UK spending on fresh soup has shown consistent growth, up from £78.2m in 2007 to £124.39m in 2015.* This increase has been driven in no small part by the desire of an increasing percentage of the population to eat healthily, while at the same time wanting to spend wisely. Variety and flavour innovation has also played a major role in this upward sales trend, as consumers become more adventurous in their tastes. To find out more, Take Stock talked to David Sword, MD of The Scottish Soup Company.
How have you seen interest in fresh soups grow?
We’ve been selling pies and pastry products to butchers and bakers for over 50 years. Spotting a niche in the market for fresh, chilled soups, we added our own homemade soups to the range in 2013 getting sales up to around two tonnes a week pretty quickly. Since then it’s just exploded, so much so that we now sell an average of five tonnes a day – our busiest period being September to Easter.
Who are your customers?
A whole range of suppliers but we’ve built up a brilliant relationship with a major local wholesaler in Glasgow. Obviously we’ve still got the butchers and bakers we started out with, but now our soups can be found in sandwich bars, coffee shops, delicatessens and retailers far and wide.
Why have your soups proved so popular?
Our goal at the start was to have soups as good as the ones we grew up with. At the start it was just me in the kitchen and I spent a lot of time developing a range that offered genuine taste and quality. We don’t use any chemicals or additives; but top quality stocks, local vegetables and, when necessary, a little cornflower to thicken. Once made, our soups go at 90°C into either individual 600g pots or 4 kg pails that are ideal for foodservice, so that once sealed and chilled, the soup is in perfect condition. That way, when re-heated and served to the consumer, he or she is getting a real home made taste. Soups that have to rely on chemicals and additives to give them a long shelf life just can’t compete.
What’s in it for the reseller?
If you have the time, making soup isn’t that difficult. However, what we offer our customers is guaranteed quality, full allergen and ingredient information and a known base cost. The other thing is that as we’re making the same soups all year round, we can always source the ingredients, meaning supply and cost is guaranteed. But above all, it’s the fact that an operator can satisfy the incredible demand for top quality soup, with the minimum of equipment and hassle. All that’s required is a saucepan to heat the soup, something like a bain-marie or soup kettle to keep it warm and cups to serve it in. Get some POS signage up, look at possible soup and food combinations and away you go. It really is that simple.