Twistd is a new brand of ambient sachets and meal pots that is hoping to smash the uncool perception of the category. Created to target the millennial crowd, it focuses on world flavours and health.
Launching into Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s this month, it was dreamed up by UK snack manufacturer Symington’s and is backed by 12 months of research and product development.
“We are seeing lots of trends and insights about how consumers now, and certainly millennials, are more well travelled than ever before and are experiencing new flavours in travels,” Kevin Butterworth, marketing director at Symington’s, tells Food Spark.
“Ambient makes it convenient to access these world flavours and it’s a huge trend across grocery. Essentially, people are more adventurous with what they want to eat and the idea for the research we did was the global larder. So we have a real diverse range of flavours targeting a number of categories, including Tunisia, Greece, Japan, Morocco and India.”
While familiar cuisines like Thai and Mexican also made the cut, Butterworth explains the company wanted to push into emerging trends too, like Korean and Nigerian food. Every format and flavour went through consumer sensory testing, from texture to smell to taste.
Symington’s hasn’t been shy about going big either, with 25 Twistd products hitting shelves. Couscous sachets come in flavours like Sicilian Zesty Lemon & Sunflower Seeds and Tuscan Sundried Tomato, while risottos get experimental with variants like English Real Ale & Mushroom and Malaysian Rendang. Four snack pots consist of options like Mexican Chilli Beans & Rice and Thai Green Curry with Rice & Red Lentil.
Jumping on the grain train, Symington’s has stuffed many of its products with these on-trend ingredients. There are super sachets filled with options like Southern French Garlic & Red Onion Couscous and Bulgar Wheat & Lentils, as well as express grains and pulse pouches that include Tunisian Chickpea, Beans & Bulgar Wheat and Peruvian Smokey Grains, Wild Rice & Bulgar Wheat. World-flavoured rice rounds out the range with six SKUS, including: Korean BBQ, Nigerian Jollof and Jamaican Rice & Pea.
Packaging and design are important to the Twistd range’s target audience, with Butterworth saying Symington’s wanted to bring an injection of colour into the category to draw a strong impact on shelves.
There is already a two-year innovation pipeline in place too, with plans to launch more into the range once it becomes established.
Making ambient healthy
While convenience is the crowning glory of the ambient category, Butterworth says ambient can also play a role in health. A big focus during development of the Twistd brand was to ensure the products were low fat, vegetarian, high fibre and high protein, or could count as one or two of the five a day. Some products and flavours didn’t make the cut if they didn’t hit certain health credentials.
“With the Twistd brand, you can have great taste and it can also be a better-for-you product,” he says. “There are natural ingredients like spelt, buckwheat and lentils that are a great way for consumers to either get fibre or protein. It was an important part of the range as consumer are searching for products that contain healthy ingredients and a shortcut to health.”
Butterworth believes ambient products have become stale, with many of the brands targeting older consumers – like millennials’ parents – rather than the crowd that tends to graze throughout the day.
“As generations pass by, cooking skills become less and less, and we felt this was an opportunity to add colour, culture and real impact within the category,” he explains.
“We didn’t think anyone was doing world flavours as well as can be done. There are brands playing around with it, but we felt there was an opportunity to dial that up... Millennials are eating little and often, therefore products like these sachets and snack pots are something that can be eaten pre-gym, post-gym, before bed and before they go out.”
Surprisingly, American cuisine didn’t rate with British consumers during the research for Twistd, though it will feature as part of a new concept being unveiled by Symington’s in a few months.
“We are going to be launching a new-to-category wet soup into a retailer in August, which will be a range of five... We did manage to get one for the US cuisine around a clam chowder soup, but apart from that consumers felt it had been done before. You can see a lot of sticky ribs and other American cuisine on the market already and consumers felt it to be a less exciting,” he explains.
“We tried a Japanese shitake mushroom, but we couldn’t get the flavour right, and when we tested it with consumers it was way below scoring. In terms of health, taste, texture and smell, it didn’t pass those hurdles.”