When Brands Re-Brand!

Who remembers when Opal Fruits crossed the picket line and became Starburst? When Marathon Bars left the track and became Snickers? Or when Oil of Ulay shocked us all by becoming Olay? Brands rebrand all the time. Sometimes it’s a simple refresh to remain relevant or signal a slight change in direction and sometimes it’s a complete departure from the name and the established brand. I’m sure that none of these decisions were made lightly and I’m sure every concept and subtle nuance were focus-grouped to within an inch of their life – it’s a big deal right. Businesses can spend vast sums of money building brand assets and equity so it’s not an easy decision to go back to the drawing board; however sometimes it may be absolutely necessary.

This post takes me back to the theme of brand building for food businesses. I’m not going to talk about the food itself (although it is awesome) because I’ve written a number of posts in the past about my love of jerky and biltong; instead this post is going critique the decisions on rebranding that Meat Snacks Group recently implement across their range…enjoy!

Wild West Jerky & Cruga Biltong

northernmunkeebites.wildwestjerkyoldWhat was wrong with the old branding?

Well, nothing really. It has good shelf impact. It’s simple. It has traditional and trusted cues that are relevant to the food. It has a window to allow the shopper to see the food. The brand has been careful to call out important nutritional information: protein and no nasties. So, what’s the big deal? My criticism of this platform is that it’s a bit brash, bold and dated. Although it does a lot of good things a brand needs to remain relevant to its audience and if there’s a shift in who that is then the brand needs to address that.

Was there a need to rebrand?

Yes. The meat snacking market in the UK has moved on significantly in the last three years and the target audience has shifted. When I was still active and playing sport I was the typical jerky and biltong consumer: a gym junky with a need for a high protein (yet tasty) snack. Although this consumer still exists there is a swell of early-adopting foodies that are coming to the table. So if the paradigm has moved brands need to move too.

What’s so good about the new branding?

Well, firstly it’s being considerate of the new paradigm with dialled down but still northernmunkeebites.jerkyrebrandappropriate imagery and colour palette. Big tick. Secondly, it’s kept all the good parts of the old branding and it’s managed to maintain a sufficient number of the old brand assets that it won’t completely alienate the brand’s existing fan base. Finally, the branding has morphed subtly into being more appropriate; what was ‘solid strips of marinated smoked beef’ has become ‘beef silverside marinated, smoked and cooked’. Lovely stuff!

Could they have done anything differently?

No, I don’t think they could. If the aim was to develop a brand that didn’t completely alienate existing users but would excite and intrigue new users then: job done!

Verdict – in a word, boom! If you’re Meat Snacks Group you’ve got to be really chuffed with this. It’s been a bit under the radar (much like the new imagery) but it has reacted to competition in the marketplace and stolen a march at the front again. Well played!

Northern Munkee.

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Gosh Being a Fussy Eater CAN be Simple!

I’m not sure about you but I for one am getting weary of the cornerstones of healthy eating is to cook everything from scratch. Do not get me wrong, I 100% believe that the benefits of taking raw ingredients and creating a nutritious dish with your own hands is one of the pleasures of life.  Cooking this way provides numerous benefits; you know what you’re eating, you’re not exposed to (more) pesticides, it’s less expensive plus one of the main perks is the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you do manage to create something that looks great and tastes fantastic.

However sometimes I don’t have time to wash, cut, chop, sauté, marinade, cook, season and then add the final flair of presentation to the dish with a touch of basil. Sometimes I just want to come home after a busy day at work and know there’s something in the kitchen that won’t take me long to cook.

Yet whilst the retail food industry is definitely looking at the ingredients it puts into its products now, it’s still full of those sneaky little ingredients that are just not good for you. A food item that sounds healthy is suddenly causing sweats when you turn over the packet and look at the ingredients – sugar, fructose, starch and then if you have intolerances and allergies you see the words wheat/mustard/dairy/fish sauce which makes you drop the packet quicker than a hot potato.  Finding simple food products that don’t have these pesky add-ons proves difficult.

So when you find a food product or brand that caters to your every digestive whim, it takes a lot of restraint not to go wild and purchase in bulk. I randomly stumbled over the Gosh brand and it fit my criteria perfectly.

northernmunkeebites.ohmygoshGosh Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites

Rating: 9/10

Appeals to: free-from lovers, vegetarians, healthy-conscious eaters and anybody else who fancies a quick bite

Packaging

It was actually the packaging that caught my eye as I was browsing the supermarket shelves. The slightly quirky sleeve and bright orange colour jumps out with the large font of the brand name Gosh making you do a double swivel of your eyes.  What I really liked as well is that you could see the product as clear packaging peeps over the top of the sleeve.  I liked the fact I could see what I’d be eating rather than it being fully covered in a cardboard sleeve.  Easy to read information on the front and back tells you immediately this is safe for allergy/intolerance sufferers to eat.  For me the ingredients list is simple and quick to run your eyes over quickly.

Price

£2.50 (based on Tesco’s pricing).  I’ve become so used to paying more for allergy-free products that when I see a product that’s reasonably priced it makes me think huh? But this is a very fair price for a product that is simple and tastes good.

Delivery

I was expecting a dense, slightly tough texture when I bought these so was really (pleasantly) surprised that these were soft and oh so chewy. To say they are tasty is an understatement – these little babies are so moorish.  I could have eaten the full pack in one go but had to restrain myself.  The flavours of harissa and paprika are just enough not to overwhelm the product and add that little bit of spice.  I’ve had these on three or four occasions now all in different dishes, and each time I just look forward to popping one of these in my mouth.  Delicious!

Verdict – in a word, simple. These are worth every penny, quick to cook, simple ingredients and delicious to eat. For those, like me, who have to be careful about the ingredients they eat, this product is one of the very few that I can stock up on and be relieved that when I get home from work there’s something quick to pop in the oven, fills me up and goes with a variety of dishes.  I would definitely recommend these without hesitation.

Details: www.goshfreefrom.co.uk

Feel free to leave your thoughts below after you’ve tasted them – always open to different opinions!

Guest Blogger: Mrs M.

About Me

As a person with a recently diagnosed sensitive digestive system, I’m now on a path to make sure I eat well whilst still enjoying myself. Having been fearful of food, I now love finding new products, going to new restaurants to try new twists on dishes and am constantly looking for quirky items to consume.  I’m a huge supporter of simple food that is made tasty with the right combination of ingredients and more importantly enjoying your food and diet in a balanced way.  That means I always have room for my favourite item – chocolate!

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.

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: healthy, on-the-hoof snackers and early adopters

Packaging

There is nothing else like this in the mainstream marketplace so Bounce needs to stand out and it certainly achieves that. The packaging is vibrant, bright and simple and will definitely appeal to its target market. The one miss, in my view, is in portraying what the food actually is. If I’m honest I didn’t know what I was opening apart from I knew it was a healthy, protein ball. If you’re already bought into the concept of Bounce snacks then you will go looking for it and be able to find it but I’d question whether a teetering shopper would be swayed to trial without knowing what’s inside.

Price

£1.42 – this price point goes further to establishing what the product actually is and where it should sit in store. This would look out of place next to a 40g packet of crisps but sit comfortably in the healthy snacking arena in between nut mixes and baked oat bars.

Delivery

Surprisingly brilliant. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened my first Bounce ball. I was presented with what I can only describe as a multi-textured, dense pebble. So I was still sceptical.

However, once I’d worked my way through my first bite I could instantly understand the popularity of this brand. The producers have managed to create a symphony of delicate flavours in a very small package; but the best thing about it was: I was full. This is the perfect pre-workout/post-workout/3pm slump at your desk/hungover-need-food snack!

Verdict – in a word, serendipitous! If you’re not familiar with the concept of Energy Balls, as I wasn’t, then it does require a leap of faith but I would urge you to take that dive. There is a huge need for great tasting functional snacks to cater for the lifestyle managing masses and suppliers are following over themselves to meet it; I think Bounce have certainly found their path!

Details: http://www.uk.bouncefoods.com

 Northern Munkee.

Food Review of Christmas 2016

Well, the decorations should now be stuffed back into the loft, the ‘good’ cutlery should have returned to hibernation and the last scraps of turkey should have been consumed. Christmas 2016 is done.

So I want to take this opportunity to look back at my personal Christmas and some of the brilliant food discoveries I made…

Preparation is Everything 

northernmunkeebites.roastpots.JPG

If you speak to Mrs Munkee, she’ll tell you that I can get quite stressed in the kitchen. If there’s ever a moment when I run out of workspace it’s just not worth being in the vicinity for fear of a passive aggressive torrent of abuse. So, this year, as a pre-emptive strike, I sought advice from Master Chef DGH on how to reduce the work on the big day.

I already do the majority of the vegetable preparations the day before but the gem I will keep with me for life is freezing roast potatoes. As well as being a god-send for timing on the day these were the best spuds I’ve ever tasted; a brilliant sweet, crispy and fluffy tatty!

Here’s DGH’s recipe.

Your Turkey Needs Good Friends 

If you’re like me you’ll see the benefit of investing in a quality bird however if you’re going to surround it with sub-standard accompaniments then you might as well pluck and roast a sparrow.

I would always recommend making as much as you can manage from scratch however, we all know that a little help in December is welcomed. So here are a couple of fantastic products that did my meal proud:

Mr Crumb Stuffing

northernmunkeebites.mrcrumb.JPG

I can understand if you’re offended by the idea of buying in stuffing, I get it; but you’d be wrong.

This stuffing is superb. It is light, multi-textured, fresh and, best of all, very easy to do. Having this on my Christmas table offered a great sweet, spicy juxtaposition to juicy turkey.

Heck Festive Baubles

northernmunkeebites.heckchick.JPG

I first came across this company on an Alex Polizzi (check spelling) documentary and, it I’m honest, the show didn’t put them in the best light. If you take that as you’re only interaction with Heck then I feel sorry for you because their meat is phenomenal.

Heck produced a fresh meat selection just for Christmas called Baubles. These are little meatballs of high quality, high meat, high flavour greatness! One of my favourite elements of the Christmas meal are the pigs in blankets but I didn’t need them this year!

Merry Twixmas 

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look forward to Twixmas, that joyous period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve when the world is still sleepy and we believe that we’re obliged to eat ALL the food in the house!

The question is, though, how do we make that Twixmas period extra special without completing the unthinkable task of leaving the house? This is what I did…

Just the Jelly 

northernmunkeebites-justthejelly

I love these little pots and I’ll tell you for why: their versatility. If you haven’t experienced this concept before they’re a rich jelly infusion with fantastically concentrated flavours. This year I used them as a meat accompaniment, a cheese accompaniment, a soup enhancer and a gravy enhancer!

Casa de Mont 

northernmunkeebites.cdm.JPG

I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve salivated over these beauties and done nothing about it; but I decided this year I was going all out!

Not only is this ham incredibly tasty and last forever (slight exaggeration) but it also makes an impressive centre piece. I think I’ve started a new Twixmas tradition!

So, that’s enough turkey and tinsel reminiscing for one year. I love hearing from you all so leave me a comment below and let me know your fantastic festive food finds!

Northern Munkee.

Tangy, Sweet and Savoury Snacking…

Focus on SIAL: Poptang

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…

Yumsh Snacks

Who are they?

Poptang is a product of Yumsh Snacks who are the creative minds behind the compelling 10 Acre range. The company is based in Manchester and their mission is to provide great snacks to the freefrom market. As a Northern foodie I can’t help but endorse Yumsh Snacks’ story and mission; they also boast some great foods to back up their brilliant brands.

Why are they innovative?

Popcorn is a fairly humble and simple food that has been on an amazing adventure over the last few years and Poptang represents another twist on that road.

It’s incredible to think of the flavours that you can now harness into popped corn and who would have thought that the sticky sweet goodness of Tango would work so well on lightly popped popcorn? This sweet/savoury/tangy combination is a great addition to the snack shelf and this licensed partnership may well be the saviour of mainstream popcorn.

Why should you love them?

Well, for a kick-off, they’re Northern, so that’s a big tick there! On a more serious note it’s their ‘why’ that I fell in love with . Anyone who follows my blog knows that I’m obsessed by branding and fascinated by what makes an effective brand work. For me, Yumsh Snacks works because of its why and how they make its branding speaks directly to its customers.

Details: www.yumshsnacks.com

SIAL Location: TL 013 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.

The Secret to Proper Paleo Snacking…

Focus on SIAL: Ape Snacks

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…

Ape Snacks

Who are they?

To quote their mission statement Ape Snacks are ‘about being awesome’ and ‘on a mission to make snacking better’. Ape Snacks is the inspiration of Zack, a patron of the paleo, who became disheartened by the lack of credible snacking options available to him and his family. Zack has an incredible story and one that a lot of people can relate to – it’s half the charm of the brand.

Why are they innovative?

The coconut craze has not been a quiet one and you can now do almost anything with it: cook it, drink it, eat it or even wear it. However, the attempts to convert this craze into a healthy and, more importantly, tasty snack have been fruitless.

Ape Snacks now offers an accessible coconut snacking product that will appeal to the weight management masses as well as the snack seekers.

Why should you love them?

In my opinion the art of these products is in the branding. It oozes personality and very quickly communicates the products’ key features. The snacking category is a difficult one to enter successfully but here is a truly innovative product with a great story; this one should stick.

Details: www.apesnacks.com

SIAL Location: KL 062 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.

Pimp My Egg…

Product Review: Crackin’ Egg Co

Snacking is one of the fastest moving and most lucrative categories in food retailing; it’s constantly evolving where we, as consumers, become increasingly time poor and demand a more portable, convenient repertoire.

A cornucopia producers from multinational corporations to startisans have sought for new ways to steal a share of the market. This quest has seen a number of innovations hit the market place over the last ten years with health taking a leading role in terms of the snacking shoppers’ needs. However, as I’ve mentioned before, in this category TASTE IS KING. A successful snacking product needs to be firstly, great tasting and secondly, healthy. The era of Slimming World punishment eating has gone and health conscious shoppers and snackers are making lifestyle changes not short, sharp shocks to the system.

This review presents the ultimate in the cusp of the snacking trend. It takes the uber-convenience of a ready-to-eat boiled egg and pimps it! It is the definition of taste meets convenience.

Here’s what I thought…

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: gym junkies, health conscious, time-poor snackers

Packaging

I really like the packaging and branding. It’s not over the top but it’s targeted right at the early-adopter target audience with a matte cardboard sleeve that provides good shelf presence when it’s compared to other similar products on the market. The producers have also been careful to call out cues that are important to the snackers they are targeting: low GI, low in carbs, GF. The cleverest thing about the packaging, in my opinion, is the egg itself. Want to grab someone’s attention? Do an Avatar and paint yourself bright blue!

Plus there are some egg-cellent egg-based puns on-pack and who can resist joining a pun-off, even if it’s just for the crack?

Price

£1.59 – now if you sit there and work out the value in comparison to pack of a dozen eggs then you’ll be disappointed, but don’t do that. This price is for two eggs, which is an ample snack. If you compare it to other things being bought as snacks this is bang in-line with where it should be. Plus you can often pick them up on promotion at 2 for £2.50.

Delivery

Brilliant. I am already a fan of hard-boiled egg; whether they’re fresh or pickled I love them and they were a staple of my diet many moons ago when I played sport. However, this is taking them to the next level.

The flavour sachets add a depth to the flavour and lift the fleshy egg textures. There is always a danger that you drown the egg but this has been portioned just right. This is a great substitute for any other mid-afternoon snack and I’d take these over a bland sponge cake any time!

Verdict – in a word, egg-squisite (sorry!)! This is a great example of how fast-paced and alive the snacking category is and Crackin’ Egg Co have fit perfectly into the mould of what people expect: healthy, tasty and convenient. Great work Egg Men!

Northern Munkee.