FTSE-listed meat specialist Cranswick has launched a new charcuterie brand as it looks to take a big bite out of the UK snacking market.
Bodega has been stocked by Sainsbury’s initially, as the Hull-headquartered food producer looks to emulate success seen with cured options Stateside.
Produced at the new facility in Bury, Greater Manchester, more than 300 stores are selling it, with ambitions to roll out across the major retailers.
Mary Pennell, marketing controller for Cranswick Continental Foods, told how it can go up against the traditional sandwich for lunch, but is equally at home on a hike or a cosy night on the sofa with a glass of wine.
She said: “There’s nothing like it on the shelf, and finger’s crossed it is going to go well.
Cranswick is predominantly an own-label supplier, not a big player in the area of brands, but we did see an opportunity, taking inspiration from the States, taking charcuterie into the snacking arena.
“If we look at the snacking category, whether that is chilled or the wider supermarket, snacking tends to be a branded offer. It is a real branded arena.”
Bodega, the name given to a small grocery shop in a US Spanish-speaking neighbourhood, was previously used for an olive line, but has been revived for the range, which features smoky salami, prosciutto and chorizo.
The company’s Continental arm opened the new facility in the North West two years ago, and the team there is working with producers on the continent, with Spanish, German and Italian suppliers involved. A mellow cheddar cheese accompanies, with crisp toasts too.
Mary said it ranks highly against a sandwich when it comes to calorie consumption – not that lunch was the be all and end all.
“The product itself lends itself to lots of different eating occasions,” she said. “We’re no longer a three straight meals market. Anyone under 35 tends to snack throughout the day, food for them is more about fuel, little and often. That’s where Bodega has its strength.”
Adaptability has proved to be a key trait too in the development.
“If we were all six months back, then the profile for launch would be something different. It would be a direct sandwich alternative, we’d be front of shop promoting, and it is a very visual product.
“Charcuterie can be a treat purchase too.”
First to market with Sainsbury’s, it is not exclusive, with further listings being worked on.
“It is early days, we are two weeks in, but we are growing and the rate of sales is increasing every day,” Mary said. “We are pleased with where we have got to so far, we have some promotional activity coming in a few weeks. We need consumers to discover it and try it, as looking at the numbers we are getting people coming back and repeat buying. It is all about getting that initial trial.”
It comes as back along the M62 in Hull, Cranswick celebrates 25 years of gourmet sausage production, with the firm playing a role in rescuing the British favourite’s reputation.
Back in 1995 the ‘banger’ had earned a nickname due to often being filled with lower quality cuts of pork, leading to fatty pan explosions.
A joint venture with London chef and his six-strong London chain of specialist sausage shops, Simply Sausages, was launched.
Again with Sainsbury’s, Cranswick Gourmet Sausage Co, took the quality level to the British public.
The range drew on international cuisine with exciting flavours such as Toulouse, Spanish
Italian and Cajun Style and British classics, such as Cumberland and Lincolnshire.
Described as “unlike anything that was on the supermarket shelves at the time,” Sainsbury’s Sausages of Distinction “launched with great success” on the meat counters, expanding into a pre-packed range. It has since been re-branded as Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, but as Cranswick’s commercial director Jim Brisby is keen to point out, the products are as still as great as ever.
“We are a nation of sausage lovers and the growth in this sector has been phenomenal over the past 25 years,” he said. “In the UK, approximately seven million sausages are eaten at home in the UK every day and over half of these are classed as gourmet or super premium sausages.
“We still use the same methods of sausage production that Martin taught us 25 years ago.”
The Cranswick business has enjoyed exceptional growth over the past 25 years and now produces more than 6,500 tonnes of sausages every week rising to 800 tonnes a week during the busy Christmas period. The site, on Sutton Fields, employs more than 700 people, rising to more than 1,000 during peak seasons, making it one Hull’s largest employers.
It is a major contributor to the group’s £1.76 billion turnover, with a sales increase of virtually 25 per cent through lockdown.