Rohit Samani, chairman of the business, which incorporates TRS Foods, East End Foods and Cofresh Snack Foods, and former chief executive of rice firm Tilda, said: “A key part of our journey is to bring more consumers into this with more convenient products.
“One of the things we are working on is a pulse and spice blend in a ready-to eat format, precooked. One of the great things we did at Tilda was develop great recipes in a two-minute cook format. At the base of it was Tilda basmati rice. That really exploded that category and made the Tilda brand extremely strong outside of the core ethnic market on the mainstream fixture.
“One of our focuses was to take our pulses and spices to a much broader mass market. We want everybody to eat our pulses and spices in a convenient format, which will be really tasty and healthy.”
Samani said Vibrant Foods wanted to involve third-party specialists in the process, particularly in the areas of packaging and new product development.
“This goes back to my Tilda days. We always believed in working with experts, whether it’s brand-building or product development. We’re always open to working with other people, especially people who can bring lots of different skills and knowledge to our brands and our business.”
He said plant-based options lay at the heart of Cofresh, East End Foods and TRS. “Everybody’s conscious of the environment, of animal welfare and the benefit of a largely plant-based diet and we’re seeing an increase in flexitarianism. People are eating these kinds of products more. Pulses are a great source of protein and how do you make pulses more interesting? Add spices to them.”
In the first part of this interview, Samani said production at its TRS Foods factory in Southall and its East End Foods factory in West Bromwich had increased by 50% since the coronavirus lockdown to manage a surge in retail demand.
The brands were brought under the umbrella of Vibrant Foods this year by Exponent Private Equity group, which bought East End Foods and TRS in November 2019. It announced the acquisition of Cofresh on 3 July this year.
TRS, East End Foods
TRS was founded in 1959 and focuses on supplying Indian spices and pulses. East End Foods was set up in 1972 and covers products from the Indian subcontinent such as spices and pulses, nuts, sauces and Nishaan Indian breads. Samani is executive chairman of both businesses.
Cofresh was launched in 1974 and claims to be the UK’s number one Indian snack brand, with best-selling products including Bombay Mix and its potato-based Chilli-Lemon Grills. The company concentrates largely on authentic Indian snacking, and the production of Eat Real, a brand which targets allergen-free healthier snacking.
Vibrant Foods also has the manufacturing capability to produce high quality, nutritious speciality flours, such as ground flour made from chickpeas.
In addition to Vibrant Foods, Exponent Private Equity’s portfolio includes Quorn Foods, Loch Lomond and Meadow Foods.