While the growth of UK regional foods is focused on traceability and sustainability, overseas specialities are still dependent on the wow factor, with the country of origin acting as the main USP.
The affluence of the UK consumer, meanwhile, is a magnet for enterprising foreign distributors.
Importers becoming noted include Jordan, the country of origin for Terra Rossa extra virgin olive oil, made from half-green, hand-picked olives; and Australia as a source of speciality cookies, sweets and cakes, which are proving popular in the UK, according to distributors such as Byron Bay Cookie Company and Porter Foods.
Another country with an increasing influence is Spain. Although the UK speciality food market was once
monopolised by Italian foods, Spanish producers are now making concerted efforts to win over customers.
“There is a real Spanish movement at the moment,” says Christian Pomper, international affairs manager at Del Árbol, a supplier of hams from the Jabugo region of Spain, which hopes to break into the UK this year. “The Brits’ tastes are coming round, mainly because cheaper travel is allowing them to holiday abroad a lot.”
Olga Salazar, spokeswoman for the Junta De Extremadura, which represents 13 producers from the south west region of Spain, says: “Spanish food is becoming more fashionable as the UK consumer looks for different products.”
Selfridges fresh food buyer Andrew Cavanna says: “On the deli, we’re seeing strong influences coming out of Spain. Spanish cheeses, charcuterie and Iberico ham are all giving Italian products a real run for their money.”
Similarly, Waitrose has focused on Spanish products this year, including the launch of a range of tapas sold in terracotta pots. “Buyers have focused on authenticity and this has generated positive sales. Our customers’ expectations are exacting.”
Caribbean products are also on the up, says Simon Fry, head of product marketing at distributor RH Amar.
It sells the Caribbean Walkerswood brand of spicy sauces and seasonings, for which sales are growing steadily at the multiples.
Specialities from the Americas are also finding favour with the UK palate. El Rey, a Venezuelan chocolate producer, which already supplies UK foodservice, is launching its non-blended, single variety of bean chocolate into UK retail this year through a listing with Whole Foods Market-owned Fresh & Wild.