Product showcase 2021: General Mills goes soft, Whole Earth gets personal and Bwydydd Madryn flies the flag for Welsh snacks

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

What are you in the mood for today? Pic: GettyImages/lemono
What are you in the mood for today? Pic: GettyImages/lemono

Related tags: General mills, Whole Earth Brands, Bwydydd Madryn, Tokyo Olympic Games, Snacks, Peanut butter, seeds, Wall's Pastry, White Rabbit, Pukka pies

General Mills is moving its iconic Pillsbury brand into the cookie aisle with a line of Soft Baked Cookies; Whole Earth is gearing up for the Tokyo Olympics with personalised jars of peanut butter; and Pwellheli-based food distributor Bwydydd Madryn is ramping up its portfolio of Welsh treats.

Team Crunchy or Team Smooth?

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Whole Earth are inviting fans to pick their team. The artisan peanut butter producer is commemorating its partnership with Team GB for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – now scheduled on 23 July to 8 August 2021 – by giving fans the chance to personalise their branded jar of Whole Earth Organic Crunchy or Whole Earth Organic Smooth.

Available online until September, a 340g personalised jar has an RRP of £6.99 + shipping. Shoppers can also win a trip to the Tokyo Games, dependent on Covid-19 restrictions.

Consumers are also invited to participate in an online challenge on Whole Earth’s website for a chance to win a range of Team GB goodies. Competitors go head to head to track their team of choice on a colour-coded map identifying the ‘Smooth’ and ‘Crunchy’ hotspots across the UK.

Are you Team Crunchy or Team Smooth? Either way, Whole Earth peanut butter is a good source of plant-based protein and fibre, made with only natural ingredients that are good for you and good for the planet. Each of Whole Earth’s peanut butter jars are fully recyclable and the brand has teamed up with the  Sumatran Orangutan Society to plant 20,000 trees in Indonesia this year. It’s a winning situation, no matter which way you spin it.

Recipe revamp

Team shot (002)

April 2021 will see Pep & Lekker releasing bolder ‘recipe invigorated’ Seed Snacks on the market, having spent lockdown re-affirming its credentials as a nutritional advocate for well-balanced, vegan snacking.

Situated somewhere between crackers and savoury biscuits, Seed Snacks is a unique range of gut-friendly, gluten-free snacks ‘that bristle with full-bodied flavours and healthy convictions, whilst presenting nutritious seeds in a satisfyingly crunchy, ‘easy to eat’ format’, says the startup.

According to cofounder Susan Gafsen, “During lockdown, we were fortunate enough to procure honest, meaningful feedback from a handful of ‘leading light’ retailers impatient for us to take the next big step.

“The broad consensus was that whilst our gluten-free treats showcased seeds in a bold, versatile snacking light, our well-intentioned quest to tick every imaginable wellbeing tick box had unwittingly dented our mainstream appeal.”

The founders went back to the drawing board and made a few subtle changes – like substituting sunflower oil for pure olive oil; a down-weighting of chia seeds; adding date syrup for its two sweet offerings; and introducing a thicker, sublimely crunchy format.

Adds Gafsen, “Better still is the fact that we’ve amplified the appetite appeal and messaging of our packaging and introduced a new, non-crinkly recyclable pouch which means from now we’ll truly sing from the shelves.”

Pep & Lekker’s Seed Snacks are available from major retail outlets across the UK.

For the big British family

Wall's Pastry launches limited edition 'Great Family Favourites' range into Asda stores (002)

Wall’s Pastry is rolling out its range of family favourites in selected UK Asda stores for a limited three week trial from 18 March.

The range – which has been developed by Addo Food Group on behalf of the brand – has been designed to meet the growing demand for family-focused meals and offers British classic that are perfect for springtime al fresco dining, including Chicken & Gravy Pie, Minced Steak & Onion Pie, Family Sausage Roll, Bacon & Cheese Quiche and Cheese & Onion Quiche.

Mike Holton, brand manager at Wall’s Pastry, said, “The range was developed to provide quick and easy meals that can be enjoyed during different occasions, they make the perfect meal for the whole family and will also take pride of place on a buffet table. We wanted to create products that deliver on taste and flavour and, at their heart, bring the family together.”

“In a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, shoppers across the UK have gone in search of traditional, comforting British flavours and we’re excited to be launching a range that will appeal directly to those consumers. Following extensive consumer research, which showed that the nation had missed quality family time the most during lockdown, and with shopping habits shifting over the last 12 months, we wanted to develop a range that delivers on value but also includes familiar, comforting foods that consumers love.

“The new range expands on our classic pies and slices and also includes two quiches and a family-sized sausage roll, which are sure to take precedence during family mealtimes. Whether it’s a mid-week dinner, or a warming lunch, we want to offer convenient meal solutions to consumers who are looking for tasty and flavoursome feel-good food to enjoy together.”

The Great Family Favourite range will be available at selected Asda stores across the UK in 400g and 450g packs for RRP of £1.50-$2.00.

‘Meatier’ eat

FOP Visual_Arrabbiata Vegan_CMYK (002)

Alternative pizza challenger White Rabbit has introduced a new vegan pizza on a wheat crust base to target the broader ‘flexitarian’ market.

The Vegan Arrabbiata hit UK shelves – Sainsbury’s and Ocado ($5.00 for 370g) – earlier this year, targeting shoppers looking for tasty plant-based options that offer a ‘meatier’ eat. The pizza is topped with spicy chicken-free strips with sundried tomatoes, roasted red onions and vegan mozzarisella.

The pack design marks distinctions between White Rabbit’s new wood-fired wheat crust offer and its Free From core range, which is also being extended with a gluten free, plant-based Farmhouse Foccacine in Waitrose and a Garlicky variant launching in Sainsbury’s and Ocado (£3.00 for 2 x 135g).

“Crafting delicious authentic pizza that everyone can enjoy has been central to our brand purpose from the very beginning and flexitarian shoppers are key to our mission,”​ said cofounder Nick Croft-Simon, noting the brand has enjoyed an impressive 52% yoy growth.

“The Vegan Arrabiata on a wood-fired wheat crust base offers flexis plant-based alternative toppings without compromise and our move into the main fixture with a bold and distinctive look gives our brand next level visibility to this broader target audience.

White Rabbit is certified as gluten-free and SALSA accredited.

Slice of summer

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Pukka, one of the UK’s biggest hot pie brands, has unveiled a limited edition Sausage, Leek & Cider pie for the summer, created in partnership with Westons Cider.

Landing on supermarket shelves from 15 March, the Sausage, Leek & Cider pie sees Pukka’s 144 layers of signature puff pastry wrapped around slices of pork sausage, leeks and apples swimming in a Stowford Press Cider gravy.

The brand has swapped its trademark orange packaging for a summer-themed box – which is fully recyclable – featuring colourful summer cues, bunting imagery and a pint of Stowford Press.

“Our mission is to put more pies on more plates more often, which means continuing to innovate to make pies more relevant throughout the year, including in the summer,”​ said Rachel Cranston, head of marketing and innovation at Pukka.

“With Sausage, Leek & Cider, we have achieved just that. This is thanks to working with the Westons team to add their well-loved Stowford Press to our recipe along with our combination of tasty ingredients – because nothing says summer quite like sipping on a refreshing cider. With the addition of sausage, leeks, apples and our flaky, golden puff pastry, we’ve created a one-of-a-kind recipe.”

This isn’t the first time Pukka has partnered with a drinks brand. Last year, the brand announced it was adding Marston’s Pedigree into its Steak & Ale pie, chalking up a 32% increase in retail sales.

“We expect our tasty Sausage, Leek & Cider pie to be just as successful. We’re particularly confident because in our independently commissioned consumer research into how shoppers feel about certain flavour profiles, ‘Sausage, Leek & Cider’ performed strongly  – especially with our younger pie fans.”

Sally McKinnon, head of Marketing at Westons Cider, added, “Stowford Press is bursting with the flavour of crisp cider apples – and the refreshing, medium-dry and sparkling taste profile makes it the perfect partner to Pukka’s new recipe. We’re excited to see this partnership come to life over the summer, and we’re sure households up and down the country will enjoy tucking in.”

Pukka’s limited edition Sausage, Leek & Cider pie is available in Morrisons in the UK for an RRP of £1.89 for a 213g pie. The recipe uses Westons Cider’s Stowford Press, which is also available in Morrisons in a 500ml bottle.

Classic snacks reimagined

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Quinn Snacks has rolled out another first in the snack aisle.

Its new Maple Almond Butter Pretzel Nuggets places sorghum on the pedestal, an ancient whole grain that is naturally gluten-free and better for the environment, thanks to its drought tolerant properties. In addition, this mindful snack is Non-GMO Project Verified, corn-free, soy-free, dairy-free and vegan friendly.

The nuggets – like all Quinn products – are made with only real ingredients, including being sweetened with maple and packed with almonds. Available across the US in Whole Foods for an RRP of $5.49.

Other nugget flavours include Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets and Dark Chocolate’y Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets.

According to the producer, Quinn Pretzels were the first pretzels on the market made with whole grain sorghum. The pretzels sticks and twists – available in Classic Sea Salt, Deli Rye and Touch of Honey – are made from cassava flour, also known as yuca, a Paleo friendly and gluten free root vegetable.

The producer also delivered the first-to-market microwave popcorn in a patented Pure Pop Bag made of compostable paper that is free of chemicals, plastic and heat conducting susceptors.

Feel like a millionaire

Hackney

Hackney Gelato – producers of authentic Italian gelato and sorbetto – have developed the UK’s first ever Millionaire Shortbread Gelato.

Launching in March exclusively instore and online with Tesco, Millionaire Shortbread Gelato combines slow churned, creamy gelato with chunks of home baked shortbread, Belgian milk chocolate and caramel ripple.

Hackney Gelato was founded by chefs Enrico Pavoncelli and Sam Newman in 2015. First sold at Brick Lane’s Sunday market, word quickly spread and the gelato soon found its way onto menus of many of London’s top restaurants.

Six years on, Hackney Gelato now supplies the hospitality and retail channels, in Ocado, Waitrose, Tesco, Whole Foods Market and Farmdrop.

“Eating our Millionaire Shortbread Gelato is an intensely rewarding experience. Like winning gold at the Olympics. Or getting a question right on University Challenge,”​ said Newman.

Hackney Gelato Millionaire Shortbread Gelato is available for £5.49 in 500ml tubs.

Soft spot

Soft baked

General Mills is moving its iconic Pillsbury brand into the cookie aisle for the first time with a line of ready-to-eat Soft Baked Cookies.

Made with a blend of butter and shortening for a soft texture, the treats come in four flavours: Chocolate Chip, Confetti, Sugar with Drizzled Icing, and Peanut Butter with Chocolatey Drizzle.

The cookies contain between 150 calories and 130 calories each, with 14g-11g of sugar per serving.

“Pillsbury is a beloved baking brand that has been around for more than 100 years, but its products have never been in the cookie aisle until now,” ​said Jeff Caswell, president of General Mills’ Snacks Division.

“While our fans love baking Pillsbury products in the oven, our consumer research indicates there are times that a ready-to-eat cookie is preferred. We focused on launching Pillsbury Soft Baked Cookies for that quick treat, knowing there is not always time for baking.”

Pillsbury Soft Baked Cookies are available at Walmart stores across the US beginning this month and at other retailers nationwide starting in April. Each package of 18 snack-sized cookies has an RRP of $3.69.

Treats from Snowdonia

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Maria McLean of Dylan's restaurant with Geraint Hughes

Jones Popcorn is part of a newly launched range of snacks distributed by Bwydydd Madryn, a Pwellheli-based food company set up by Geraint Hughes in 2012 to promote Welsh produce, which he describes as ‘the best in the world’.

The all-American popcorn comes with a couple of local twists: its flavoured with Halen Môn sea salt from the coastline of Anglesey and Blodyn Aur (Golden Flower) rapeseed oil from the hills above Llanfihangel Glyn Myfyr in Conwy.

Also part of Bwydydd Madryn’s snack lineup are iconic Welsh treats like individual slices of Bara Brith fruit loaf and twin packs of Welsh Cakes made in the village of Llanllechid, along with Jones Chocolate from Bala in Gwynedd.

Among the first stockists of the snacks is the Dylan’s chain of restaurants, which has eateries in Porthaethwy, Criccieth and Llandudno. The company has also launched a new website to enable sales direct to customers as well as through supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants across Wales.

“The spur for establishing Bwydydd Madryn nine years ago was to have more of an influence on the food chain so we could provide an outlet for Welsh food producers,”​ said Geraint.

“When times are difficult like now with the Covid pandemic, it’s important not to retreat into your shell. We have done the complete opposite and been proactive in speeding up the launch new products like the snacks, which, I’m glad to say, are proving very popular.

“The golden thread that runs through everything is our Welsh ethos – the driver for me was seeing how much was being bled out of the local economy because of the way the food industry is set up.”

James Hughes, Geraint’s business partner, added, “One consequence of the pandemic is that there seems to be a bit of a backlash against globalisation with people wanting more localisation.

“The story behind the produce and its provenance is important and we felt there was a gap for Welsh snack products.”

As part of its mission to introduce Wales to the world, the Jones brand founded the Bara Brith World Championships, first held in 2016.

The one

One

One Bar – a protein bar company shaking up the category with its guilt-free, indulgent flavours – is rolling out a new flavour, which it claims will ‘redefine adulting’.

One’s second limited edition flavour is – Fruity Cereal – is now available on Amazon, in addition to Trader Joe’s and specialty retailers across the US. Think a nostalgic bowlful of creamy, fruity breakfast cereal and you have a perfectly attuned ontrend treat.

According to the producer, 44% of consumers are turning more to nostalgic foods since the pandemic began, with 59% stating fruity cereal invokes childhood memories.  However, 60% of consumers either fe4el guilty because snacks aren’t good for them or are not satisfied because the snack don’t taste good.

Enter One Bar, available in a pack of 12 for $24.99.

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