18 February 2021, 08:30 AM
  • 2021 is the year of the nonna, and the return of family favourite recipes offers independents an opportunity to showcase what the fine food sector has to offer
What to stock for the comfort food trend

While 2020 saw a boom in consumer appetite for internationally-inspired and innovative food and drink – a distraction from the repetitive day-to-day rhythm of lockdown, perhaps – we also witnessed the return of comfort food, as shoppers sought respite from a stressful period by sinking a spoon into childhood favourites.

With the impact of Covid-19 on the horizon for the foreseeable future, this hunger for the familiar may prove a boon for independent retailers. Consider 2021 the year of the nonna – a time to reflect on and celebrate family favourite recipes which have been passed down the generations, but which due to their lack of innovative bells and whistles may have slipped down the list in terms of promotion and position on-shelf.

You most likely already stock a number of Italian classics such as fine pasta, polenta, passata, and Tipo 00 flour – perfect for making pasta and pizza – so why not consider bringing them to the fore as this new year begins?

Such tried and tested favourites are classics for a reason; as well as providing food lovers with a delicious taste of the familiar, they offer a blank canvas for home chefs to explore their culinary imaginations. Once the home cook has moved from Strong White to Tipo 00 for their pizza dough, and mastered the perfect Margherita having sourced great quality tomatoes for the sauce and Mozzarella for the finishing touch, they have a solid base for experimentation.

Trending nduja could soon be a staple in their arsenal, as could shining silver anchovies and artisanal olives. Equally, a simple bowl of steaming, creamy polenta – packed with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano – and topped with locally sourced and slow-cooked beef could lead to experimentation with polenta chips, moreishly textured citrus cakes and polenta pie crusts.

The key is in providing customers with a stable foundation on which to explore the world of fine food, just like the iconic Italian nonna would do. As independent fine food retailers, run by proud lovers of food themselves, Speciality Food retailers are perfectly positioned to offer this jumping off point for beginner and established foodies alike.

Are you passionate about Italian food and drink? If so we would love to hear from you – get in touch via holly.shackleton@aceville.co.uk.