Inside … Pasta King

Inside … Pasta King
18/01/2017 - 12:26
In Cost Sector Catering’s series of Q&As with suppliers, we talk to Christine Forrest, marketing manager at Pasta King.

Cost Sector Catering: What have been the challenges and main drivers for your business?
Christine Forrest: Education remains our primary focus, and we see the challenges that caterers face in this sector as our challenges with which to assist. Feeding large numbers of students in an increasingly squeezed timeframe with meals that can be eaten on the go, if required, is the main challenge, coupled with ensuring that the dining hall is a vibrant environment in which to eat.

Are you working on any partnerships/initiatives within the cost sector?
With the increasing influence of contract caterers, we are continuing to build relationships with national and regional players. We can offer off-the-shelf or co-created solutions, and that can range from bespoke point of sale right through to individually tailored concepts.

What are your bestsellers?
Our pasta sauces represent our core business and some new flavours such as barbecue pulled pork, and tomato and mascarpone have proved to be real winners. However, it’s our new Mexican range that has really been wowing students across the country, with our nacho pots proving to be the ultimate grab-and-go break-time snack that pupils and teachers love.

What trends do you see emerging in this sector?
Resource is an ongoing challenge across foodservice, and education catering is no exception – staffing at the right levels for kitchen prep and service is a delicate balance. Where there is resource to serve, our new street-food carts have proved to drive sales by creating an eye-catching and practical additional serving point from which more than a hundred portions can be served without the need to restock.

But when resource is tight, our new hot cabinet is an effective solution for maintaining sales as it can be pre-loaded before serving, and acts as an additional grab-and-go counter.

From a product perspective, provenance and sustainability are also growing in importance. We recognise this so are able to trace all the tomatoes that make our sauces back to the sapling from where they started out – we have total control over the whole process, which gives us confidence that we are providing the best-quality sauce every time.

Are any trends spurring on product development?
The rise of breaktime as a major feeding period in its own right has and continues to focus our product development plans. Through our sister brand Street Eats, we are constantly exploring world cuisines, influenced by the demand for street-food concepts. However, we don’t forget that Italian food is still ‘king of the high street’, and our promotion of pasta and sauce reflects that.

What are your aspirations and goals for 2017?
With more than 20 years of delivering innovative solutions to caterers in the education sector, we’d like to think that we can continue to offer food that is nutritious and wholesome while still being relevant to today’s students, all at the same time as continuing to provide caterers and business managers with cost-effective, added-value solutions that make their lives easier.

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