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This festive season, fine food retailers are using hampers to cater to everyone and help those on budgets offer some indulgence for their loved ones.
But how important are hampers to the Christmas trade, and is there an art to creating them?
The hamper opportunity
Hampers are big business, especially during the festive season when consumers want to indulge and treat their loved ones to something truly special.
For Mark Gallagher, CEO of DukesHill Ham Ltd, “Hampers are very important to our offering at DukesHill – it’s the perfect opportunity for our customers to experience a wide range of our artisanal products.
“Almost a quarter of our Christmas orders are hampers and gift boxes, which is a key occasion for us, particularly at Christmas. It’s something we take enormous pleasure in discovering artisanal suppliers and delicious products to include in our hamper range.
“During the festive period our hamper range doubles in size. Gifting is a key occasion at this time and what better gift than the gift of artisan fine food? We see demand increase from both consumers and corporates looking to share the joy of fine food with friends, family, colleagues and employees.”
These sentiments were mirrored by Adam Barber, buying manager at Fenwick, who added, “Our hampers are incredibly important to us as they provide the opportunity to showcase the very best of food and drink from across Fenwick’s brands.
“They allow our customers to try new things and introduce them to new brands they may not have tried before. From accompaniments to your coffee break to a midnight snack, our selection of hampers aims to suit everyone’s individual tastes.
“Food and drink hampers have always been a staple at Fenwick, we love crafting the perfect combination of flavours and products to create something spectacular. For Christmas, we make sure we’re choosing products that complement each other and bring together the best flavours of the festive season that we all know and love.”
The art of creating hampers
While hampers may seem like a simple way to generate more sales over the festive season, there is certainly an art to putting one together.
As Mark Gallagher explained, “First and foremost it’s about the quality of each individual product. Ensuring there are no compromises on the selection. We’ve been working with many of our artisan producers for many years who share our commitment to quality.
“Unlike many other hamper companies, we include fresh items in our hampers such as smoked salmon, handmade pork pies, and artisan cheeses. Whilst this causes us a lot more logistical planning, we believe it enhances the quality and experience for our customers.
“Then it’s about the balance of sweet and savoury items to give choice and variety to indulge. Whilst we do offer sweet or savoury only hampers, we believe the best DukesHill hamper experience is enjoying a wonderful array of fresh savoury items such as cheeses, chutneys, smoked fish and our finest traditionally cured ham, then finished off with delicious sweet treats such as our buttery shortbread or handmade chocolates.”
For Mark Kacary, managing director at Norfolk Deli, “The ideal hamper is a combination of indulgence and function. Whatever the function is, be it something to celebrate or an event of some type, there needs to be a sense of indulgence. It’s so much more exciting to open a hamper to discover something new and exciting inside it and not a range of products which look as if they have been randomly picked in what might feel like a supermarket dash.
“The reason why people buy a Norfolk Deli hamper is that they are buying hampers that are a reflection of the county of Norfolk. They are supporting small Norfolk artisan producers and they are not buying hampers filled with cheap mass-produced generic products.”
Adam added, “Ideally you want a little bit of everything in a good hamper. We choose products that have a combination of both classic flavours that we all know and love, as well as exciting new products that you might have never thought to choose.
“We select indulgent products, so customers can treat themselves or their loved ones at Christmas, but also include products that they can weave into their every day and become new favourites.”
The future of food hampers
Wherever there are special occasions, there will be gift-giving, and retailers can be confident that hampers will continue to be popular to make loved ones’ days.
As Mark Kacary explained, “Everyone likes to eat, and most people like to drink, but they do not always feel that they can justify this type of expenditure on themselves. A food and drink hamper, especially if it celebrates the produce of a region are excellent corporate gifts for any business wanting to show off the skills and talents of local artisans.
“I would like to think that more and more people will adopt an approach of supporting local businesses which champion foods made by small producers and not products so much the products which have little value other than being a hamper filler.”
Mark Gallagher added, “We know it can be hard selecting the perfect gift for a loved one, a colleague or a client and we hear timeless feedback that the gift of exceptional artisan food brings such joy to the recipient. The whole experience from unwrapping to discovering each delicious item is what makes gifting a hamper so special.”
But as the way we look at and consume food evolves, the future of hampers may adapt to meet changing consumer demand.
According to Adam, “Hampers are a long-standing favourite amongst our customers and we see this continuing into the future. As food trends emerge, we’ll keep evolving our hampers to ensure we’re giving the consumer exactly what they’re looking for year after year.
“This season, we’re offering the Vegan Pick Me Up hamper and will continue to create new hampers to suit different tastes and dietary requirements making sure there’s something for everyone.”
But while trends come and go, traditional fayre will always be popular, as Mark Gallagher concluded, “It’s important to stay up to date with current trends and ensure our hamper offer meets customer needs.
“However, we’ve also been helping customers make Christmas special for nearly forty years and we’ve found many of our traditional hampers are tried and tested favourites with our customers and are always requested year after year.”
Christmas content supported by Woolcool - the pioneers of sustainable temperature-controlled packaging.