May 2024: New product launches

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Among the new product launches is a new range of Pieminister on-the-go pies and Strawberry & Cream flavoured Squashies
Among the new product launches is a new range of Pieminister on-the-go pies and Strawberry & Cream flavoured Squashies

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Food Manufacture rounds up the latest raft of new product launches to hit UK shelves, from Cathedral City's first venture into chilled meals, to new Kettle crisps varieties, and a Thai Green Cod Curry oven ready SKU from New England Seafood.

Estonia-based sunflower seed butter producer makes UK debut

SUNFLY is looking to transform the nut butters alternative sector with its debut line-up that claims to be free of all 14 major allergens.

The Sunflower Seed Butters come in five flavours, including ‘natural’ and chocolate varieties.

Established in Estonia in January 2024, the SUNFLY team brings over a decade of expertise in handling Sunflower Seeds, with prior experience in cultivation and B2B exporting.

SUNFLY’s first direct-to-consumer product, Sunflower Seed Butter, is crafted in a certified production facility in Tallinn which is exclusively dedicated to Sunflower Seed processing.

SUNFLY says the facility is ‘the first of its kind’ in Europe and will set a ‘new standard for food safety’. The company also boasts a field-to-fork approach, overseeing each step of the Sunflower Seed product’s journey in-house.

Giving more detail around the choice behind sunflower seeds, Mark Eivin, co- founder of SUNFLY and a former medical practitioner, said: "Though Sunflowers are primarily cultivated for their oil-rich seeds, less than 10% of their harvest is transformed into the delectable snacks we love. While there is a long history of producing food-grade Sunflower Oil and Meal, there remains untapped potential in creating food-grade products solely from Sunflower Seeds.

“Our choice to focus on Sunflower Seeds is rooted in their exceptional nutritional profile. Packed with Protein, Fibre, Vitamin E, and a myriad of essential minerals and vitamins, Sunflower Seeds offer unparalleled health Benefits."

Since its launch, SUNFLY's Sunflower Seed Butter has garnered praise from consumers and quickly became available in more than 100 leading Estonian stores within just three months.

The saw its UK launch last month (15 April 2024) in Selfridges London.

"To debut in the UK market via Selfridges is a dream come true,"​ shared Dmitri Eivin, CEO and co-founder of SUNFLY "Selfridges’ reputation for championing conscious brands aligns perfectly with our commitment to sustainability, ensuring zero waste throughout our supply chain with plans to introduce future products like sunflower seed milk, sunflower seed protein powder, and sunflower seed cold-pressed oil."

Swizzles releases Squashies flavour

British sweet manufacturer Swizzels, which makes Drumsticks Lollies and Love Hearts, has announced the national launch of Squashies Strawberry & Cream, which are now available to retailers throughout the UK.

The Squashies range has been growing in popularity, with the brand now worth £52.5m. This latest addition to its portfolio represents a consumer call for new flavours.  

Squashies squashes in another flavour

Last year, to support the continued success of Squashies and meet growing demand for NPD in the future, Swizzels unveiled an additional factory in Cheshire.

Talking on the new launch, Clare Newton, trade marketing manager at Swizzels, said: “Our mouth-watering Squashies Strawberry & Cream flavour reflects our dedication to creating exciting new taste sensations for our consumers. Our newest launch is sure to become a must-have sugar confectionery product, combining moreish Squashies with the classic British combo of Strawberry & Cream. Plus, the timing couldn’t be sweeter – launching just in time for National Strawberries & Cream Day on May 21st​.”

Squashies Strawberry & Cream will be available in 120g bags in both price-marked and non-price-marked packs.

Cathedral City enters chilled ready meals segment

Chilled food manufacturer Oscar Mayer has teamed up with British cheese brand Cathedral City on its first venture into chilled meals.

The new products include a cheesy lasagne, cottage pie, chicken and pasta bake, and macaroni cheese. This marks a first for Cathedral City, which, until now, has yet to appear in a chilled meal range.

Consumer research from Oscar Mayer revealed that consumers opt for ready meals to save time, accepting that quality may be compromised. Keen to change narrative, Oscar Mayer has been working closely with Saputo Dairy UK, owners of Cathedral City to create a range that shatters ‘out-dated’ perceptions.

To this end, the range – which hit UK supermarket shelves yesterday (1 May 2024) – is said to contain at least 30% more cheese than the nearest own-label equivalent product.

Cathedral City and Oscar Mayer launch new cheesy products
Cathedral City and Oscar Mayer launch new cheesy products

“For too long the chilled meals category has been content to simply provide options that are a functional purchase for consumers. At Oscar Mayer we believe it’s time to go beyond that and create meals that are unique and desirable,” ​said Gordon Walsh, chief commercial office for Oscar Mayer.

“This partnership with Cathedral City is about us really delivering on what consumers want – a meal solution that is still convenient, but also provides restaurant-quality, delicious meals at an affordable price point.

“We want to tear up the rule book and reverse the out-dated perceptions of ready meals of old, packing our products with plenty of inspiring and indulgent flavours.”

While Oscar Mayer looks to breakdown ready meal stigma, this partnership represents a major milestone for Cathedral Cheese’s portfolio. Adam Braithwaite, Senior Vice President, Commercial at Saputo Dairy UK explained: “For us, Oscar Mayer is the ideal partner in helping Cathedral City to diversify and expand into different categories. Their desire to bring exciting, flavour-packed meal solutions to UK consumers, while delivering on both quality and value, aligns perfectly with our ethos.”

This collaboration with Oscar Mayer follows Cathedral City’s recent successful product launch with Heinz on a new range of ‘cheesy beanz’

New Kettle crisps flavours

Chorizo & Red Pepper is the newest addition to Kettle’s Ridge Cut range.

The new product has been inspired by Spanish flavours, featuring a blend of smoky chorizo and sweet red bell pepper.

The brand has also launched a Sour Cream & Chive flavoured crisp as British summertime nears.

Set to be a staple of Kettle’s core range, both new packs are hand cooked, HFSS compliant, and free of artificial flavourings. They will be available in UK supermarkets later this month.

“We’re overjoyed to be able to treat consumers to our two new flavours, each the result of the passion and creativity of our innovation chef. From the mouth-watering spice of chorizo to the delicate hum of chives, every element has been refined from the highest quality ingredients to build the perfect seasoning. We know that our firm fans and new faces alike will enjoy tucking into a bag of both,” said Phil Holford, head of brands at Valeo Snackfoods which owns Kettle chips.

Premium pies for on-the-go

The brothers-in-law behind indie pie brand Pieminister have created Handy Pies – an on-the-go range, to be eaten hot or cold, of deep filled pastries.

Identifying snacking as a new premium pie eating occasion, the Handy Pie range follows consumer research which revealed non-pie-eater’s turn-offs.

Asking respondents who had not purchased from the savoury pastry snacking category in the past six months why they hadn't (10% of respondents), 38% said it was a result of aesthetics - 'they don't look appealing'.

Handy Pies from Pieminister
Handy Pies from Pieminister

Following close on its heels, 31% and 27% said it was over poor quality meat and pastry, respectively, while 20% said they had distrust in the ingredients.

Commenting Jon Simon, Pieminister co-founder and MD said: “Our key innovation objective is to offer ‘pies for all, for all occasions’, catering for consumers with a variety of dietary choices and requirements while always sticking to our values; only using premium quality ingredients that are sourced for their deforestation-free and high animal welfare credentials as well as great taste.

“This objective led to the expansion of our Classic pie range to include gluten free and plant-based SKUs. Then in May 2023 we successfully launched a trio of filo pastry pies. Launching Handy Pies into the snacking category is the obvious next step for us as we find tasty, new ways to welcome younger, conscious consumers into the pie category.”

The new range will be available on Ocado from April and in Tesco from May, with a RRP of £3.00 at 170g, and in four different varieties. These include cheese and onion, chicken tikka, steak and peppercorn, and a plant-based sausage and bean pie.

New England Seafood's chilled fish brand expands

Chilled fish brand, Fish Said Fred, is launching two new SKUs to its Oven Ready range, with the launch of Thai Green Cod Curry and Tuna Katsu Curry.

The Fish Said Fred Oven Ready range was launched in April 2023, to offer shoppers a convenient way to integrate more fish into their diet. These convenience products continue to be a key strategic opportunity for the brand and category, with added value spend growth within chilled fish +9% year-on-year.

Fish Said Fred Thai Green Cod Curry
Fish Said Fred's Thai Green Cod Curry is one of two new launches from the brand

The two new products will join the existing Cheesy Smoked Haddock offering, with the entire Oven Ready range 100% MSC and ASC certified.

Lisa Cowell, head of marketing at New England Seafood, parent company of Fish Said Fred shared her thoughts: “These latest introductions to the range furthers our commitment to promoting appreciation for delicious, nutritious and responsibly sourced fish, all while upholding our dedication to accessibility for families across the UK.

“With exciting new flavours like the Thai Green Cod Curry and Tuna Katsu Curry, we’re not only satisfying the evolving palates of consumers but also inspiring them to explore the diverse culinary landscape of seafood options available.”

Alcoholic RTD brand gets new blackcurrant flavour

Vodka-based ready to drink (RTD) brand Four Loko has extended its range with the launch of Dark Berry Burst.

Delivering a mix of blackcurrant flavours, Dark Berry Burst comes in 440ml cans (8.4% ABV) with an RRP of £3.49.

“RTDs are enjoying a major period of reinvigoration and the forecast for RTDs is extremely exciting, with particular emphasis on at-home occasions and the linked opportunity to drive sales,”​ commented Clark McIlroy, managing director of Four Loko distributor Red Star Brands.

Four Loko drinks
Four Loko extends its UK portfolio

“Four Loko enjoys a well-earned reputation for being the go-to drink for those seeking unconventional fun and full-on flavour. Taste is perhaps the top consideration when it comes to RTD preferences so staying ahead of the curve is critical.

Dark Berry Burst joins the existing Four Loko line up of eight flavours (all 8.4% ABV), and like the rest of the range, is caffeine-free.

Four Loko is a US brand which launched into the UK in 2021 and has since become one of the fastest growing RTD brands in the UK, adding £7m value growth to the convenience sector (L52wks to 24 December 2023). It has also has eight of the top 13 fastest-selling SKUs in GB convenience (by value).

“The continuing squeeze on household incomes increasingly means that staying in remains the new going out, but the consumer thirst for innovation signals a clear demand for flavourful imagination,”​ concluded Mcllroy.

A ‘safe space’ to talk mental health over crisps

Beavertown, a British brewery based in Tottenham, which is known for its craft beers including Neck Oil, Gamma Ray, Lupuloid, and Bones, has teamed up with mental health charity CALM to launch a limited-edition packet of crisps.

The cheddar and jalapeño flavoured crisps have been developed with the help of several companies: artisanal crisp brand SMUG and its partners and crisp manufacturer the Yorkshire Crisp Company, as well as compostable packaging expert Parkside.

The idea behind the crisps is to encourage positive conversations around mental health, with the pack featuring conversation starters printed on the inside of the laminate material.

Open up crisps and Beavertown drink
The 'Open Up' crisps are designed to encourage conversations on mental health

The ice breakers created by CALM featured on pack ask questions such as, ‘What gets you through tough times?’ and ‘If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?’.

This stems from research conducted by CALM that found more than half (56%) of people in the UK have pretended to be ‘okay’ to avoid talking about their own mental health.

The packaging is a compostable solution sourced from Parkside Flexibles’ Park2Nature range. The laminate includes high barrier compostable cellulose film layers, NatureFlex films, sourced from Futamura.

The finished packs, with printed designs on the outside and the inside, are Seedling and OK Compost accredited as compostable. It is also compliant to the EU standard EN13432 for packaging recovery through biodegradation and composting.

Commenting, Parkside’s sales account manager, Mark Shaw, said: “We are delighted that we were able to work on this design for Beavertown crisps and contribute to this campaign for mental health. Beavertown crisps provide that natural invitation to start sharing in a relaxed way, right there at the pub. A great idea if you ask me!’’

Responding to the demand for healthier carbonated soft drinks

Launching tomorrow, the new products will be available in single and multi packs under the name Sweet Freedom Fizz.

Four flavours will hit shelves – lime and mint, raspberry and cranberry, mango and mandarin, and pineapple and coconut.

Sweet Freedom sparkling water
Sweet Freedom Fizz

The drinks have been designed with wellbeing in mind, with ingredients chosen of their health and cognitive benefits. They are also free from artificial sweeteners and flavours, and refined sugar, as well as being low calorie.

“Artificial sweeteners and ingredients have always been a no-go for us, and when we discovered the potential for sustainable cocoa juice as a natural sweetener, we were eager to be the first to bring it over to the UK. This is the part of the cocoa bean which usually gets discarded, so using it means the farmers we work with now get paid for an extra part of their harvest,” ​said the company’s co-founder Deborah Pyner.

“In terms of how we retrieve this unique ingredient – the cocoa pods are collected and pressed in innovative mobile solar-powered factories to extract their light fruity juice. Then, through blockchain technology, the farmers are fairly compensated, and their beans are returned to them to continue their processing for the cocoa industry (which we use in our chocolate products).

Research carried out by Sweet Freedom, with help from TRKR last year, found that 65% of people who buy carbonated soft drinks say added health benefits would make them buy more often. This, combined with many other studies, including a key finding from Britvic’s 2023 Soft Drink review that 73% of consumers would like to see (carbonated soft drink) variants with all natural ingredients, proved to the team that there was growing demand in this area.

Sharing her thoughts on this, Pyner added: “These findings alongside our extensive expertise in crafting products from all natural ingredients, has made transitioning into the functional drinks space a logical progression for us.”

Moi’s Mini French beignets arrive in UK

Finally, Moi by Mademoiselle Desserts has unveiled bite-sized French desserts to the UK

The mini beignets – essentially a sweet piece of fried dough – are made from French brioche. Mademoiselle Desserts says this dough yields mini beignets that are light, fluffy and exceptionally soft.

Speculoos flavoured mini beignet
The Speculoos flavoured mini beignet from Moi

Moi's Mini Beignets come in four flavours tailored to suit the seasons: Hazelnut & Cocoa; Red Fruits, Apple, and a caramelised spice Speculoos (think Biscoff).

Starting its journey in the French countryside in the 1980s, with a small local bakery company supplying the trade with puff pastry sheets, the company has since become an International Group supplying bakery shops, cafes and restaurants across France and beyond.

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