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France's food show of food shows: new frozen products shine at SIAL.

Almost 108,000 potential buyers from 151 countries attend grand biennial event. Some 756 frozen food exhibitors on scene, with French and other European firms in full force.

All roads led to Paris Oct. 23-27 for SIAL (Salon International D'Alimentation), and the "roads" within the exhibition hall led to a number of booths offering the newest and most creative frozen food products.

"The food processing industry is agriculture's locomotive," said Jean Puech, French minister of agriculture, as he inaugurated the biennial trade fair's 16th rendition and 30th anniversary.

Addressing the 14 ministers and two secretaries of agriculture who accompanied him on a tour of the food products exhibition, Jean Puech declared: "The European Union must have the added-value reflex. It should adopt a coherent strategy and its own means to assure the presence of its operators on world markets."

Consumption is starting to recover, stocks are lower and investments should follow, added the minister. Indeed, visitors to the SIAL included 135 CEOs of supermarket chains and over 300 major buyers. Some 3,940 companies exhibited - 40% of them were from France, with the rest coming from 80 countries around the world. There were 756 frozen food exhibitors from 53 countries on hand.

The presentation of SIAL d'Or awards was a key event. In the frozen food category, two products were recognized. The Spanish firm Pescanova was spotlighted for creation of an innovative dish of shrimp, green asparagus and bean sprouts. Since its launch on the domestic market two years ago, the company has sold more than 200 tons of what Teresa Fernandez Vidal, product manager and executive senior managing director, called an unprecedented mix of shrimp and vegetables. Each of the three ingredients in this product are individually packed in polybags. Sales to Portugal head the export campaign agenda. The company intends to penetrate the French market with this new recipe too, said Vidal. It is also targeting Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the UK and Scandinavia.

A Japanese manufacturer, Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd., shared kudos with Pescanova in the frozen food SIAL d'Or category for its deep fried shrimp dumplings launched domestically in 1992. Ebino Tsutsumiage "Nissui," developed to satisfy demand for frozen Chinese-style cuisine, has been a huge success in Japan. Sales in 1993 were over $25 million, putting the product at the top of its category. The company concurrently launched two equally successful frozen dumplings featuring meat and vegetable fillings.

"Although at present the product is sold only in Japan, Suisan is targeting the US market where it has a subsidiary," said Naoya Kakizoe, executive senior managing director. "We are interested in joint ventures with companies in the United States, something that has already been done with South Korean firms. Meanwhile, we are keeping an eye on China, where the product line has excellent potential."

Canadian retailer Loblaw Brands President's Choice snails en brioche earned a SIAL d'Or award, the first for a private label product. New technology was specifically developed to automate processing. The snails en brioche item, which reportedly has carved out a 6% share of the starters category, is being distributed to around 20 other retailers worldwide.

"We'd love to export," said Richard Rom, Blackwells Food Corporation (Pty) Ltd. managing director. The company's frozen Spinach and Mushroom Potato Bake, which targets working families, won the SIAL d'Or as the best product in all categories from South Africa. It is one of four quick frozen prepared vegetable recipes launched in South Africa last May.

"Our turnover has increased by 40% every month since the introduction of this line. To meet demand we have to put farmers under contract," said Rom. He described his four-year-old company as "aggressive and not very popular with competitors." Blackwells manufactures the largest private label in South Africa, Pick n Pay's Choice range and the Foodhall line. It is also the country's brand leader in frozen pasta sauces.

Brazil's 1994 SIAL d'Or winner was also a frozen food product, Classy Seara seasoned frozen chicken manufactured by Ceval Alimentos SA. It was launched on the domestic market two years ago and was subsequently named best "lunch food" at the Abras trade fair in 1993, said Sergio Roberto Waldrich, manager.

In Brazilian retail circuits Classy Seara chicken sells for around $3 a kilo. "The year the product was introduced we sold 200 tons, in 1993 we moved 400 tons and in 1994 we estimate retail volume at 1,500 tons," advised Waldrich.

The company, which sells $100 million worth of frozen meat a year to foreign customers, is not yet exporting Classy Seara seasoned chicken but, said Waldrich, "We are targeting Japan and the Middle East. Exports are not our priority, though. Even if only 5% of Brazil's 150-million population has freezers, that still makes for a big domestic market."

Founded in 1972, Cerval has been manufacturing frozen foods since 1980. Ranking No. 3 in Brazil today, the company is concentrating on added-value items in the form of prepared frozen dishes. Growth is stable and market share is said to be increasing. Indeed, Cerval sells some 10,000 tons of frozens each month nationally.

SIAL organizers also acknowledged innovation in various fields. Sofapal of France received the "know-how" prize for its quick frozen, vacuum-packed line of film-wrapped products. Featured are a seafood cocktail, surimi salad and paella.

The company, which imports fish from global sources, also processes and redistributes added-value products to retail stores in France and abroad. The latter activity represents 5% of turnover.

"A vacuum-packed product wrapped in film has a better appearance in freezer departments, is more hygenic, has more protection and tastes better," said Candice Leroux, marketing director. "Our line, the first of its kind in France, corresponds to a new market."

When it comes to prizes in innovation and know-how, sometimes the "losers" at a trade fair can be just as interesting as the winners. "The Italian market doesn't necessarily accept frozen pasta," said Alessandro Bettini, Bocon sales manager, referring to the company's new Le Paste d'Italia line launched last May in Italy. Despite supposed Italian reticence, sales have nonetheless expanded by between 25% and 30% on the domestic market each month since its launch.

Bettini was very excited about the technology which was developed and patented by his company to create products which allow each frozen noodle to be individually enrobed with sauce. Bocon invested in a new purpose-built plant in Ficarolo to produce the line. "Frozen pasta is very fragile and our process doesn't damage the individually enrobed noodles," he said. "Our new machine is revolutionary."

Le Pasta Italia production started up in October 1993 and the Ficarolo factory has capacity for 40,000 tons annually. "We should be producing up to that level in two to three years," Bettini said.

The product comes in bags rather than boxes because the former rotate more quickly in freezer cases and the line targets volume. "It should become a basic," the sales manager said.

Launched in the European Union last September, it is already distributed by Migros in Spain, Karstadt in Germany, FDB in Denmark, Delhaize in Belgium, Sainsbury in the UK and Alpha Beta in Greece. November was the target date for penetration of the French market. Exports account for up to 70% of volume.

For the first time ever, a UK seafood company won an award in the SIAL's international innovation competition. The Aberdeen, Scotland-based fish processor, Joseph Robertson, Ltd., was honored in the prepared products category for a new item in its Royale range: skinless breaded haddock with cheese prawn and mushroom sauce. It offers an enrobed sauce featuring homogeneous repartition between the irish filet and the coating.

"Things (the world economy) are not what they used to be and this fair is not what it used to be," said John M. Mortensen, Emborg Foods product manager.

During the first half of the SIAL, the Danish frozen food specialist received as many visitors as during the whole period of the last Exhibition two years earlier. The trading company, with subsidiaries in Germany, the USA, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, links supply and demand and sells quick frozen products worldwide under its brand and private labels.

"We also serve niche markets," said Mortensen. "Our latest line of packages of eight mutton kebabs, chicken burgers and beef burgers is for the Middle East retail trade. We also sell frozen mozzarella made in Denmark to Middle Eastern markets. Emborg has been doing business with the Middle East since the early '60s, when we were sourcing in Denmark and shipping. There are now plants in the Emirate for local sourcing. We try to find new products, but not novelties per se, because the basics will always sell."

The Danish market represents only 10% of the company's 850 million DK turnover. Emborg does business in 100 countries, selling in bulk, retail and own label formats. In addition, it is supplying UN troops in Bosnia.

Vivagel (Compagnie du Froid Alimentaire), Vitry-sur-Seine, is going back to its roots. No, it isn't a search for the owners' family tree, said Corinne Mury, director of marketing, but a search for the 'roots' of the company's products and a new appreciation for their traditions.

"To Innovate is Our Tradition" is the motto on a Vivagel brochure distributed at SIAL. Variations of that corporate philosophy are reflected in some 21 new product introductions, in categories ranging from exotic pizzas to meat and fish pies, mushroom cakes and fancy quiches.

Quiche au Confit de Canard (Preserved Duck Quiche), Maxi-Gourmande Tex-Mex Pizza, Salmon Beurre Blanc (Salmon in White Butter), Poisson au Four Tomates et Basilac (Baked Fish in Tomatoes and Basil), Galettes Jambon Fromage (Ham and Cheese pancakes) Tourte Bressane (cake made with poultry, fresh cream and morel mushrooms) and Gratin de Tomates a la Viande (tomato and meat gratin) were just a few of the new products on display.

Surgeles Vitacuire, Meyzieu, France, meanwhile, came out with a range of filled pastries (Crocs). Targeted at families of two to four, partying teenagers, working women and others who may need to fix a last-minute meal in a hurry, Crocs come in packs of four 160-gram pieces.

Four varieties are available, said Myriam Favre, spokesman for the company: Charcutier-Traiteur; ham, cheese and bacon; two cheese and cream; and pizza (tomato and basil). They are just the latest in a tradition of sweet and savory pastry products, including filled puff pastries (with meat, cheese, salmon, veal, etc.), Grignoto Italian ham and cheese "Nibblies," Festifeuilles (appetizers with salmon, roquefort cheese, olives, etc.), Feuillantins (hexagonal pastries with smoked or cooked salmon, ham and cheese), quiche pies and more.

SavorLand, Le Moustoir, France, had just been acquired by the Belgian-Dutch Unifrost-DuJardin Group at the time of the show. The expanded Unifrost-SavorLand frozen vegetable operation plans to increase production to 85,000 tons this year, while shooting for a target of 100,000.

SavorLand, based in the prime growing region of Brittany, has always offered a range of vegetable purees and herbs as well as single (spinach, cauliflower, green beans, etc.) and mixed vegetables. Unifrost's DuJardin operation ("the Garden of Europe") is a processor of frozen potato products as well as vegetables, with plants in both Ardooie-Koolskamp, Belgium (Unifrost S.A.) and Oosterbierum, the Netherlands (Vriezo B.V.), but the largest single market for its products is France (Germany is second), so it makes sense to team up with SavorLand, agreed managing directors Paul Haspeslaugh (Unifrost) and Christian Vanderberghe (DuJardin).

Elleniki Biomekhania Galaktos (Hellenic Milk Industries) S.A., Athens, a leading Greek ice cream producer, introduced its Channel Caramel, a concoction of cocoa and caramel ice cream with caramel in the center and coated on the back with crispy chocolate. According to A. Stergiou, export manager, it is just one of more than 70 different products that the company markets all over Greece and exports to most European countries.

Gelpeixe Alimentos Congelados S.A., based in Loures and said to be the leading frozen food processing and marketing company in Portugal, does most of its business in a broad range of frozen fish products, said Vitor Amaral Dias, marketing manager. But it also distributes Unilever's Iglo and Ola ice cream brands, imports frozen vegetables from Belgium, and markets the Treno brand of pre-cooked foods. The company's cold store has a capacity of some 10,000 cubic meters; from there, a fleet of 19 long-haul refrigerated tracks serves accounts ranging from small grocery stores to hypermarkets, restaurants and hotels. A 3,000-square meter plant employs 100 workers, and total sales are more than three billion escudos a year.

Cerf S.A., Thionville, France, is a major producer of processed frozen meat and poultry, with dozens of products distributed under the Cergel brand. Three of its newest items, said Thierry Klein, commercial director, are bacon burgers, mini-burgers and Croque Monsieur toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, which come two, four and eight to a package, respectively. Already represented in the Cergel line are products ranging from home burgers and hot dogs to chicken nuggets and chicken cordon bleu.

S.A. Proda France, Tregunc, offers frozen fresh-squeezed orange juice (not concenterate), "Orange Juice as Nature Intended." The product is made from late Maroc and Valencia oranges, kept at +2 [degrees] C until they are squeezed in an FMC juice extractor. The juice is filled in square polyethylene bottles at a temperature of +4 [degrees] C, after which tamper-evident screw caps are applied; the filled bottles are then frozen. The juice comes out of the freezing tunnel at -18 [degrees] and is transported and stored at -25 [degrees].

Daregal, Milly le Foret, France, offered a new range of "third generation" dried and frozen herbs, including basil, chive, tarragon and parsley. Freezing dried herbs, said the company, is a new concept that "offers the organoleptic qualities of fresh and frozen herbs, and the convenience of dehydrated and freeze-dried ones." The only additives are salt and sugar; once thawed, the products are readily sprinklable for easy application in controlled weight recipes.

Faroe Seafood Co., based in Grimsby, England, was back with a variety of extensions to its Natural Choice range of 600-gram packs of plain, battered and breaded whitefish products. Managing director Mike Curley said the company has recently landed orders from Eastern Europe for products like cod steaks and other fish steaks in butter and parsley sauces, and is particularly keen to expand its exports to that region. Faroe is a major supplier of private label as well as its Natural Choice brand to supermarkets and freezer centers.

Under the aegis of Surgele des Mers, a division it created in 1990 to both stimulate and satisfy retail demand, the French company Frial highlighted its Au Large de France brand pout filets at the SIAL.

"We are not emphasizing the export market," said Patricia Boulanger, seafood buyer. "Our targets are the French retail distribution segment and freezer centers. French consumers want French products. We have created an economic interest group (GIE) to attenuate the difficulties the crisis in the French fishing sector has generated. We have agreements with cooperatives for supply."

The Bayeux-based company has every reason to be optimistic about the new product because overall QFF volume has jumped from 3,500 tons in 1991 to 10,000 tons in 1993. Ms. Boulanger projects that Surgele des Mers' 1994 volume will hit 12,000 tons.

French seafood packer Halieutis, with three plants in Britanny, rolled out its Fisher Boy "Croustifish Zip Pack" in national retail distribution networks more than a year ago. "But since the launch, the product has evolved," said Virginie Thomas Halieutis, marketing assistant. "The breaded fish finger market in France is saturated," she added, "so we are studying the export markets."

Funfish, launched in 1992, was, on the other hand, an immediate success. "They have a playful appeal and caught on straightaway with distributors," she said. "The low-priced item has an excellent coverage ratio in France, and we have an export option in Belgium. For both products, Germany is our key target. We will soon be diversifying and producing added-value frozen fish in sauce dishes."

Lyons Seafoods Ltd. of the UK launched Prawn Kievs in its home market only two weeks before the SIAL opened. "They were very well received by our key customers," said M.H. Howard-Evans, business development manager. "Our export target is continental Europe, with Germany being a top priority. In April we launched a range of coated shrimp that got a good reception."

Moray Seafoods unveiled three new products at the SIAL. The company, already one of the largest shellfish processors in Britain, is continuing to expand sales through Europe and North America by developing additional lines. Chairman Isobel Eckersley predicts a worldwide shortage of quality shellfish. Moray, which holds the Processor Quality Award issued by the British Seafish Industry Authority, invested a substantial amount of money and research into product development over the last year.

"We launched Scampi Kiev in 1994 throughout the UK," said Eckersley. "We sell mostly to caterers, but are trying to better penetrate retail distribution circuits."

The firm's frozen whole langoustines target nearly exclusively the export sector. "France, Italy and Spain used to be the big markets, but they can't pay the prices," said the chairman. "The export market is so very important for us because in Scotland fresh seafood is readily available, thus dampening demand for frozen."

In the UK, Moray's range is carried by Safeway, William Morrison, Netto and Gateway. On the French market, the company packs private labels. "But both in the UK and France, it is easier to distribute to caterers than to retail buyers because price is a more crucial factor for the latter," said Eckersley.

The young British firm SeaPerfect is early in its growth curve, according to Suki S. Kalirai, marketing and sales director. Its clams, 20% of which are quick frozen, are imported from South Carolina. Ninety percent of the scallops it sources from Chile are sold frozen. The firm, which is to be listed on the London Stock Exchange, is interested in new products to satisfy demand. "But we are not intending to develop value-added products," said Kalirai.

The Norwegian firm Salmonor will soon debut a salmon burger with potatoes. "We are ready for production - now it is a question of marketing," said Vivan Holmefjord, who works in export sales.

In collaboration with fellow Norwegian operator Ferdigmat, Salmonor supplied the '94 Lillehammer Winter Olympics with quick frozen salmon soup, Lakesuppe. In France, Loison-Labory has elaborated a line of around 20 Salmonor frozen salmon products, including quick frozen stuffed salmon that is retailed in packets containing three slices. This is already distributed by LeClerc and Continent in France.

"We are trying to better address the French market," said Holmefjord. "Our other targets for the sliced stuffed salmon are Germany and Belgium. We are testing in North America."

In Italy, Salmonor packs for Argel's private label and the brand Mare Pronto.

Haitai's European food division presented Kind-Brand shrimp and surimi. Available in France for a year already, expansion in Europe is now getting serious attention.

Stephane Koletski, sales manager of Pickenpack France Sarl, a subsidiary of Germany's Pickenpack Tiekuhlgellschaft, said that the group is constantly launching new added-value frozen fish products and that, for the past five years, turnover has averaged 15%. The company is expanding concurrently in private label and hard discount segments. But, noted Koletski, private label is not necessarily an "open sesame" to any market.

The group exports 35% of its production on the continent. "Exporting to Eastern Europe is special, but it works," said the sales manager. "There are specific contingencies concerning logistics and insurance. We make sure that goods are paid for before they leave the factory. Maximum credit, for very good clients, is limited to one delivery. The Croatian market is shaping up, and other areas of interest are Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. Although East Germans are not yet well equipped with freezers, in two to three years they will catch up."

The company presented Pickenpack Packfisch breaded filets sprinkled with sesame seeds at the SIAL. "This product is not on the market yet," said Koletzki. "It is being tested first in Germany. For other European countries, we often have to adapt a product, particularly when it comes to fish in sauce where, for example, the preference in France differs sharply from German taste."

Gelagri Bretagne of France presented its new Paysan Breton brand individual quick frozen grated carrots and celery root in zip packs plus breaded vegetable patties, P'tit Tom, at the SIAL. The latter targets children and is part of a European trend of producing vegetable patties. The former is a challenger to the chilled salad competitors.

"This launch is under the aegis of developing added-value products which also provide the consumer with excellent value for money," said Gerard Deniel, industrial department manager. "We are aiming at French retailers; that is our first priority. Meanwhile, we will be exporting to satisfy demand abroad."

French mushroom specialist and leading world mushroom producer, Royal Champignon, presented quick frozen Cocktail de Champignons at the SIAL. "The product is already a success," said Jacques Legendre, marketing manager. "We are selling about 100 tons a year in France in a freezer center chain, Union Francaise des Surgeles, and in the retail chains LeClerc, Paridoc, Promodes and Comod."

The product is genuinely different because it links wild, woodland mushrooms and cultivated (button) mushrooms. The latter are a basic and the former an upmarket product. Bringing the two together provides a broad consumer base.

"Our export targets are the UK and Benelux," said Legendre. many is not a priority. We have a trading subsidiary in that country, but German preferences, as well as those of Italians, differ when it comes to wild mushrooms. In 1992, the packaging of our entire revamped to create a very look and one that is more expressive of mushrooms."

The company also packs for private label buyers. And although it has a 50% frozen mushroom market share in France, and accounts for 63% of the nation's frozen mushroom exports, there are still shares it can capture, according to Legendre.

"Private label in France, the UK and in Germany is my business," said Christophe Vatelot, sales manager of Siale (Societe Industrielle Amoricaine de Legumes). "We always develop added-value lines, such as vegetable gratin, in collaboration with the client."

The company packs for the label of a key French freezer center chain and an important national brand - the names of both are confidential. At the SIAL it showcased frozen soup and chips, an entirely natural product with no additives. "The product's rate of growth is very strong - it has nearly doubled in two years. Some 1,100 tons are sold annually," noted Vatelot.

Sabra Salads of Israel signed a contract with Los Angeles-based S.M. Quality Food at SIAL to distribute its frozen Alexis Mikhailoff Salads on the USA west coast. "We already had a distributor in Boston," said Eitan Kamal, export manager.

The product, which is mainly sold chilled in Israel, is quick frozen for export. Launched nearly two years ago in Israel, by October of 1994 the company was selling 15 tons a month on the domestic market. "We have not been very successful in the UK," said Kamal, "but our target is continental Europe."

Frigopol SA, a Polish frozen food processor, became a private company two years ago. "We started freezing meat in 1952 and began diversifying in 1970," said sales manager Krzystof Borkowski. "We have been making ice cream since 1977 and now produce 1,500 tons a year. The rate of growth should be 200% within the next year."

"Fruit and vegetables account for nearly 60% of our exports, but we are not sufficiently acquainted with western distribution circuits. We export to customers in the Netherlands, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine and the Urals. In 1994 we started exporting ice cream and shipped 10 tons to Moscow," said Borkowski. "The latest product we have launched is frozen yogurt, which won a prize in Poland."

"We are constantly developing new products on the strength of the R&D of our parent company in the US," said Jan von Dongen, Lamb-Weston/Meijer area sales manager. "We launched our key added-value 'new generation' line of Twisters and CrissCuts three and half years ago in the UK, where some 150,000 tons have been sold under private labels in retail chains. Two years ago we started exporting them to Denmark, Holland, Germany, France and Spain."

French frozen fruit processor and European leader in frozen sliced fruit, S.A. Perrier launched its O'Frutti line of fruit and fruit cocktails last March. "The product is off to a good start," said CEO Jean-Pierre Perrier. "It is already distributed in Pomono supermarkets in France. We want to penetrate retailers with this line before expanding it or launching other products."

McCain Alimentaire Sarl's "new" American Buns were very nearly old hat by the time the SIAL came along and the company presented a made-in-France Pizza Western at the trade fair. "But," said Laurent Delaunay, product manager, "our objective over the next ten years is to develop a portfolio of food products retailed under the McCain brand. We will also be diversifying and extending our line beyond frozen foods."

The Belgian frozen food processor Frima, which was taken over by McCain in 1986, has since used the Frima name only in export markets. "The transition was gradual," said Willy Coolen, export manager. "The McCain label has first option on any new development in R&D, such as American Buns."

Frima started exporting six months ago, penetrating French freezer centers and home services. It also packs for Dutch, Belgian (Delhaize) and Portugese private labels. Frima brand lines as well as Mr. Aldi own labels are sold in Germany.

"We want to be very good at what we do in Europe," said Martin Tiekken of Friki (Plusfood bv). The export manager is optimistic about the Dutch food processor's launches of Poulet Calzone and Chicken Parties in France, Italy, the UK and Belgium.

The company brought out Chicken Grill Dippers last March. "We adapt products to each market to the extent that we develop individual packaging," said Tiekken. "Chicken rolls, for example, can be positioned vertically or horizontally on shelves, depending on what the retailer wants."

Dinosaurs are a tough act to follow, but Bernard Matthews is excited about its Turkey Jetters and Lamb Boomerangs. The British poultry specialist, which has set up a French subsidiary, has also hopped on the vegetable pattie bandwagon with its Country Bakes line.

"In Europe, the trend is towards fresh poultry," said Jean-Jacques Foucherot, managing director of Codival and chairman of poultry subsidiary Coeur de France. "Twenty percent of our 10,000 to 20,000 tons of poultry production per year is quick frozen, and we are actively seeking joint ventures with Anglo-Saxon partners." The French executive, who has an MBA from Northwestern and admires American know-how, observed: "We (in France) are fairly weak when it comes to added-value products. Our asset is knowledge of the European market."

Schwan's Europe Ltd. launched its Real Pan pizza in the UK last July and further extended distribution to the Continent at the SIAL. "We are talking to a major French distributor," said Steve Freeman, sales and marketing director. "Real Pan will be getting a big push in France."

The company's expanded factory in Leyland, in the north of England, will open this March with three times current production capacity.

"The bigger-sized pizza market is growing," Freeman said, referring to the 700g Chicago Town line. "The product has racked up a 300% growth rate on the Continent. We are penetrating Scandinavia."

Maurice Ferrari is sales manager of export-oriented Gelax, an Italian frozen pizza and pasta manufacturer. "We already export to Spain and Portugal and are prospecting in Germany. Casino is testing our frozen pasta in France, and in the UK we have contacts with Sainsbury for our frozen pizza," he said.

Kallby, Sweden-based frozen food processor Dafgards presented individual portions of microwave-in-bag products at SIAL. "Our Gorby's (a pirogi) are selling well in Scandinavia," said Thomas Dafgard, vice president and export manager. "Launched four years ago, the entire line's growth rate is 30% per annum. We sell Gorby's to wholesalers in the UK, but have had difficulty penetrating retailers there. In Germany, distribution is handled by the Metro group. The next product will be a Tex-Mex recipe called Zapata.

Scandinavian companies are well situated to penetrate Eastern Europe which, in the next decade or so will evolve into a tremendous market. Billy's cheeseburgers (individual portions) are doing well in Lithuania, and the line is readily accepted in Slovenia. Logistics are tricky in Eastern Europe, and a lot of amateurs are crowding the scene. Since people buy products to eat immediately, it is important to manufacture small portions and keep the prices down.

In Sweden, Gorby's sell for 8 kronor while Pan Pizza goes for between 12 and 13 kronor. Dafgards supplies Ikea chain cafeterias with all of its frozen products.

French frozen food processor La Roue du Pays d'Auge presented Mamma Mia Salmon Lasagne featuring both fresh and smoked fish. "This product has been on the market since late 1992 in retail chains and home service, recording a good rate of growth," said Pascal Richebourg, sales manager. "Our export markets are Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain."

The company, which employs 85 people, is enjoying a high rate of growth and is diversifying into chilled foods to gain greater market share." It also packs private labels, including those for the French hypermarket chain Carrefour.

S & A Foods Ltd., a British ethnic prepared food specialist, has made investments to freeze branded and private label products. Its new [pounds]6m factory in Derby, with capacity to turn out 500,000 ready meals weekly, should be in operation this spring.

The company was targeting the Continent with frozen versions of its "Meals for One" at the SIAL. The single-portion S&A Shai meal is already distributed by Aska, Wm Morrison, Nurdin & Peacock and various co-op stores in the UK. "Last April we launched the Balti range which will be available frozen in 1995," said Talib Warsi, S&A director. "We are going to be launching frozen Chinese recipes simultaneously in the UK and the rest of the EU right after the SIAL," he said.

"The French will be eating fruity angles (which they will call triangles) produced by the UK subsidiary of Daloon, a well known Danish frozen food processor," said Geoffrey Burgess, sales and marketing director. "In the UK we forecast turnover of between [pounds]1.5 to [pounds]2 million annually within the next two years."

Four fruity angles retail in the UK for about [pounds]1. In January they will be available to French caterers.

"It is simpler to launch a product in catering circuits," Burgess said. "In multiples (supermarket chains) there are more committees taking decisions, so the whole buying process is more long winded. UK retail buyers are cautious and want products that rotate rapidly. There is fierce competition for freezer space."

Daloon Foods UK also manufactures 60,000 frozen spring rolls per annum. "Over the past five years, this product has had very good growth as the market has expanded 250%," Burgess noted. "We are very active in new product development of smaller type ethnic snacks such as dim sum."

South African frozen food company Julies Food launched Dainty Delights tartlets and Beef and Chicken Royale simultaneously in South African stores and at the SIAL. The 10-year-old company reports volume growth rates of 35% to 40% and turnover increases of 300% over the past five years.

"We supply both retail chains and caterers, and are exporting to Singapore and Malaysia," said Stephan Kruger, director. "And we have some interesting contacts in the Middle East. The European market is our next target."

Weight Watchers Foods France launched a new line of two individual portions of cake last April. "They are already distributed in the Picard freezer center chain and are penetrating multiples such as Auchan and Cora," advised Brigitte Daniel, development manager of the H.J. Heinz Co. subsidiary. While unable to release figures concerning volumes, she said: "Our production capacities are geared to cover demand. In January 1995 we will be launching a seafood paella, a nouki and a lasagna. On the other hand, we are renewing our recipes for the French market to offer more variety."

Sofraco S.A., which manufactures ice cream sold under the Paladine brand, launched frozen mousse and Temps Fort ice cream cakes at the show. These two products are part of a continuing attempt to attenuate the effects of seasonal ice cream consumption. When Jean Puech, France's agriculture minister, was informed at SIAL that if the price of ice cream were cut in half consumption would be multiplied by four, he retorted: "The French will keep their figures."

Be that as it may, and following the ice cream trend of gigantism, Sofraco launched 150ml cones last March. "They are off to a good start," said Carole Benazeth, product manager. "Auchan, Monoprix and Gel 2000 are all distributing the line."

The company's products are also carried by Delhaize in Belgium and Italgel in Italy. "Spain and Germany are our next export targets," said Benazeth.

Artic, another French outfit, launched its Fantastica ice cream cake last September. "We will be debuting a 'mini big' (70ml) ice cream pop in 1995," said Veronique Debessac, executive assistant. "A high added-value 180ml upmarket chocolate-covered ice cream cone will come out at the same time."

French frozen bread manufacturer Krabansky - whose products are distributed by Promodes in the home market, Delhaize and Diversi in Belgium, Hartgers in the Netherlands, Waitrose and Delice de France in the UK, and Gourmet Express in Germany - presented garlic baguette, a regional bread specialty and ready-to-cook pastry at SIAL.

"We listen to clients' requisites," said Henri-Pierre Krabansky. "For example, we just developed a 40g garlic bread for EuroDisney. With exports accounting for 50% of our turnover, we had our first contact with Slovenia last June and are now shipping there."

At Haagen-Dazs France's SIAL stand, Christine Loisy presented mini-pints with pride. They are more or less upmarket dixie cups, miniature spoon included, which have been test-marketed in France since last May. The product was developed by Haagen-Dazs Europe and will flint be launched in gas stations and Pizza Hut units before eventually penetrating retail chains in multi-pack presentations.

Strawberry Daiquiri sherbet-coated frozen yogurt was the most recent Haagen-Dazs launch on the French market. Retail stores started selling them last winter. "They are doing well for a seasonal product," said Loisy. "A growth rate of approximately 10% is forecast. Although flagship boutiques are good for our image, we do most of our volume in retail chains."

If Haagen-Dazs France is retailing "dixie cups" for Ffr15, at Jack & Jill's stand in the American pavilion at the SIAL, Ezra Chowlaiki was figuring out that he could sell 118ml dixie cups wholesale to the French for 20 cents apiece inclusive of tax. That means that the product could retail for Ffr5 apiece.

"Europeans are very particular about packaging," he said. "We want to promote our brand rather than pack for private labels. A lot of French and British importers and wholesalers have expressed interest in our product. On the other hand, we've got the Middle East tied up. And in Lebanon, we're blowing them out of the water."

Chowaiki reflected for a few minutes and decided that it would be OK for this magazine to quote him on the preceding sentence.

Spinnaker Joint Venture Imports Farmed and Wild Indian Shrimp

Under a joint venture with several producers in the Cochin region of India, Spinnaker Seafoods Ltd. of Hull, England, is having shrimp produced under EC standards for sale in the UK. Both farmed black tiger shrimp from Cochin itself and wild shrimp from the Malabar region are being processed at the EC-approved plants. Blocks for further processing and a whole range of raw and cooked IQF shrimp are available.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hof Patisserie Takes Cake In Frozen Specialty Items

When it comes to frozen cakes, it doesn't get better than Hof Patisserie. Based in Geretsberg, Austria, the company came to SIAL in Paris with a whole range of mouth-watering confections.

Bavarian torte with chocolate mousse, Bavarian toffee torte with caramel mousse, Viennese hazelnut gateau, Bavarian torte with lemon mousse, Viennese Black Forest gateau, Italian tiramisu, Bavarian torte with birthday decorations, Bavarian torte with raspberry mousse - they were all there, sizes ranging from 530 to 700 grams. Most products in the Hof range, from chocolate cake to Viennese hazelnut gateau, come pre-sliced in eight portions for maximum convenience.

Customers in Benelux countries don't have to order them all the way from Austria. The company's new importer-distributor there is MultiFrost, DePinte, Belgium.

RELATED ARTICLE: Unilever Acquires 60% Stake in Spain's Frudesa Operation

Unilever NV, the Anglo Dutch food and consumer products conglomerate, has acquired a 60% interest in Frudesa, a Spanish frozen food operation previously owned by Danone of France.

Frudesa had sales of some $170 million for fiscal 1994, and employs 1,500 people. Unilever will take full management control of the company, and expects that it will eventually increase its ownership stake beyond 60%. Frudesa is a leading processor of frozen vegetables, fish and seafood and poultry.

Unilever has also bought 85% of Kwality, an Indian ice cream brand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Activ Making Seasonings, Spices

Activ International, paris, France, is branching out into a new ingredients area with creation of a Seasoning and Spices Laboratory.

Patrice Bontoux, a veteran of 18 years of creating flavors, heads up the unit, which complements Activ's Seafood and Meat Flavor laboratory. The operation offers new options to the food industry in making cooked dishes, soups, canned dishes, delicatessen items, etc.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pizza Hut Now in Romania, As PepsiCo Expands East

Pizza Hut International Inc. was scheduled to open its first restaurant in the Romanian capital of Bucharest during December. American Restaurant System S.A., a OSA-Romanian partnership, plans to eventually operate 30 restaurants under a franchise deal with Pizza Hut.

A unit of PepsiCo Inc., Pizza Hut has 10,000 restaurants in more than 70 nations. It has recently focused on expanding in former East bloc countries, opening outlets in Bulgaria, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

RELATED ARTICLE: PAM Goes To Tunnel For Pancakes

Old-fashioned filled hot pancakes and doughnuts are being frozen in a new-fashioned way at PAM, a French company based in Brittany. PAM has replaced its C[O.sub.2] tunnel freezer with a Super Contact freezer from Food Systems Europe. The eight-meter long unit, with a one-meter wide thin film conveyor, can freeze the products in 15 minutes, with an hourly output of 250 kilograms. The thin film conveyor slides over a low-temperature surface that freezes the undersides of the products; meanwhile, cold air blast in an insulated enclosure freezes the top sides.

RELATED ARTICLE: Grand Met's 'Last' Restructuring Aimed at Stopping Hemhorrhage

It's a good thing that Haagen-Dazs ice cream sales were up in Europe last year, because the UK-based Grand Metropolitan plc didn't have much else to cheer about in 1994. Turnover was flat, at $7.63 billion, and there were [pounds]280 million in restructuring costs against profits - on top of an earlier [pounds]175 million charge.

Most of the restructuring charge, [pounds]143 million, had to do with IDV, Grand Met's beverage arm. Charges against European food operations, including closing a number of sales offices and shops - even for Haagen-Dazs - totaled [pounds]55 million, while there were [pounds]31 million in charges against Burger King and [pounds]51 million miscellaneous.

Although European sales for Haagen-Dazs, at [pounds]104 million, were up 35%, the operation failed to make a profit because distribution is so expensive. While Pillsbury and Burger King operations in the United States did well, European food operations performed poorly, in part because it lacks any strong brands to catch the attention of consumers.

Despite all that, pre-tax profits before the restructuring charges and other items were up by five percent to [pounds]654 million for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. But the restructuring charges alone now add up to [pounds]455 million, or more than two thirds of those pre-tax profits. Grand Met insists that the latest charges are the last.
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Title Annotation:1994 Salon International D'Alimentation food show
Author:Schatzberg, Joan
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:6741
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