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The Great British BBQ is a permanent fixture in British culture, with consumers heading to buy burgers and sausages as soon as the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
After two years of lockdowns and restrictions, Brits are keen to get social again and host summer BBQs, garden parties and gatherings. So, making sure your offering stands out this season is essential for success.
As we enter National BBQ Week, we explore how indies can set themselves apart from the multiples.
Cooking around the globe
Far-flung flavours are set to be popular again this summer as consumers continue to vicariously explore the globe through food. As Marc Smith, managing director at Smith & Ellis butchers explained, “Many are looking for different flavours and experiences – burgers and sausages are always going to be a mainstay, but new flavours of sausages, or something different (that makes their own BBQ meal stand out) is always a hit.
“For example, one of our biggest sellers last year was a steak kebab marinated in soy, ginger and garlic. It has to be something different ‘all the time’ to keep interest levels high and to differentiate ourselves from the multiples. The key to this issue is to find new flavour combinations, ease of cooking and good value for money.
“We have explored new types of items for the BBQ - for example stuffed chicken breasts or ‘Italian beef lollipops’ and have worked with ingredient manufacturers for emerging flavour trends and other butchers in different regions to produce new and interesting products.
“We have also started to explore other items to add to the purchase event such as exclusive ‘rubs’, bread rolls, BBQ fuel, and chilled alcoholic beverages that make us a ‘one-stop shop’ for our customers’ BBQ needs.”
Sustainable spice company Dutch Spices predicts that Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American spices will be a big hit at BBQs this summer. That could mean a Thai red curry marinade for a rack of ribs, a chimichurri sauce as a finisher, or using liberal amounts of the seasoning spice, za’atar, which is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking.
Also high on the agenda for summer 2022 is sustainability. According to Helena Bush, digital marketing assistant at Sous Chef, “Taking BBQing into the great outdoors is becoming more popular than ever, and with that comes the demand for sustainable options.
“The Casus Grill Disposable Eco BBQ was a new line we brought on last summer and sold out our first delivery in 2 weeks. A direct replacement for old fashioned metal tray BBQ with disposable and portable convenience, but biodegradable! The grill is made from fully compostable cardboard and bamboo, and uses bamboo charcoal as fuel with reduced CO2 emissions. We predict it to be equally as popular this year.
“Moreover, Japanese Binchotan charcoal is the sustainable fuel of choice to turn to in 2022, as it can be re-lit up to 3 times more than conventional BBQ charcoal.”
With sustainability comes an interest in non-meat options such as plant-based meats, grilling cheeses and vegetables. Meat-free diets are still trending, so stocking a wide range of alternatives to traditional burgers and sausages will ensure all bases are covered.
In fact, the EU’s Smart Protein project in 2020 found that 37% of UK consumers are eating less meat versus a year ago, and according to market intelligence agency Mintel, 50% of British people were eating meat substitutes in 2021, which demonstrates the rise of flexitarianism.
No longer are veggie BBQ guests stuck with a portobello mushroom in a burger bun. With more premium vegan meat alternatives on the market than ever before, there is plenty of opportunity to cash in on the meat-free BBQ trend.
When it comes to competing with the big four and standing out, Mark Kacary, managing director at Norfolk Deli, argues that independent retailers such as delicatessens are the ideal place to get everything you need for a BBQ, especially for busy consumers who value quality. Therefore, demonstrating that you provide something the supermarkets can’t is essential for success.
As he explained, “Where else can you buy Truffle BBQ sauce which is perfect for a marinade with a difference, or other BBQ style sauces, pickles, chutneys etc., everything you need to add flavour (apart from charcoal) to your BBQ.”
He also recommends making use of your in-house kitchens if you have one, to really upsell BBQ extras. “Delicatessens like ours also make fresh salads daily, far more flavoursome than wet lettuce and over-ripened tomatoes. If you’re going to have a BBQ and you want to do it with some style and flavour a visit to a deli or farm shop is vital. Supermarkets marinade meats for BBQs but nothing will beat the flavours of products made locally.”
As Marc concluded, “Always listen to what customers are saying long before the BBQ season - they always tell you what things they like (and can therefore be incorporated into our BBQ offering), always have something that is different to the mainstream supermarkets, and above all, offer sound advice and the best customer service possible, the multiples simply can’t do that.”