Ramona’s Kitchen managing director Ramona Hazan told Food Manufacture that the ongoing investigation has already created new orders for the firm, and believes wider opportunities are now likely to grow for independent and smaller companies.
“We have already found that there are some opportunities and we will definitely be able to fulfil those orders,” she said. “We don’t wish this on anyone, but it has created a hole in the houmous supply, and that needs to be fulfilled.”
Yesterday (4 November) it was confirmed that an additional 80 lines manufactured by Zorba Delicacies had been recalled with use-by date of 17 November. An unnamed “third party” ingredient supplier has been cited at the root of the problem.
This followed the recall of 56 lines last week from retailers including Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl, Spar, Safeway and John Lewis.
Fill the void
Hazan expressed sympathy for the firm, but said she thought that as smaller, bespoke firms use different suppliers, they would be able to fill the void going forward.
“We have a different product,” she added. “I hope for their sake, that Zorba can recover, because we all do our best and this stuff happens.
“If it breaks a business the size of Zorba, then we all need to be worried. We all manufacture in the cleanest environment possible and it could happen to anyone. But we have seen opportunities arise already and we will take advantage of them as best we can.
“They are a massive company and they produce in a different way to us. But it provides opportunities to showcase what we do.”
She added that she did not believe consumer confidence in the houmous market would be affected long-term.
Julian Wild, corporate finance director at Rollits, agreed that new opportunities could be on the horizon. “It [houmous] ticks a lot of boxes, it’s convenient, low-fat and healthy,” he said.
“I think it’s a popular product and It is a product that is fairly easy to make yourself, so this could see a trend of people making it fresh – whether that be through business or at home.”
The houmous market saw a similar issue in 2017 when there were shortages of the dip after Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer withdrew lines as a result of a production problem that impacted taste. Unlike the Zorba issue, however, there were no food safety concerns.
Despite this, experts are predicting Zorba will recover, thanks to long-standing relationships with retailers.
“Zorba have been around for a long time and have a good following,” Wild added. “It would be a pity if it had any lasting consequences. Often, these things end up being a short-term blip and then, soon, people forget.”