Pies & Pasties - Winning mix

25/10/2016 - 07:00
Freshly baked pies and pasties will always be popular and a top choice for consumers to eat in or on the go and a winner for café and restaurant operators. Sheila Eggleston reports.

The aroma, taste and instant satisfaction that pies and pasties offer make them irresistible despite the continuous drum banging about health and obesity. However many suppliers are addressing these issues and are offering ‘better for you’ choices.

Bakery chain Greggs, for instance, has been upping its healthier options since launching the Balanced Choice range in 2014, which now accounts for more than 10% of total sales, and now has added savoury options with less than 300 calories.

Katsu chicken and Bombay Potato Bakes, which the company claims are a first to market, meet green or amber across the Food Standards Agency traffic light system for fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar. Both consist of shortcrust pastry featuring a sourdough-flavoured case and a crunchy, spiced crumb topping, with a filling of carefully selected low calorie but delicious flavours, and freshly baked daily in-store.

“We’ve wanted to extend our range with savouries, but it was important to get the recipe and taste right,” comments commercial director, Malcolm Copland. “Our new bakes offer lighter options for savoury fans; lower in calories, fat and saturated fat but still as tasty as our customers have come to expect.”

Proper Cornish continues to invest in new product development and has also launched a lower fat, lower salt traditional pasty, with the promise of more to follow.

Founder and managing director Chris Pauling says the business is continuing to adapt to food-to-go’s popularity as sales in this category are expected to rise by 6.8% this year, according to the IGD’s 2016 survey. The latter also states that 70% of people bought food-to-go for lunch, demonstrating demand for quick meals for busy lifestyles.

The company says its products are perfect for millennials, with up to 44% of people aged 18-34 shunning three meals a day in favour of snacking, according to research by Canadean. “NPD is key to maintaining the interest of consumers, particularly millennials,” comments Pauling. “This demographic is key for the food-to-go industry as they continue to demonstrate strong spending power.”

Last year, the company launched 145g pies for people looking for smaller, filling snacks. These hexagonally shaped pies allow no spills while eating on the go, says the company, with premium ingredients sourced locally where possible and the reduced portion size appealing to health-conscious consumers.

Bakery specialist Wrights Food Group says its focus is on traditional British fare and high quality products at affordable prices.

“Our famous meat and potato pie is the same as it was when first created in 1926 – no compromise,” comments commercial director Jez Threadgold. “Its ingredients include beef, potatoes, onions, flour, vegetable shortening, water, glaze, salt, baking powder, white pepper and caramelised sugar. This classic pie is a firm favourite with our customers and remains a bestseller to this day.”

Threadgold says that new product development is ongoing; for instance, it is now baking more pies in tin rings instead of foils, which gives them a crustier bake. “Exactly how pies would have been made when Wrights first started,” he adds.

“We’ve just added a premium sausage roll to our range that features more seasoned chopped pork filling in our light, crispy puff pastry shell.”

His advice for operators is to “make an impact, but keep it simple”. “It’s imperative to capture consumers with catchy point of sale, and the message should be clear and easy to navigate,” explains Threadgold.

NPD has paid off with companies offering more on-trend fillings and interesting formats, which are winning major awards.

A year after Flagship Europe’s acquisition of Oliver James Foods, this division has continued to add to its trophy cupboard, its most recent gains including six gold, six silver and five bronze for its Proper Pies range at the 2016 British Pie Awards. Gold winners included variants of its beef and ale recipe as well as chicken leek, crème fraîche and ham hock pie.

New bakes introduced by Country Choice this year as alternatives to the norm are chicken and chorizo bake with a puff pastry coat sprinkled with breadcrumb, parsley and paprika, plus a pulled pork bake filled with a puff pastry shell dusted with breadcrumb and paprika.

Meanwhile, Square Pies’ pies and mini ‘Canapies’, which were once only available from its pie restaurants, are now available frozen and chilled in foodservice, wholesale and retail. This year new Canapie flavours include Bolognese, apple and treacle, and, to capitalise on the grab and go trend, a flow-wrapped Canapie pack to eat on the move was launched at the lunch! show in September.

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