Food is getting frightful as it’s that time of year when spooky NPD rolls out for Halloween. While this seasonal event is most popular in America, it’s increasingly capturing consumer imaginations in the UK.
GlobalData’s report revealed that Halloween food was most shopped part of the category with 75.4% of people buying products in the UK last year. According to research by Mintel, the British public was forecast to spend £419m on Halloween in 2018, up 5% from £400m the year before. Meanwhile, figures from Statista showed that 40% of consumers bought Halloween chocolate and sweets and 18% purchased a pumpkin in 2017.
“After Christmas, Halloween is the second-biggest occasion in the candy [sugar confectionery] category, so it is an important date in the calendar for retailers,” Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelēz International, told Talking Retail. “Its popularity as a season shows no sign of slowing down, with total Halloween confectionery sales up by 1.3% to £35m in 2018. Within this growth, candy has been the biggest driver, with sales topping £30m.”
Ironically this year, this celebration of horror falls on the day the UK is scheduled to Brexit from the EU. But rather than focusing on the possible spooky political and industry implications, Food Spark takes a look at the new innovations that could be trick or treating people this year.
From scary savoury eats to speciality treats
Marks & Spencer has gone all out for the season with over 50 scary concoctions, including 25 new ones which will be available in stores from October 16. There’s a creepy crawly makeover for Colin the Caterpillar with a green face and feet, pink eyes and chocolate maggots covering his back, replacing the smarties on the regular cake. Other NPD includes chocolate severed fingers and pumpkin patch profiteroles, filled with chocolate cream and topped with an orange fondant pumpkin.
But it’s not just sweet for M&S’ Halloween treats. There's savoury options such as the Meatloaf Mummy, a menacing mince beef meatloaf mixed with mature cheddar and smoked bacon, then wrapped in butter enriched puff pastry, while a Bubbling Cheese Cauldron consists of a cheesy witches brew of fondue made using a blend of Barbers 1833 Mature Cheddar cheese, crème fraiche and cider. Other products include the Hocus Pocus Patties with two wickedly delicious beef burgers with pumpkin-shaped cheese topping.
Also part of the range is The Melting Mummy Pizza, a “grave” stone baked pizza topped with tomato sauce, extra mature cheddar cheese and melting mozzarella bandages and olive eyes, along with bat-shaped fried chicken Box o' Bats.
At Waitrose, a touch of Halloween has been added to the cheese counter with a Sticky Toffee Apple Wensleydale.
“As the popularity of Halloween celebrations continues to grow, our expert partners on the service counter will be on hand to share their knowledge on what other cheeses to add, or what to serve with it, such as pairing with an apple cider or Perry for a true Halloween match made in heaven,” said Alice Shrubsall, cheese buyer at Waitrose & Partners.
On the speciality side, Fortnum & Mason have a limited edition Halloween hamper bursting with spooktacular goodies so gruesome that it will elicit blood-curdling screams of joy, according to the luxury brand. Included are trick or treat truffles, Vampire blood bites, Earwax pieces and deadly chocolate skulls.
Hotel Chocolat has also gotten into the spirit. Its released Choose Your Poison Halloween Cocktail chocolates in flavours Black Cat Martini with a blend of Grey Goose vodka, blackcurrant and liquorice, Corpse Reviver made with Gin, triple sec, vermouth and blood orange, Green Fairy with a shot of absinthe and Zombie, a glug of white rum with orange and passion fruit.
It’s also got a pumpkin shaped product, called The Yumpkin which is made with 40% milk chocolate, vampire and bat-shaped chocolates and Oozy Eyes, gory eye-ball shaped white chocolates that contain dripping red caramel inside.
Terrorising afternoon tea
For those looking for a terrifying twist on a classic afternoon tea, Roast Restaurant in Borough Market has created a Halloween-inspired version. Available from just October 28 until November 3 and priced at £25 per person, the sandwiches are pretty standard with options like smoked salmon and crème fraîche and roast beef, watercress and mustard.
The sweet treats are where the Halloween-themed inspiration comes in with the likes of spiced pumpkin cake, a chocolate witch’s hat and a blood orange mess shot. The scones have also had a makeover, infused with charcoal in honour of the season.
So Sparkie, is Halloween a ‘fang’tastic opportunity?
It’s difficult really. There will be a limited market for this stuff so it becomes a question of value. Development of these products obviously takes time and resources, so really only the individual business can make a case for its worth.
If you are taking time out of a chef’s day to come up with products that only stick around for a month at most, it might not be worthwhile for a lot of businesses but if it’s one or two developers making something that can be rolled out easily over a national chain and will be reused every time that the holiday rolls around, it could be worthwhile. This is why these things are usually done in a fairly mediocre way as they generally won’t generate new business – most people will just buy the themed version of existing products during the holiday period.