sue mcvie quote web

’Fortune favours the brave’ and ‘you have to speculate to accumulate’ are just two of the idioms that have passed into popular business parlance over the years - but how true is this for our own industry?

When the great and good from the UK grocery industry stood up to address the audience at IGD’s The Big Debate last month, it was certainly refreshing to hear the leaders of our major retailers hint at a brave new world in 2016.

Much was made of the need to drive value back into the big four’s offerings, with a general agreement that far too much time had been spent on an ultimately unproductive price war that had failed to excite shoppers.

Industry heavyweight and Unilever president Jan Zijderveld pulled few punches when he accused delegates - on both the retail and supply sides - of “destroying value” in UK grocery by pursuing the wrong goals. A higher share of consumers’ overall spend, he argued, would only be secured if the industry could excite and delight shoppers in 2016. Real value, he added, was about creating products and brands that stood for something, whether it be an outstanding innovation or a groundbreaking sustainability message.

Value, in other words, is certainly not just about price - far from it, in fact.

This is something we at Kerry Foods see all the time. Innovation is central to our business, and we have brought this message to life over many years with numerous branded and own-label launches - our adult meat snack brand Savagers and Yollies, the world’s first yoghurt on a stick, are just a couple of recent examples.

Our current focus is on adding value to cooked meats - a category that has arguably been lacking in brave innovation. That’s a big missed opportunity: according to IGD, one in three shoppers is actively looking for new things to try, while three out of four are keen to try new products if they are made available.

We believe cooked meats is prime territory for strong branded innovation to add value, and we are hoping to do precisely that with the UK arrival of Fire & Smoke - an already successful range of cooked meats from our Irish business, inspired by an age-old cooking technique in the American deep south.

Fire & Smoke has got off to a promising start, winning awards in Ireland and recognition at last month’s Anuga trade show. It also scored 45 out of 50 in The Grocer’s Acid Test consumer barometer - which suggests it will continue to be well received by shoppers who are keen to trade up to something that is totally unique within the cooked meats fixture.

Several key customers have spotted the value of such a range and we look forward to continuing our discussions with other retailers, inviting them to share in what we believe will be one of the biggest success stories in chilled in 2016.

We are confident Fire & Smoke is just the kind of product to persuade retailers to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to innovation in 2016. After all, as Mr Zijderveld would no doubt agree, if we’re not constantly looking to add value to shoppers’ lives, then what are we doing?

Sue McVie is strategic marketing director at Kerry Foods