hottest day of the year so far.... although today is supposed to be hotter. But MeatUp seemed a little on the quiet side yesterday. Mind you, when one of the seminar topics is 'has meat consumption peaked and if so what can we do about it?' then maybe the industry is suffering from a little malaise.

In fairness, the speaker, Professor David Hughes from Imperial College London, was excellent. And his answer was no, it has not peaked, the meat industry just needs to work a little harder to maintain its share. Whereas in the 1960s meat was a staple part of the diet most days a week, it is now fighting Italian, Indian, Thai and the likes. Certainly in the supermarkets when people look for convenience food, meat producers maybe need to work harder to offer something different, tasty and convenient. Today's consumer doesn't want to just grab a packet of fresh chicken and have to do the rest at home, they want it done for them. They want a meal that they can just put in the oven.  

His statistics seemed to show that market research reveals people very much want to be still eating plenty of meat, it's just other things are, well... easier. 

So what does the meat industry do about it? Well get creative I would say. Some of our packaging solutions allow for that. We can offer, for example, BBQ/Oven bags with wood chips sachets that smoke the meat while it cooks. We can offer ovenable dividers allowing for compartmented ready meals. We can offer multi-compartment steam-cooking bags, and regular over-the-counter steam-cooking bags for oven or microwave in which meat and sauce/glaze can be sold in a ready-to-cook format.

Elsewhere in the seminars we learnt from Steve Osborn, consultant at Aurora Ceres, that only 3 in every 14 'food development projects' actually make the supermarket shelves. And one of those three then falls by the wayside for whatever reason. Figures like that might make you think developing new products is tough, and costly. But Steve's point was that the ones that don't make the shelf may have failed because the planning and work was not done correctly. Do everything correctly and the success rate is much higher.

Packaging might, for many product developers, be the last thing they look it, but perhaps it should be the first. After all, if you can't package and sell the food you have no product. Perhaps the starting point should be 'okay, a cooking bag for the oven or BBQ which smokes the food and infuses it with hickory, that's a great idea. What should we put in it...'

Or the approach discussed last week by our distributors in the US who are offering a supply of flavoured butters and marinades to support seafood counters using steam-cooking bags, offering them a simple way to up-sell and add value. That same approach could work perfectly for chicken. After a long day at work I don't want to stop at the shops and buy a chicken breast and loads of ingredients and have to get cooking; but if offered a chicken breast with a tasty Thai red curry butter in an ovenable or microwaveable bag, freshly prepared, along with a bag of fresh vegetables which are also ready to cook..... well now you're talking. Fresh, tasty, convenient and different.... that's all I want.

MARK LINGARD, MARKETING

  • Oven/BBQ cooking bags - Sira-Cook Supreme

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  • Absorbent meat pads - Dri-Fresh

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  • Absorbent pads for fresh fruit - Dri-Fresh Fresh-Hold

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  • Oven/microwave steam-cooking bags - Sira-Cook Self-Seal

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  • Dividers for better food presentation - Sira-Form non-ovenable boards

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  • Absorbent pads for wet-cheeses - Dri-Fresh Fresh-Hold

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  • Deli-bags for keeping food fresh - Sira-Flex Deli-Bags

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  • Multi-compartment microwave steam-cooking bags - Sira-Cook Smart-Release

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  • Nylon oven-roasting bags and films - Sira-Cook Siralon

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  • Absorbent fish/seafood crate liners - Dri-Fresh Sea-Fresh SP

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  • Absorbent oven-grill liners - Dri-Fresh Fat-Traps

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  • Thinking-Cooking - Sirane's own retail range

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  • Read our full food packaging catalogue online

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