Balancing innovation and tradition with Christmas chutneys

15 September 2022, 07:05 AM
  • While classic flavours continue to dominate the sector, consumers are experimenting with modern flavour combinations
Balancing innovation and tradition with Christmas chutneys

The humble chutney is possibly one of the festive season’s most underrated players. It’s ambient, makes for a fantastic gifting item, typically comes in robust glass jar packaging and there is a multitude of quality companies developing great products.

It has the power to elevate a perfectly curated cheeseboard, liven up cold meats and form the basis of a festive sausage roll, and what’s more, the products tend to cater for vegans, vegetarians, coeliacs and many other dietary requirements, making it a product fit for all purposes.

But how do you make sure you’re stocking the right products for 2022’s shoppers?

The traditional route
When it comes to consumer demand, classic flavours will always top the charts, according to Becky Vale, marketing director at Tracklements.

“Christmas and chutneys are a marriage made in heaven”, she explains. “This is a category which always delivers for retailers at Christmas irrespective of whatever else is going on. After all, Christmas is a time for indulgence and for finding those affordable treats which make it the most special and compelling season.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that traditional flavours fare well during the festive season. Christmas is the time when people upgrade from standard products to top-end offerings. Particularly when the cost of living is in the news as much as it is currently, people tend to veer towards familiar flavours and old favourites which represent less risk”, she added.

This is something Maria Whitehead, director at Hawkshead Relish has also noticed. She tells Speciality Food, “With all the news being so gloomy, people are looking for something that either takes them to comfort food, reminding them of old-fashioned flavours such as beetroot or rhubarb and then there are the others who are looking for some decadence in a world of austerity and to have something that adds uniqueness and taste to add an extra dimension and layer of flavour.”

According to Sarah Williams, marketing director at Cottage Delight, shoppers will be looking for something extra indulgent to celebrate with during a time of economic crisis. She explains, “Shoppers tend to trade up to more premium products during the festive season and will be looking to create the festive wow-factor with show-stopping additions to their festive tables and buffets.”

“This Christmas, we are launching our first-ever Sparkling Christmas range which includes a range of gold-wrapped products with decorative mop-tops and festive names such as Perfect Party Pickle and Festive Fig & Port Chutney. These classic Christmas flavours accompanied by seasonal names will be sure to capture consumer attention and can easily be used to create eye-catching displays in-store”, she adds.

Standing out from the crowd
However, consumers are still looking for excitement this Christmas, so ensuring your offering provides something different could be the key to festive success.

Becky explains, “The past couple of years has seen a shift in consumer demand towards brands which are not only top quality, value for money and offer interesting flavours, but also towards brands which meet the demand for ethical and sustainable criteria.

“Every business needs to put sustainability on the agenda, as shoppers have demonstrated that they want products that tick boxes for product quality, and environmental responsibility and which also support British farmers and growers.

“Another trend in the chutney and pickle category which Tracklements has been taking advantage of this year is the growing appetite for world flavours, which is why our latest special edition Date & Tamarind Chatni is proving so popular. It is made to satisfy the adventurous tastebuds of people who like to try new and alternative flavours but with the confidence of knowing they’re produced by a trusted and sustainable business.”

In addition to global flavours, shoppers are also looking for something to bring a bit of heat to their palette. As Sarah explains, “Savvy retailers will ensure that there is a wide variety of choice available to select from, especially during the festive period when the consumption of chutneys and pickles is at its highest.

“As well as classic flavours such as Caramelised Onion Chutney, the trend for spicy flavours continues to rise, therefore introducing fresh twists on old classics such as our Spiced Tomato and Caramelised Onion Chutney or an Indian Hot Chilli Pickle will ensure there is a product on offer that taps into 2022 trends.”

As Jeff Higgins, owner of The Wooden Spoon Preserving Company, puts it, “Consumers are getting more adventurous in their tastes and they are not afraid to try something new. Sometimes a little guidance, product knowledge and enthusiasm are all that is needed. As a retailer, don’t be afraid to ask for a sample, crack it open and give it a taste.”

Christmas content supported by Woolcool – the pioneers of sustainable temperature-controlled packaging.

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