How fine food retailers are celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2023

09 February 2023, 08:22 AM
  • More consumers are choosing to dine-in this Valentine’s Day, providing fine food retail with a key opportunity
How fine food retailers are celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2023

Intelligence platform Vypr asked a nationally representative sample of its 65,000-strong community about their plans for the worldwide celebration. 63% said they’d be celebrating versus 29% who said they weren’t, with just under 17% still to decide.

Of the 63% celebrating, over 60% said they’ll stay in for Valentine’s this year, choosing meals from retailers over a romantic night out. 

This means that fine food retailers have a key opportunity to cash in on shoppers looking for high-quality dine-in meals and deals.

Celebrating the holiday of love
With the majority of consumers choosing to spend a profitable holiday for fine food and drink at home, it is important that indies demonstrate the very best they have to offer. 

As Ted Newton, farm shop manager at Farmer Copley’s, explained, “It’s the perfect time for offering our meal deals at the butchery counter with a variety of steak options with a side, bottle of wine and dessert, so we’ll be driving those through the counter itself as well as click and collect options on our website

“It’s an alternative to going out to a restaurant, but still having that special memorable meal with your partner, although one of you will have to do the dishes. We’ll be making special Valentine’s flavours of gelato too for a cracking dessert.

For Simon Jones, owner of Forest Deli, it’s all about in-house. “This year for Valentine’s we will again be offering a cook-at-home meal for two which was very successful last year when I think we were still under some restrictions. With the actual day being mid-week people are less likely to eat out, and our offer is a fixed price with no hidden extras which we know people are really looking for at the moment.

“My wife Debbie makes a 3-course meal that just needs a bit of heating in the oven. This year has heart-shaped vol-au-vents, a cannelloni main course and a sticky toffee pudding.

“We also have heart-shaped cheeses from our local producer Brookes Dairy who make the award-winning Angiddy brie along with a few others such as Neufchatel.”

Anna Barton, owner of Canalside Farm, Shop & Café, agreed, as he told Speciality Food, “We have a ‘Dine in for Two Meal Deal Offer’ running for Valentine’s Day which includes mains, sides and desserts for two plus a bottle of locally produced wine from Halfpenny Green Vineyard for £24.

“Our in-house bakery is also making giant heart-shaped brownies and cookies which have proved to be our best sellers so far. As well as our homemade sharing beef wellington made by our butchery team, using locally reared and ethically sourced beef.”

Farmer Copley’s is also hosting a themed night to boost sales, as Ted explained, “We’re also holding an event for those who aren’t subscribed to the lovey-dovey side of Valentines, with our Ski Lovers Après Ski Party. It’s a night out with meal and entertainment in our café for a full-blown party like we’re on the slopes, substituting the red roses for skis and the romantic music for a bit of Europop!”

Top-selling food
While Valentine’s is generally perceived as a gimmicky holiday, there are ways to show the love in classy ways. 

As Ted explained, “There are lots of products that you wouldn’t think would be relevant for Valentine’s Day that do a brilliant job at promoting during this time, such as Tracklements who have a fantastic Chilli Jam love heart jar which seems to be popular and we make our own bespoke Valentine’s hampers that people can grab and go, although our ‘you fill, we wrap’ hamper option is also popular this time of year for an extra special gift.

“We expect the usual suspects to be popular; steak, wine, prosecco, chocolates, greetings cards as well as our hampers. If like me you forget about Valentine’s until one or two days before (or even the day of), farm shops are a haven for a quality gift that can offer a lifeline that is both high in quality and better than flowers from the petrol station!”

According to Anna, it’s the unique charm of homemade products that do best at Valentine’s. “We find that anything we make ourselves, that is unique and can’t be found in a supermarket always sells well. 

“And if we can’t make it ourselves, anything locally produced is also popular. In particular this year, it seems to be our bottles of locally grown and produced fizz from The Grove Estate Vineyard in Eccleshall or The Halfpenny Green Vineyard in Bobbington, as well as SixTowns Distillery’s gin, rum and vodka, made in Stoke on Trent”, he told Speciality Food.

Boosting sales for Valentine’s
Getting into the spirit of love may be easy, but fine food and drink retailers will need to work to boost sales over the romantic season. 

For Ted, “I think just getting on board with the season will always help. Using red and pink on your branding and making it easy for customers to get what they want and try and incorporate it into any products that you make yourself such as gelato, cakes, or even love heart-shaped burgers at the butchers. 

“We use our seasonal entrance as the focal point for all things Valentine’s and then they can find offers around the shop too. Working with other businesses and cross-promoting on social media is always useful and we like to get creative and quirky with our videos to bring some attention to what we’re up to as well. 

“It’s also worth keeping an eye on Valentine’s/Galentine’s Day on the 13th and Singles Awareness Day on the 15th, so to not exclude any of your market.

As Simon concluded, “The key to grabbing customers’ attention is to ensure the offering is special, so that even though you will be staying in, it is still a lovely meal and a treat.”

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