AT THINKING-COOKING and Sirane we've been saying for a while that cooking bags can increase sales of seafood. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating... or in this case the selling, and a recent store trial in the US delivered outstanding results. The trial at a store in Idaho showed a 48% increase in seafood sales over a one-week period – with more than 350 added-value packaged meals sold during the week.
That's a lot of extra fish sold... and bosses of the chain of stores in question were quick to realise that if even a proportion of that figure could be translated to seafood counter sales across the chain of stores it had huge potential... so much so that the group MD dropped in on the last day of the trial to see for himself what all the fuss was about.
The store used Sirane self-seal steam-cooking bags – sold in the US under the Ready, Chef, Go! brand by Elkay Plastics – to package fresh seafood with flavoured butters as ready meals.
Meals such as Salmon & Asparagus with Brazilian Garlic Butter, Tilapia and Green Beans with Parmesan & Black Pepper Butter, and Peeled Shrimp with Garlic Scampi Butter were created and offered to shoppers as a ‘grab-and-go’ fresh seafood ready meal. Meals were also offered over-the counter at the seafood counter, where customers could choose combinations
Elkay Plastics – Sirane’s exclusive distributor in the US and Canada for self-seal steam cooking bags and oven/BBQ bags – devised the Ready, Chef, Go! programme in order to offer grocery stores a complete package which will allow them to grow sales. It is a very interesting concept, and Elkay has thrown a lot of time and resources behind it... as they know in the US and Canada it will work. Elkay is one of the largest distributors in North America into the food service sector, so it is fair to say they know and understand the North American market. And their Ready, Chef, Go! programme is really gathering momentum.
So what's this got to do with Thinking-Cooking I hear you ask? Well, if you're a retailer looking for ways to increase your seafood sales, or wondering whether offering cooking bags either as part of a ready-meal or as a retail product could work, well this might give you food for thought. It's always interesting to see how other people do it, especially when they do it very successfully. Or it could simply be their butter and sauce offer could give you inspiration.
To make the programme easy, a choice of compound sauce, butter and glaze selections devised by chef Eric Carre – a renowned culinary expert specialising in new product development – has been made available to stores using Ready, Chef, Go! This allows grocery stores to up-sell their fish. Instead of a simple fillet of fish sold at, for example, $2, they suddenly have a seafood ready meal that they can sell for $5.
Butters offered are: garlic scampi; lemon dill; blackened cajun; lemon herb with sea salt and black pepper; parmesan black pepper; Asian BBQ (Kalbi); unami, garlic swiss; creamy bacon siracha; balsamic bacon; spicy soy and ginger; maple bourbon; Cuban mojo; Brazilian garlic; Thai coconut curry, and margarita citrus splash. Sauces offered are: smoked paprika tomato basil; teriyaki; mango teriyaki; pineapple teriyaki; Thai yellow curry; Thai red curry; tangerine orange, and scampi sauce.
The programme comes with a host of marketing materials – including badges, counter displays, floor pads, and large store banners – as well as training and support. And before anyone asks, I have genuinely no idea whether Ready, Steady, Cook!, Ainsley Harriott, or indeed the whole concept of turning a green pepper or a red tomato to show your favourite dish are known at all in the US? Ready, Steady, Cook!... Ready, Chef, Go!... maybe Elkay could look at daytime TV gold for further inspiration....
Ready, Chef, Go! is also offering oven/BBQ bags, sold in the US as grilling bags. For more information on the Ready, Chef, Go! programme, visitwww.readychefgobags.com
MARK LINGARD, MARKETING