LINDSAY SHARMAN talks to Fraser Chynoweth about variety, innovation and Fairtrade credentials
BW: How are you working with wholesalers to grow sales?
FC: We’ve got a dedicated team of out-of-home and foodservice account managers who visit wholesalers. Depending on whether they are cash & carries or foodservice, we allocate the resources as appropriate and we recently recruited more people to that side of the business. We want to work closely with wholesalers on a depot-by-depot basis and launch products specifically for the channel.
What have been your main achievements in the past 12 months?
We launched Light at Heart, a white or brown sugar and stevia blend product, at the beginning of 2012. We are the first to market with stevia, a natural sweetener. Currently, we are launching a range of brown sugars aimed at addressing growth in brown sugar and the trend for home baking.
We’ve also launched ‘single serve’ syrup for breakfast, out-of-home opportunities at locations ranging from cafés and restaurants to hotels offering breakfast service.
Historically, sugar has been a fairly stale category but we hope to change that with some innovation and new products.
How important is sugar in wholesale?
I’ve been in foodservice for 25 years and sugar is far bigger than people think. It is the cornerstone of any wholesaler’s ambient offering and probably in the top 10 categories for wholesale. It’s very important.
One of our biggest differentiators is Fairtrade. It’s the biggest ethical mark in the food industry, worth £1.3bn and growing at 12%. Sugar is growing at 20% so it’s helping to drive growth of Fairtrade. Consumers choose to buy Fairtrade because they know their purchases are helping to change the lives of people who are less fortunate. Almost £1 in every £5 that goes to Fairtrade in the UK is made by us.
What are the challenges?
Europe treats cane refiners like us unfairly. It protects European beet sugar by placing import taxes on much of the cane sugar that is our raw material. This means we face an extra policy-driven cost on our raw material that beet does not. We are campaigning hard in Brussels to get
a fairer deal for cane refiners in Europe.
What are the opportunities for wholesalers?
The must-stock lines are white granulated sugar, which represents 85% of the volume, but it’s also important to have a range to make sure you are fulfilling everyone’s requirements: sugar for baking – caster sugar, icing sugar – and a range of brown sugars from light to dark are essential.
What advice do you have for wholesalers?
Talk to your business manager and make sure you are taking an appropriate number of sugars to your audience. We have a range of sugars available in a drum, for example. They are more expensive but we recommend listing them alongside the paper packs because there is a demand. Remember added-value elements, too: sachets, vending sugars, single-serve syrup and so