Eating Well This January: Eating In

OK, so I’m going to assume that a lot of you are like me in that you may have over indulged a little over the Christmas break; am I right? Well if you’ve done that then you probably also spent most of the Twixmas period trying to eat all the bad things left in the house before January arrives; still on track? Now it’s time to admit that you’ve started making strange noises when you raise yourself out of a chair and to do something about it.

I’m not into that ‘New Year, New Me’ bullshit but I do believe that making lifestyle changes can provide a good platform to being a bit happier and a bit healthier. So, I’m on a quest to find ways to eat well but improve my health at the same time.

Mrs Munkee and I have opted to give the paleo diet a try. Now, I’m not usually a fad-follower but I want to get my mission into print then I will feel more obliged to stick to it and will be publically shamed if I fail! I do want to be clear though: this does NOT mean that I will be neglecting my duties as a Food Adventurer. Instead, what I want to do is find ways to eat great food that fit within the parameters of a healthy lifestyle and food routine.

Please don’t be alarmed though. January’s blog series won’t be preachy and I won’t be turning into a spandex-clad-Mr Motivator-look-a-like. It’s just another leg to my Food Adventure.

Juicy Fuel Cola

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: just about anyone but the discovery of a natural fruit cola will be music to the ears of anyone who is just in the process of making the lifestyle change

Packaging

Fantastic. In my view a big amount of this product’s charm is held in the packaging. The soft drinks category is fast-paced, noisy and ruthless so differentiated, honest and en vogue designs will certainly help to stand out from the wallpaper. In addition to this, the messaging that comes across from the can is spot on. The product’s USP is that it is natural, simple and is one of your five a day. Well I can see that easily from the shelf. Job done.

Pricing

£1.00 – well, it’s the magic price point so you can’t really argue. Yes, it’s steeper than it’s famously red counterpart but just how much can you trust the ingredients of a drink that I use to clean my toilet?

Delivery

Genuinely outstanding. Both the cola and the cherry cola variants are fantastic. In my opinion they have echoes of the familiar flavour with a non-synthetic aftertaste. A natural efficionado would be able to identify each fruit as it bursts in the mouth.

My only complaint about these drinks is that they may have spoiled my enjoyment of the better-known brands!

Verdict – in a word, superb! Managing a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy with temptation lurking behind every supermarket shelf however it’s products like Juicy Fuel Cola that make that transition that bit easier. My belief is that you should be able to lead a healthy life without breaking the bank or punishing your tastebuds; more of these types of products please!

Details: http://www.thejuiceshedcompany.com/

Northern Munkee.

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BBC’s The Apprentice: on Gin Branding

BBC’s The Apprentice: what they could have done differently?

I have a confession to make…hello my name is Northern Munkee and I’m a big fan of The BBC’s The Apprentice.

Yes, I join the millions of viewers each week who scream in unison at their TV sets offering advice to budding entrepreneurs seeking to earn Lord Sugar’s affections (and a £250k investment).

Now, just to be clear this post is not designed to criticise any of the candidates. The process isn’t something I’d want to go through and I have a great deal of respect for those that do; they are all great business people in their own right. However, when a foodie task like this week’s arises it would be remiss of me not to consider what they could have done differently.

For those with busy Thursday nights or haven’t had the chance to catch up on iPlayer I won’t give anything away regarding the Final 5 – I promise. The premise of the task was to develop a new gin brand and product to pitch to three teams of booze buyers.

I just want to call out three areas that I believe both teams could have done differently: the product, the brand and the pitch.

northernmunkeebites.ginbrand.png

The Product 

So, let’s skip to over the ‘puddle-coloured’ product; we all know it’s wrong and the poor girl got enough stick for that.

Anybody that’s been to a food festival this year will know that we’re in the midst of a gin revolution; which means the palates of the early-adopting populous are becoming more discerning when it comes to gin. They are, therefore, not easy to fool.

Although one team clearly outperformed the other in product terms, they both went into the task blind. Unless you’re a gin expert how can you understand what’s popular, what’s on trend and what’s a dog. I’m confident that some superficial market research would have prevented some of the initial mistakes. A great quote from the show was ‘don’t be unique for unique’s sake’ – priceless.

The Brand

Now, I have some real sympathy here. Creating a brand to sell to Tesco shouldn’t be achievable in a month, let alone a morning so I fully appreciate the restrictions imposed on the teams. That being said, they didn’t seem to be in danger of stumbling upon on the next Innocent!

A brand is an emotional entity and needs to inspire people to get behind your cause. Difficulties with pronunciation and a haunting history weren’t about to drive the gin-drinking hipsters to buy ‘Colony’ or ‘Giin’. The ‘Colony’ camp did at least attempt to add some texture to their brand and created a credible backstory but, if we’re honest, it was doomed from the outset.

The Pitch

I’m afraid I have to be a little critical here, although I do fully appreciate how intimidating any pitch can be; let alone when you’re put on the spot and have a TV camera thrust in your face. Both teams pitches lacked any sort of structure and cohesion even though they did enjoy some success. If you feel you need more than one person to present then it is integral that you assign clear roles and responsibilities as opposed to having three people telling one story.

A strong sales pitch is composed of experts: a brand expert, a category/market expert and a customer expert. You’ll note that I haven’t listed a ‘sales expert’ there. My view is that you shouldn’t need to sell in the classical sense; you should never need to ask for an order because you’ve understood your customer, identified an opportunity or issue and your proposal presents the perfect (and collaborative) solution.

northernmunkeebites-quickguide

So to summarise this post, let’s look at what we can learn from this episode:

  • The Product: do your research and if you intend to develop a unique product make sure you have a reason for doing it
  • The Brand: seek to inspire people to create fans not customers
  • The Pitch: create a pitch composed of experts but leave the sales expert in the office

So that concludes my TV-inspired post, be sure to check out my latest guest post on branding for Smoothie PR; and before you go don’t forget to leave me a comment on this post to let me know what you thought of the episode.

Northern Munkee.

Revolutionary Cold Pressed Drinks…

Focus on SIAL: Coldpress Drinks

Over the next week I will be focussing my attentions on Paris and SIAL: the world’s largest food innovation exhibition.

Innovation is the lifeblood of food retail as it drives new shoppers, new interests, new sales and new opportunities. There has been a plethora of game changing innovations over the last few years that have redefined food retailing in one way or another: bottled water, the shelf check-out, home delivery, micro-meals, vaping…the list is endless.

So, in the spirit of SIAL, I’m going to give my view of the world of retail and food innovation before I adjust my focus to an exhibitor at the conference in Paris.

Sustainability

This has been a hot topic in the food industry for a long time and probably always will be. Sustainability can mean different things to different people but in its simplest form it’s a means to ensuring that we have longevity in supply of food. That can be achieved through fair wages and working conditions, exploring renewable energies or protecting the environment that produces the food. I wrote on this subject in a previous blog and in particular about how manufacturers are turning away from organisations, like the Fairtrade Foundation, in search of a more effective way of creating a sustainable supply chain.

In commercial terms, sustainability is still important to shoppers which can be evidenced from campaigns like The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not. Suppliers should be mindful of their sustainability stance and can use it for commercial gain such as the multiple retailers’ adoption of ‘wonky veg’ to win hearts and minds.

Food Waste

I touched on this point briefly above but, as odd as this may sound, the management of food waste is becoming more and more trendy. This is partly driven by social awareness and hardship programs like Fair Share and also a socio-economic drive to stop throwing money down the drain through negligence and ignorance.

This trend has seen brands such as Toast Ale, beer made from surplus bread, to emerge. Now, I’m not claiming this is a new trend, far from it; the practice has existed for hundreds of years since fruit manufacturers wanted to preserve their wares in sugar to make jam or potato farmers wanted an outlet for surplus potatoes in a snacking format. What I am saying is that this concept and story is now becoming a commercial opportunity.

Dot Com

Online food shopping is something that has been growing steadily year after year in the UK but there has to be a significant leap forward in the near future that will be a game changer. If I was a betting man I’d say that is more than likely going to come from Jeff Bezos et al over at Amazon where drones are already lining up laden with groceries. Amazon will steal a march on the grocery sector, it’s just a matter of time.

For now, companies like Deliveroo will continue to innovate and do things differently and better than before but surely no one can beat the Amazonian beast to the online food retailing crown?

Flavour Trends

Flavour trends are really difficult to predict and if I could tell you the difference between a flash in the pan and a sticky trend I’d be a very rich man!

Flavour and food trends tend to be driven by social elements like which holiday destinations are popular at the time and therefore it changes frequently, almost on a yearly basis. One trend that is definitely here to stay in the UK is provenance. We are still obsessed by where our food comes from to keep a check on traceability and quality.

Health is still prominent on the trend agenda in the UK and the movement over the last 18 months has seen protein come into the limelight. Is this trend a sticky one? I think not but only time will tell.

Now that my soap box is well worn, I’ll introduce my SIAL 2016 exhibitor focus for today…

Coldpress

Who are they?

Coldpress is the product of Andrew and Bradley’s desire to bring the food industry into the 21st Century by improving production methods to produce a tastier, healthier and more sustainable foods. The business’ ethos is literally about taking the heat out of the production process

Why are they innovative?

This is easy. Two things: process and packaging. I’m a big believer in brands finding ways to ‘pop’ off the shelf and I think the iconic hexagonal bottles achieve that. The process is Coldpress’ raison d’etre and gives the product life. The packaging allows the drink to speak for itself and is the main selling space.

Why should you love them?

Again, this is easy. The taste. The product delivery is just fantastic. Whether you buy into their mission to revolutionise the drinks manufacturing process you’ll definitely buy into their flavours – in fact I’m drinking one right now as I write this if you must know! So, do yourself a favour: put down the concentrate and pick up the Coldpress.

Details: www.cold-press.com

SIAL Location: JK 042 National Pavilions and Regions of the World

So all that leaves me to ask is what are your food or retail trends for 2017 that you want to highlight? Come on people, sharing is caring.

Northern Munkee.

Dairy Free Drinks…

Focus on SIAL: Rebel Kitchen

Over the next week I will be focussing my attentions on Paris and SIAL: the world’s largest food innovation exhibition.

Innovation is the lifeblood of food retail as it drives new shoppers, new interests, new sales and new opportunities. There has been a plethora of game changing innovations over the last few years that have redefined food retailing in one way or another: bottled water, the shelf check-out, home delivery, micro-meals, vaping…the list is endless.

So, in the spirit of SIAL, I’m going to give my view of the world of retail and food innovation before I adjust my focus to an exhibitor at the conference in Paris.

Sustainability

This has been a hot topic in the food industry for a long time and probably always will be. Sustainability can mean different things to different people but in its simplest form it’s a means to ensuring that we have longevity in supply of food. That can be achieved through fair wages and working conditions, exploring renewable energies or protecting the environment that produces the food. I wrote on this subject in a previous blog and in particular about how manufacturers are turning away from organisations, like the Fairtrade Foundation, in search of a more effective way of creating a sustainable supply chain.

In commercial terms, sustainability is still important to shoppers which can be evidenced from campaigns like The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not. Suppliers should be mindful of their sustainability stance and can use it for commercial gain such as the multiple retailers’ adoption of ‘wonky veg’ to win hearts and minds.

Food Waste

I touched on this point briefly above but, as odd as this may sound, the management of food waste is becoming more and more trendy. This is partly driven by social awareness and hardship programs like Fair Share and also a socio-economic drive to stop throwing money down the drain through negligence and ignorance.

This trend has seen brands such as Toast Ale, beer made from surplus bread, to emerge. Now, I’m not claiming this is a new trend, far from it; the practice has existed for hundreds of years since fruit manufacturers wanted to preserve their wares in sugar to make jam or potato farmers wanted an outlet for surplus potatoes in a snacking format. What I am saying is that this concept and story is now becoming a commercial opportunity.

Dot Com

Online food shopping is something that has been growing steadily year after year in the UK but there has to be a significant leap forward in the near future that will be a game changer. If I was a betting man I’d say that is more than likely going to come from Jeff Bezos et al over at Amazon where drones are already lining up laden with groceries. Amazon will steal a march on the grocery sector, it’s just a matter of time.

For now, companies like Deliveroo will continue to innovate and do things differently and better than before but surely no one can beat the Amazonian beast to the online food retailing crown?

Flavour Trends

Flavour trends are really difficult to predict and if I could tell you the difference between a flash in the pan and a sticky trend I’d be a very rich man!

Flavour and food trends tend to be driven by social elements like which holiday destinations are popular at the time and therefore it changes frequently, almost on a yearly basis. One trend that is definitely here to stay in the UK is provenance. We are still obsessed by where our food comes from to keep a check on traceability and quality.

Health is still prominent on the trend agenda in the UK and the movement over the last 18 months has seen protein come into the limelight. Is this trend a sticky one? I think not but only time will tell.

Now that my soap box is well worn, I’ll introduce my SIAL 2016 exhibitor focus for today…

northernmunkeebites-rebelkitchen1

Rebel Kitchen

Who are they?

Rebel Kitchen is a husband (Ben) and wife (Tamara) team on a food mission that can be best summed up by their story: A permanent healthy state of rebellion means we’re always seeking newer and better ways of doing things. Reject ‘how it is’; tell the ‘that’ll never workers’ where to go and never settle.

The brand is very on trend and acts as the physical embodiment of the health movement within the UK at the moment.

Why are they innovative?

Rebel Kitchen is riding on the crest of a wave of a coconut-health trend and making all the right moves. The flavours aren’t overly complicated but they deliver against a healthy shoppers expectations and they even make the transition into the mainstream shopping basket through clever and effective branding.

Now, I’m not your stereotypical coconutter but Rebel Kitchen’s Mylks are just brilliant. There isn’t anything pretentious about them. It’s just good quality drinking.

Why should you love them?

Rebel Kitchen’s success, in my opinion, is down to the cleverly crafted brand identity. The principles put in place by Ben and Tamara have set a solid platform to build a product portfolio and a movement that will be around for a while.

I’ve passed judgement on some healthy foods in previous blogs which have completely missed the point and forgotten to be, firstly, great tasting. This is where Rebel Kitchen differ: they are starting with great food and making sure it’s simple and good for you. Good work!

Details: www.rebel-kitchen.com

SIAL Location: 2L 047 National Pavilions and Regions of the World

So all that leaves me to ask is what are your food or retail trends for 2017 that you want to highlight? Come on people, sharing is caring.

Northern Munkee.

Ice to meet you…

Product Review: Charbrew Lemon Citrus Ice Tea

Now I should admit that this is more of a summer-time post but I was inspired when I went for a breakfast meeting with a friend in London this week.

The tea market in the UK is going backwards drastically with the trendy coffee houses fuelling the growth of origin-conscious coffee consumers which has brought about the shift in ‘share of throat’ (this was an awful phrase that suppliers used to use when I bought the Hot Beverages category). However Team Tea are fighting back and it’s the added value and more experimental flavours that are clawing back it’s popularity.

Charbrew is one example of a tea company leading the way to win back British hearts for the humble tea leaf (no cockney rhyming slang intended). Charbrew have a whole range of interesting and innovative flavours that can suit any drinking occasion. On the back of that, Charbrew have exploded into the soft drinks market with their own ice tea focussing on no added sugar and all natural ingredients, setting it apart from its tooth-hating competitor, Lipton.

Review: 9/10

Appeals to: tea-lovers, thirst quenchers and the health conscious

Packaging

The team at Charbrew have done a great job with their branding picking out all the key cues on pack. The imagery gives the product a sense that the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously but delivers simple, natural flavours. The bold colours utilised make sure that the product stands out in a sea of noise that is the soft drinks fixture.

Price

£1.69 – this is a higher price point than other drinks of this size from large manufacturers but this is a completely different proposition and would appeal to a different shopper. A product that sells at this price also puts value back into a heavily traded category so, I say, let the big boys fight it out at £1!

Delivery

I have to admit that I am, predominantly, a coffee drinker but this is spot on! It tastes fresh, clean and satisfying. The density of the tea flavours are lifted by the light lemon tones.

Verdict – in a word, spoton (that’s not cheating)! This is a soft drink for any time of day and any time of year. Just imagine, you’re sat out on your decking. The sun is high and the air is still. ‘Gimme Shelter’ is on the radio and you’ve got a cool glass of Charbrew Ice Tea in hand – spoton!

Details: http://www.charbrew.com

Northern Munkee.