Gourmet Spanish ham producers are hoping to fire up a passion for their product in the UK.

Producers of Iberico ham are hoping UK retailers and distributors will act as ambassadors for their premium product, said Miguel Ullibarri MD of promotional consortium Real Iberico.

The ham is produced from Iberian pigs under strict quality-controlled standards which cover everything from breeding to feeding and curing.

Although Ullibarri said the group would be reducing promotional activity in the UK this year due to internal budgetary problems, it would still be working to raise the ham’s profile. As well as a direct
marketing campaign aimed at retailers, distributors and food writers, he said it would also undertake courses with the Guild of Fine Food Retailers to provide training on how to handle and cut the product.

“We want to try and inspire a passion for the product in the UK. We need people to act as our ambassadors, from the media down to the guys behind the meat counters.”

However, Ullibarri also called on the industry to work together more closely, and said they were looking to avoid problems with overpricing in foreign markets. “We have had some problems in some areas with people putting higher margins on the product. They are making quick money out of it but at the same time it puts people off.

“We’re trying to explain that we all need to work together and that there’s a fine line between being premium and being exorbitant.”

He said the group was interested in working with some of the multiples, but was keen to maintain the quality over volume nature of the production. “We have a limited production and do not intend to quickly generate big sales.

“We have to be careful to keep demand in line with supply,” he added.
Ed Bedington