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Taste of things to come on the Wright track.

Produce departments will be selling more freshly prepared, ready-to-eat, fruit in their chilled cabinets, believes Michael Coles, managing director of Wrights of York.

The company can trace its 100 year-old history to premesis inside the walled city, when it was a specialist food retailer.

Today, located some five miles away, at Skelton, it has become a major chilled food processor with sales which will be near [pound]20 million this year.

It has a substantial share of the coleslaw business, as well as producing chilled dressed salad and sandwiches. These, collectively, have reached about [pound]15 million, and its customers include the Coop, Wm Morrison and Waitrose.

Coles told The Grocer: "With prepared fruit already being sold by several retailers, the present trend suggests it will expand.

"Some retail buyers still see the product range as somewhat of an enigma, but, remember 10 years ago few consumers would have bought bagged prepared salads.

"The market is now worth millions of pounds, and part of the fresh produce range in the chilled cabinet," he said.

It may be some years before the range of prepared fruit reaches the same scale, but Coles can already see hints of this through interest in prepared pineapple and fruit salad mixes.

As a subsidiary of the Albert Fisher Group, bought from Campbell's in March 1994, Coles suddenly found himself able to take advantage of this new trend after AFG purchased the fruit manufacturing interests of Pourshin based at Runcorn, Cheshire.

Its expertise lay in preparing fresh fruit dishes for airline catering, but Coles believes produce departments, and health, and snack food stores offer a bigger challenge and greater potential.

"We intend to respond to seasonal needs, expand sales to food service and we are looking at products which will become the next generation of prepared fruit," adds Phillip Thornton, sales and marketing director.

Using AFG as its procurement base, Hazel Cleather, technical director, is developing the current range of tropical fruit salads to include mangoes, kiwifruit, lychees, physalis, pawpaws and citrus.

In a short time Wrights has expanded the business inherited from Pourshin, projecting [pound]4 million worth of sales in the first year.
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Title Annotation:Wrights of York
Date:Jun 3, 1995
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