Will white corn be Grupo Bimbo’s key to UK success?

The world’s largest bakery business made their first foray into the UK market earlier this month with the launch of Mexican white corn crackers into Sainsbury’s

28 February 2020
bakerygrainshealthLatin AmericanMexicansnacking

We haven’t touched on Mexican for while here at Food Spark, with our attention quite taken by the growing number of lesser-seen South American cuisines entering into the UK over the past year or so.

Dishes and ingredients from the likes of Venezuela and Peru have started to perforate the mainstream, both in retail and foodservice, with Mexican cuisine rather upstaged (but certainly not replaced) in terms of new and exciting food developments of late.

However, with the entry of the world’s largest bakery business - Grupo Bimbo - into the UK this month, Mexican has re-entered the spotlight, with the company’s chosen launch product (from sub-brand Sanissimo Salmas) being a duo of Mexican-style corn crackers.

Both flavours – original and chia and flax seed – are made with white corn rather than yellow, with the latter certainly the corn of choice for the majority of existing retail brands available in the UK.

Speaking to our colleagues at British Baker, Grupo Bimbo brands marketing head Kate Haskins said that the Sanissimo Salmas range is “so on-trend”, with the cracker duo fairing well in terms of consumer research.

Bimbo’s target audience, said Haskins, are foodies rather than dieters, with the use of white corn arguably the key to capturing the imagination of today’s curious UK consumer. 

White hot?

The importance of authenticity cannot be understated in today’s retail environment, with the growth of consumer interest with lesser-known flavours and ingredients from global cuisines creating a demand for strong brand stories and a focus on ingredient origins.

“It is very authentic – it’s the kind of product people are eating in Mexico on a daily basis like we might eat bread,” said Haskins of the Sanissimo Salmas corn cracker range. “And it has a great brand story; it was a small business Grupo Bimbo bought in Mexico about 20 years ago and it is very much part of the Mexican diet.”

Snacking has exploded in the UK and healthy eating is a huge driver across NPD. Recent Kantar stats revealed that, between 2017 and 2019, there was a 33.4% increase in the number of buyers of healthy snacks in the UK.

Sanissimo Salmas’ crackers sync up with current healthy eating trends, with each pack of three crackers containing between 65 and 70 calories. They are also made of only four ingredients (with whole grain white corn flour making up 97%), and are vegan friendly and gluten-free.

Taste remains the outstanding consumer purchasing driver in retail, with white corn said to provide a different flavour profile than yellow, with authenticity once again a big factor.

“White corn is what people in Mexico will use to make their tortillas or crackers,” continued Haskins. “It has a slightly different flavour profile but is delicious. It is an ancient grain – there has been no cross-breeding or modification because it just does what it needs to.”

“If you speak to Mexicans, they will tell you yellow corn is kind of the ‘Tex-Mex’ corn of choice. It’s sweeter than white corn and is what you would expect an average tortilla chip to be made from."

Grupo Bimbo have also installed specific ovens for baking the product in the UK, with an open flame key to providing a crunchy texture and smoky, charred finish.  

“The ovens we have installed are something else entirely,” said Haskins. “From a company in the UK that’s used to nice, controlled ovens, we are baking there over live flames. It is something else to watch!”

Sparkie says…

Spot on product for the authentic food drive that we have been discussing heavily. A product that most people will be unaware of but still familiar enough that it won't trigger the neophobic nature of some people.

Throwing the chia and flax in there is a good move as that will give even further recognition to people that this isn't something that they need to be wary of while also tying into health food trends.

The white corn aspect of it is a nice, relatively safe bit of market differentiation. It is just enough to tap into consumer curiosity. This is a product positioned to play off the majority of the current consumer food trends so it should do well.

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