Wednesday, 19 September 2018

 

Innovation is key in the frozen fries specialties, according to Mohammed Essa (pictured), commercial director, Aviko UK & Ireland, with whom I talked in this interview about new products, market behavior and strategy. 

By Dan Orehov

How do you see the market for potato products evolving in the next couple of years?

Innovation is key – there is increased pressure on operators to switch up their sides and offer customers something different while meeting a whole range of global food and health trends. For instance, we’ve seen sweet potato grow in popularity in recent years – as demonstrated by the success of our Sweet Potato Fries. Never a company to rest on its laurels, we’ve looked at how we can continue to meet this demand but bring something different to the market. We’ve recently launched Aviko’s Sweet Potato Diced and Sweet Potato Gratins. It’s about helping customers keep their offering current and stand out from the competition.

What are the current market trends concerning fried processed potatoes, including French fries varieties? What do consumers prefer?

Demand for sweet potato – including fries – is at an all-time high. Aviko’s research shows that 66% of UK consumers think there should be more sweet potato options on menus. This is due to a variety of reasons including a third of consumers believing sweet potato is healthier, 30% prefer the taste and 23% simply opting for something different when dining out-of-home. The demand for sweet potato fries has really grown out-of-home in recent years and it is showing no signs of slowing especially as a staggering 66% of UK consumers think there are currently not enough sweet potato options available. The growing appeal of sweet potato demonstrates it is an opportune time for the market to make the most of this key trend and appeal to a wide group of diners looking for a healthier option.

How do you approach the changes in consumer behavior, leaning towards free-from products or ingredients, such as salt, oil or similar?

Our research shows that nearly half of people are more likely to choose a restaurant which offers gluten-free dishes, as well as opt for a gluten-free dish and 60% of people choose to eat gluten-free for its perceived health benefits and lifestyle reasons. This demand extends to chips – which aren’t always gluten-free due to the coating. Aviko has responded to this by offering a comprehensive range of gluten-free sides in its Premium Fries range (Superlong, Supercrunch and Sweet Potato Fries), Wedges (Skin On, Skin Off, Crinkle, Tex Mex, Garlic & Herb and Mega), Mashed Potato, Hash Browns, Gratins and Mini Gratins, as well as Roast, Diced, Sauté and Jacket Potatoes. We consider ourselves a partner to the market and this doesn’t stop with supplying quality products. On our website www.aviko.co.uk we have a whole host of recipes, top tips, facts, hints and product information to help boost free-from menus.

Which are your company’s core markets around the world, for distributing/selling the products in your portfolio? What is your strategy regarding expansion?

Europe remains a core market for Aviko and we continue to be successful in our homeland of Holland, Germany and the United Kingdom. We experience particular success in the fast-casual dining sector which continue to be robust in an unpredictable pre-Brexit market, as consumers look to have greater value when dining out. Last year we took our chef standard products and launched into the UK convenience retail market – making Aviko now the fastest growing frozen potato brand in the UK. Our strategy for expansion is to work closely with our customers to drive the category forward, supporting it with NPD, as well as investment in digital marketing, social media and sampling – so watch this space!

You can read more in our print magazine Potato Processing International (Apr/May)! 



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