Bells pies and pastry No 4 most recognised food brand in Scotland

Bells pies and pastry No 4 most recognised food brand in Scotland

Scotland’s leading producer of Scotch pies has experienced another good year, with a refresh of its packaging and the launch of new bakes getting great results.

Rounding out the top five is Bells, the brand covering fresh pies and pastry owned by Lanarkshire-based Bells Food Group.

With a 60% share of the chilled brand pie market in Scotland, sales and marketing Gordon smith is exceedingly pleased with its performance, but believes it still has far to go.

“That kind of share is the kind of thing brands dream of,” he said.

“And across the UK, from a fresh pies perspective, Bells is still a number two brand, behind Pukka. That shows the strength of our performance in Scotland. We have next to no presence in England, but we’re still number two in the UK.

“The market is pretty buoyant in terms of consumer purchases. When I look at the fresh pie market in Scotland, it’s showing 7.7% growth, according to Kantar. That’s driven by frequency of shop, bigger volume purchases by consumers and also penetration, which is up 8.9%. There are consumers still coming into the sector, and for a mature sector, that’s quite encouraging. An extra nine consumers for every hundred is very welcome.

“What’s really tough in the market – and it’s tough for everyone – is the cost of ingredients. So sales can be up, but profitability can be challenged. That’s the position for a lot of people and it’s no different for us.

“It’s a strong brand that still has great potential, and we’ve seen that coming through in the last couple of years. We’re getting a lot more strategic and a bit more focussed in what we’re doing.”

On the savoury side of the business – Bells Food Group also owns Kirriemuir Gingerbread – the company has been investing money, refreshing its packaging and launching new products.

Following a £3.6m investment to double its pastry production capacity to 150 tonnes per week, it launched Bells Professional Pastry, a dedicated arm of the business focused on the manufacture and supply of quality pastry to the commercial pastry arena.

Packaging has been refreshed to provide more consistency and personality, and the brand has boosted its portfolio with the introduction of a new Bakes range (Chicken and Steak for now, with Chicken Curry to follow) that Smith forecasts will soon be worth £2m.

Designed to attract customers with busy lifestyles who are looking to enjoy good quality, affordable and convenient food, the range seems like a good fit for convenience stores, but Smith said this was an area where he felt the company was still lagging.

“It’s very rare to find our products in the convenience sector,” he said.

“There are two channels at the moment where we’re not as strong as we should be, which isn’t fair on the Scottish consumer. One is the foodservice market and the other is convenience.

“Our market at the minute is dominated by the major mults, around 90%. We’ve not been able to penetrate the convenience sector and that’s something I aim to tackle in 2018.”

Copy provided with thanks to Scottish Grocer.