Fancy some Giant Bug Chilli Paste on your sandwich? How about a healthy serving of pork Brains in milk Gravy? Travel far enough (Thailand and, believe it or not, southern US states, respectively) and you’ll find no shortage of products proving you can put pretty much any food in a can and - as impossible as it sounds - identify a market for it.
UK consumers have tended to err on the side of conservatism when it comes to canned foods, but in recent years British shoppers have discovered a taste for more exotic foreign offerings. It’s not a patch on Buzzard Gizzards marinated in Cream Sauce, but Palacio de Oriente’s ‘octopus-style’ Squid Pieces in Olive Oil - intended to be used “hot or cold in any dish which uses octopus or squid” - now sits in Ocado’s canned goods section, priced £2.49 for 111g.
Then, of course, there are the many French products making their way on to UK shelves. Tins of cassoulet and saucisses de Toulouse aren’t anything special over the Channel - although in quality they’re a world away from Britain’s closest parallel, the all-day breakfast in a can. But here they trade hands at a premium. Ocado, for instance, began stocking Carrefour’s Reflets de France range in July 2011. Its cans of two confit duck legs sell at £9 - twice as much as in France (€5.75).
At the other end of the scale, there’s the much-hyped ‘Candwich’, gaining popularity in the US as a one-stop meal solution. It involves the constituent parts of the US sandwich staple Peanut butter & Jelly - with the crucial distinction that the hot dog-sized bun has been made from a military formulation that allows it to stay sweet, soft and fresh for over a year. Oddly, the Candwich has yet to bag a UK listing.
It may also be a while before Elk au Jus or Reindeer Paté gets listed in a UK supermarket. But don’t be surprised if Heinz follows up its premium Five Beanz offering with more of the same… posh ravioli or spaghetti anyone?
Canned goods: Steeled for battle
- Currently reading
Expect the unexpected in canned food content