What are the most popular regional British foods?

17 August 2023, 07:00 AM
  • It’s well-known amongst fine food retailers that local sells, and a new report has identified the UK’s top five favourite regional food products
What are the most popular regional British foods?

Whether you prepare them fresh for your deli counter, catch customers’ eyes in your café, or simply sell ready-made products on shelf, tapping into consumers’ favourite British delicacies is a sure-fire way to boost sales as a fine food retailer.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Brits believe their hometown has the best regional cuisine in the UK, while 89% said they like to enjoy food from around the country, found a survey of 2,000 people by social network Playsee.

The top five regional delicacies according to the survey are:
1. Yorkshire pudding
2. Cheddar cheese
3. Scottish shortbread
4. Cornish pasty
5. Bakewell tart

Other regional favourites included Whitby’s Scotch egg, Melton Mowbray’s famous pork pie and Welsh rarebit.

Further down the list were less well-known favourites, such as Stottie bread from Newcastle, Banbury cake from Oxforshire, and Stargazy pie, which originated in Mousehole, Cornwall.

How important is regional cuisine for fine food retailers?

As a speciality food retailer, stocking local producers and food products can seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth considering how and why you stock these products to ensure your offering stands out.

“We are very much a business that ‘does what it says on the tin’ and sell a lot of produce that’s made in Norfolk,” Mark Kacary, managing director of Norfolk Deli, tells Speciality Food.

“However, I think it’s far too easy to compartmentalise things like this,” he adds. “For example, if we were in London would we try and specialise in products made in London? Maybe, but probably not, as we would seek to be more cosmopolitan to attract and reflect the type of people shopping there.”

It comes back to knowing your niche as a retailer in your local area. “Our niche is Norfolk produce. We see ourselves in many instances as the bridge between a farmer’s market and a supermarket for many small local producers,” Mark continues. 

“We also have to differentiate ourselves from the supermarkets in the small Victorian town we trade in, and the way to do that is to focus on small artisan producers. However, it is very easy to fall down the trap of becoming like every other deli/speciality food retailer by stocking all the things you find in speciality wholesaler catalogues.”

How do fine food retailers stand out from the crowd? “I think one of the key elements when stocking produce is to look at where you are and who your customers are, and for us this is relatively simple,” Mark says. “Because we are located in a seaside resort in one of the country’s tourist hotspots, we find that 80-plus % of our footfall comes from visitors to the town. 

“If you understand who your customers are, then it is easier to understand what they are looking for. There are three magic words we insist all our local suppliers have on their packaging and that is ‘Made in Norfolk’,” he explains.

“We are not in Cornwall, so not too surprisingly we get very little demand for pasties. Similarly, our ‘Made in Norfolk’ cookies would outsell Scottish shortbread five to one. We do not sell any alcoholic products that are not made in Norfolk, and that includes wines, beers, ciders, and spirits,” Mark says.

Because showcasing the best Norfolk produce is a key element of the Norfolk Deli’s business model, focusing in on hyper-local products is a must. Other retailers, however, might find better success with selling local favourites from a wider remit, or even specialising in importing European fare depending on their customer base.

Supporting local

The Playsee survey also found the vast majority of consumers agree that “independent restaurants and cafés contribute to the community in a positive way by making the area unique and elevating local offerings”.

Of those surveyed, 35 % admitted they could do more to support their local independent restaurants and shops, and one in 10 Brits said they wished they had supported a local pub or restaurant more before it shut down. 

“Local businesses bring a wealth of gems to neighbourhoods and communities, and supporting these businesses is key to enriching life where we live,” said Veronica Lin, head of user experiences at Playsee. “It’s great to see from the research that so many Brits see the value in supporting local businesses and are actively eating more locally since the pandemic and admit that we could all do our part to help them more.”

When it comes to eating out, Brits also tend to eat out at their favourite local restaurants on average four times per month, according to the survey.

Londoners topped the list of those eating out locally on average 5.2 times a month, with Stoke-on-Trent visiting independent, local restaurants the least, on average 2.8 times monthly. A fifth (20 %) of Brits eat out more locally now than they did pre-pandemic.

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