The age of the metrosexual is over. In 2012, it will be out with the guyliner and in with that most manly of pursuits – roasting hunks of meat over an open fire. If you need proof of the emergence of this trend look no further than the success of a range of sauces with perhaps the most blokeish name ever: Man Meat Fire.
Since its October 2009 launch, the fivestrong range, which comes in flavours as diverse as Wasabi Teriyaki and Chimichurri, has been busily snapping up listings – just last month adding Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang’s Barbecoa butchery to its line-up of customers.
So far, distribution has been limited to the south of England, with the range listed in a host of indies as well as Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. But Jane Gordon, the one-woman band behind the brand, is now eyeing other regions and retailers. She is also hopeful that its sales will double next year from their current rather modest £30,000 – and that she won’t need to secure supermarket listings to grow the brand further still.
Some might question the wisdom of selling 250ml bottles of sauce for up to £6.25 a pop in one of the deepest downturns in history. But Gordon argues that if anything, the demand for premium, unusual foods has intensified because more people are now eating in rather than out.
“The people we target are still spending,” she says, adding: “There aren’t a lot of sauces out there aimed at male cooks.”
And what better way to appeal to men than with barbecue flavours. Gordon came up with the idea after setting up as a barbecue caterer with husband Hugh in early 2009. Punters began asking where they could buy their sauces so the company started producing and bottling them. Demand grew so rapidly that the catering side of the business was ditched so Gordon could focus on manufacturing.
“It was something we were both passionate about,” she explains. “I’d done a lot of homework and there wasn’t very much competition. We knew it was a good business idea and we just went for it.”
She was also prepared to show some “dogged determination”, as she puts it, when it came to approaching retailers for listings. “I kept at it – retailers probably listed it just to shut me up. People who say they can’t get into places just haven’t tried very hard.”
One place Gordon isn’t interested in getting into is the multiples. She’d rather stick to independent channels where she can maintain her margins and the brand’s premium cachet. Further growth will come through NPD and exploring new avenues, she adds. “I’d like to launch into singleserve next year and investigate meat and fish with our sauces. There is also the possibility of a recipe book.”
Next year could mark another landmark for Man Meat Fire. “I have kept my head down,” says Gordon. “We are now very close to turning a profit.”
Which must mean that more men are turning to Man Meat Fire.