Hartley’s, Mackays, St Dalfour, Bonne Maman – these are among the handful of names that dominate the jam and marmalade aisles at the country’s major supermarkets, sitting securely beside own-brand lines and the occasional jar of Streamline for those watching their figure (and sugar intake).
The flavours are ones Brits have been eating for decades, from steadfast strawberry to reliable raspberry. That’s why ScandiKitchen thinks its three-strong range of jams has a good shout at infiltrating the market, starting with Ocado, where the jars launched in September.
“The jam category has traditionally been the domain of a few large players along with some very talented local producers,” a spokesperson for the brand tells Food Spark. “Supermarket shelves are dominated by the former and own labels, and the independent sector by the latter – the one thing uniting the two is that they used the same variety of berries.
“We want to showcase the best of the Nordics, and this is some of the best we have: 55% fruit and with as little sugar added as possible.”
ScandiKitchen is predominantly known as a seller of Nordic goods. Want your Moomin sweets or Kalles Kaviar cod roe? You’ll find them either at the company’s brick-and-mortar store in West London or online, sold alongside gravlax and rye breads.
The shop also has a select range of own-brand items, including its new lingonberry, cloudberry and bilberry jams, made from foraged wild fruit.
“We have noted a dramatic increase in interest in our range of Nordic products, both in the independent sector, where we have hundreds of stockists, and online, where our range has consistently shown strong double-digit growth over the past few years – both on Ocado and Amazon,” says a spokesperson.
As a result, ScandiKitchen has plans to release “an extensive range of new products” in the next six to nine months.
The premium jams aim to provide not just novelty, but also a healthy twist thanks to the presence of various vitamins and antioxidants. Lingonberries in particular have been described as helping to block weight gain, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Other small-scale brands have been experimenting with how to bolster the nutritional aspect too. Innocently Indulgent by the Jam Goddess, for instance, throws chia seeds in with its traditional fruits to lend its products a healthy halo.
While supermarkets might be conservative with their jams, delis and other independent businesses are chock-full of playful takes on British spreads. At the Speciality & Fine Food Fair in September, quirky condiments were among the most prevalent items on show.
Chilli jams in particular are a popular area of experimentation. Single Variety Co. produce options made from lemon drop, jalapeno and Anaheim chillies, while Patchwork adds a bit of pepper piquancy to its mushroom marmalades. On Ocado, shoppers have a choice of Eat17’s chilli bacon as well as Harvey Nichols’ ginger and chilli.
Harvey Nichols has also been layering on the luxury with champagne-infused preserves, though brands such as Radnor and Jam & Tipple add a greater breadth of alcohol flavourings to their wares, from clementine and Cointreau to poached pear and mulled wine.
How about it, Sparkie, are you getting high off the boozy fumes?
With jams and preserves, there are more than enough companies producing them. As a retail category, however, it most certainly does need some updating. Wandering down the aisle of my local Tesco just gets you the same four to five flavours by about four or five different brands.
Using traditional wild berries would be very on trend right now. I have no doubt that some of the brands you see in the delis around the county would do equally well in a retailer, but they just struggle to break into that shelf space due to the imposed monopoly a handful of brands seem to have.