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While classic flavours continue to dominate the chutney and pickle sector, consumers are looking for new ways to use their fruity accompaniments, as well as experimenting with modern flavour combinations.
We explore how to cater to demand this Christmas and reveal tips for upselling chutneys for uses outside the traditional cheeseboard offering.
While chutneys and pickles are most commonly associated with the Christmas cheeseboard, these versatile accompaniments have a myriad of uses outside this traditional pairing. As Jeff Higgins, owner of The Wooden Spoon Preserving Co, explains, “Recent trends have seen consumers looking for innovative new Chutney flavours, locally produced with more culinary uses rather than just being chained to the Christmas cheeseboard. We are passionate about our pickles and chutneys and try to incorporate them into our own cooking as much as possible.
“For instance, our Ruby’s Lime Pickle, used as a marinade for a slow-cooked joint of Kentish Lamb, helps cut through the slightly fatty nature of the lamb. Our Eve’s Temptation Fig and Apple Chutney works wonders slathered all over a nice joint of gammon then roasted to perfection, giving a tangy, eastern twist to a Christmas essential.”
A key way of helping customers to think outside the box this Christmas is to give them inspiration and use the marketing tools that fine food producers can provide. Sarah Williams, marketing director at Cottage Delight, tells Speciality Food, “Inspiring consumers with serving suggestions and recipe ideas is something we always strive to achieve with the production of recipe cards and booklets, especially for products such as chutneys and pickles that are synonymous with key events.
“Retailers should utilise branded recipe cards to not only upsell particular products but also inspire consumers looking for alternative uses for their favourite products throughout the festive period and beyond.”
According to Sarah, alongside looking for new uses, “Consumers are becoming more and more mindful of waste and making the most of leftovers, something that we are also passionate about at Cottage Delight. Highlighting additional uses through recipe inspiration is a great way to reassure consumers who are worried about unnecessary waste. For Christmas 2022, we have created a Boxing Day Pickle Pie which not only uses up those leftover Christmas Day lunch ingredients but also includes our Perfect Party Pickle.”
Finding alternative uses to avoid food waste is something Maria Whitehead, director at Hawkshead Relish, is also passionate about, as she explains, “What I would recommend is simple recipes of how else to use these products other than for the cheeseboard, often they are given as great gifts but not every recipient is aware you can use these to add into sauces, so the fig and cinnamon added with a bit of honey and used to glaze the ham for Christmas would be fabulous, but equally you could add a teaspoon to a little oil and vinegar and create a lovely seasonal salad dressing.
“Foodie customers will appreciate these tips and ideas and this was the reason for creating our Embellish with Relish cookbook which uses several of our products to showcase recipes that can be used to create everyday and special event dishes instead of these jars languishing in the fridge until their sell by date has passed.”
Chutneys and pickles are perfectly tailored to Christmas gifting as they have a long shelf life, come neatly pre-packaged for convenience and perhaps most importantly, they are usually suitable for all dietary requirements. As Becky Vale, marketing director at Tracklements, explains, “Another trend we’ve witnessed emerge in recent years is the need for food gifts and storecupboard staples which neatly fit into every kind of diet. From meat-lover to vegan and everything in-between, there’s a Tracklement to suit.”
Because they make the ideal Christmas present for any foodie, it is important that independent retailers stock a wide variety of flavours and gifting packs. According to Sarah, “Shoppers naturally have a higher basket spend throughout the festive season, it’s the largest gifting occasion of the year and consumers will be looking to treat themselves and their loved ones in the weeks and months leading up to Christmas Day.
“Retailers could look to host Christmas shopping evenings including tasting events, and at Cottage Delight we have a tasting kit that can be provided to our customers so that they have everything they need to host an interactive tasting session.”
Where you display your products for Christmas upselling is also important, as Sarah adds, “Another fantastic way to ensure shoppers are picking up and purchasing products is to display them at key spaces throughout the store, especially on entry points, within food halls and as part of gifting displays. Placing chutneys and pickles near food counters is a fantastic way of ensuring upsell.
According to Becky, this is where a fine food retailers’ expertise in merchandising and the gentle art of persuasive upselling comes into its own. “Specialist retailers know their shoppers and their shopper missions, they know best which area of their store is browsed, and which area is shopped for staples, where the display of gift packs will work best and where the grab and go impulse section is so it’s a matter of matching the product to the area” she explains.
This festive season, focus on flavour and help your customers to think outside the box for successful selling. After all, Christmas food is nothing without perfectly paired accompaniments!