Insightful Bites Issue 12

Insightful Bites Issue 12

Insightful Bites, Issue 12

Issue 12 of Insightful Bites is here, to get your teeth into!  

Each month, the Sharp Relations team saves you time by collating the latest trends and insights from the hottest topics in the world of food and drink.  

Here’s what we think you need to know… 

Topics that were hotter than an air fryer at Bread & Jam’s Inaugural Foodservice Summit, where our Founder AJ Sharp chaired a panel. As follows… 

Focus on one area and do it well Rushina Shah from Insane Grain expanded on navigating the size of the Foodservice market.  It’s vast – there are 8 areas and 350,000 outlets to consider when launching into Foodservice. Knowing where to focus your efforts is key – is it hotels, bars, fine dining, restaurants, wholesale, cash and carry, casual dining, QSR or something else?  

The sector is completely nuanced. For example, if you’re approaching a restaurant chain they’re interested in seasonality and NPD then it’s imperative to think about what problem you are solving for them. Your first point of contact will be the head chef. Don’t try and go after all areas of Foodservice, get specialised to save time and budget.  

Alex Wright from DASH Water shared several insights: 

Nurture relationships and solve problems for people – people buy from people and it’s important to nurture those relationships with buyers and distributors. 

Fundamentally, it’s important to understand the pressures on the buyer you’re speaking to. What do their targets link to? What do they care about? Do your research, if you know this you can sell to it. Always understand who you sending to and exactly what they want, before you walk into the meeting.  

When selling, always remember the top three things: 

  • Proof of concept. Get the data to back up why the product is relevant.  
  • Why us? Share evidence how your business is doing it better than anyone else. 
  • Get the marketing and point of sale material. 

Packaging is key – There’s a balance between being sustainable and being safe.  Glass might be environmentally friendly, but it does not work in schools or Food to Go. There are many challenges around limited space, so it’s very competitive and the commercials are tough.  

Casual Dining – Remember products need to look good as people are having an experience. Casual dining locations are open all day long so therefore your product needs to appeal to customers all day long. Think quality driven, real ingredients and something you can’t create at home. Remember you also need to solve problems such as sugar content, salt content, food waste and sustainability.  It also must be visually appealing and taste good. 

The strategy – Start with the Independents and build outwards and upwards, advised Aaron Duffett from Lucky Saint. When inching into Foodservice for the first time, it’s great to start with the independent outlets and then go after the chains. The reason for this is that you only get one chance with the chains, so it’s imperative to get it right. It’s very tempting to go after the scale immediately but make sure you prove your concept first. 

He also talked about the importance of putting investment and love into supporting front of House staff so they can be your brand advocates. 

So many options – Biff Burrows from Biff’s Plant Shack noted that there are so many more options when it comes to Foodservice, so you get more chances to succeed.  In his experience with the multiples, you must be perfect first time but with Foodservice, there are many more avenues and chances. 

You heard it here first (months ago) but we’ll say it again, frozen food is having its moment and this was the clearest message at IFE 2023 last week. Hot Topics included:  

IFE 2023: How Frozen Food is set to be sub-zero this year: 

You heard it here first and we’ll say it again, frozen food is having its moment.  From the value propositions of Iceland, the frozen category is on the verge of an important evolution. 

At IFE, we attended a brilliant trends and innovation talk from Denise Rion from the British Frozen Food Federation and Nick Downing, Commercial Director of IGD.  They both shared some fascinating insights into the potential of the frozen food market in 2023 and highlighted some of the innovations in the category. 

Denise talked us through: 

  • Record-breaking food costs facing consumers – meaning that consumers are naturally switching from chilled to frozen in search of better value propositions. Price point is key and the ability to offer quality at an affordable price must be a consideration for mid-market propositions as opposed to value and premium offers, which remain relatively untouched. 
  • The rise of minimal processing and clean label – another area where frozen can capitalise with freshly frozen natural ingredients with nutrition locked in and no added nasties. 
  • The frozen opportunity – innovation, authenticity, sustainability, reduced food waste, the ability to offer a homemade proposition, health conscious HFSS compliant e.g., plant-based products, restaurant brands bringing high quality premium options that still offer value. 

Nick talked about: 

  • Brand standout – the huge potential for brands to create impactful branding and great messaging in the frozen aisle to stand out to consumers. There’s room for retailer and supplier funded branding activations. He cited fabulous examples including Bird’s Eye with its eye-catching branding on its freezer windows and portion size messaging, and Udders, the ice cream brand who are using artificial grass to communicate their brand values. 
  • New reasons to visit the store – is always central for the retailer. 
  • Customer experience – how Singaporean supermarket Fair Price is bringing together chilled, counter and freezer cabinets to achieve maximum impact for their seafood offer whilst giving the customer an incredible and easy experience. 
  • The need for suppliers to get closer to the point of sale and understand how their product hits the shelf, particularly in a complex product category e.g., cold, or heavy. 
  • Room for more messaging on cutting down on food waste – the sweet spot for frozen food. 
  • What good looks like – Edeka in Germany are leading the way with great use of lighting and vertical product displays for an impressive customer experience.  Closer to home, Nick urged everyone to visit M&S London Colney store who are doing a fantastic job of capturing a greater share of the eating out market. 

Stand-out frozen innovation at IFE 2023:  

  • One of the stands creating the biggest stir at IFE was Pukpip’s new frozen bananas dipped in chocolate.  Their stand was literally mobbed, and visitors couldn’t get enough of their chocolate dipped treats on a stick.   
  • Cook, the successful frozen home cooked meal delivery brand, continues to innovate with giant vending machines for offices capturing a share of the out of home eating opportunity. 

Other trends hotting up at IFE: 

  • Functional foods with health benefits – from fermented cookies to CBD herbal teas and plant-based vegetable fibre baking ingredients that dramatically reduce sugar content in baked goods, we’re seeing continued innovation in this area. 
  • More delicious vegetable crisps – we tasted artichoke and cauliflower crisps on our travels. 
  • Playful children’s confectionery brands – funky, colourful kids fruit snacking brand Bob Snail featured collectable toys and premium gifting lines for children. 


If you loved this, then please do read all the latest news from Sharp HQ here.   We exist to help the ‘good’ brands to grow. You’re welcome to Book a call with one of our team to find out more.  


We’re collecting some insights of our own if you don’t mind helping please? Would you mind filling out this quick survey please?  

It is multiple choice and takes less than 5 mins and would be an enormous help to the team. Plus, you can win a free mentoring session! We are very grateful. 


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