By bakery consultant Wayne Caddy

In my last article, I discussed the potential impact of hero products and how they could often be at the heart of a good business strategy. Following on from this, while travelling in India, I saw some great ideas for street food - tandoori chicken or lamb served in fresh-baked flatbread called roomali, typically taking no more than 1 minute to bake on an ulta tawa (inverted wok).

Now I am not suggesting that you must install a tandoori oven and ulta tawa in your bakery. However, could your business grow by using ethnic flatbreads in your sandwich and snack ranges? It’s not as if ethnic recipes are new to our consumers; chicken tikka masala is one of the UK’s most popular meals.

Many cafés and bakery retailers have fresh sandwiches on offer in the UK, being typically a good tool to draw in consumers at lunch, who often then buy other goods, as well as to drive incremental sales. This is why, characteristically, it is a hard area to crack and is only going to see further competition through outlets such as Pret A Manger and Subway in the UK.

To create interest in the sandwich market, I would recommend using ethnic flatbreads that are typical to the UK consumer, such as naans and chapatis. They make great wrap sandwiches and are easy to fill; think of them as a tortilla wrap. I am not suggesting you replace your existing ranges with ethnic flatbreads. However, I would urge that you add in specials that run for a short period to create interest and choice in your ranges.

If manufacturing on-site is a possibility, then great! All you will require is a small dough mixer and a hotplate to make fresh flatbreads. If your unit cannot manufacture, then why not buy in? There are several good flatbread manufacturers and wholesalers out there. You can refresh ethnic flatbreads in just seconds to revive the full freshness of the bread.

So far, I have suggested using ethnic flatbreads in fairly conventional ways. But how about taking this a step further, with a healthy lunchbox as an alternative to a sandwich? Try a disposable, segmented lunchbox, filled with salad, protein and a freshly sliced toasted flatbread - for example tandoori chicken on a bed of spinach and watercress salad drizzled with a mint and yoghurt dressing or a toasted wholewheat chapati, cut into several slices.

It doesn’t just have to be ethnic. How about Mediterranean? Or maybe roasted red peppers and feta cheese on a bed of couscous, served with a freshly toasted sliced pitta bread?

Create your own lunchboxes to suit your customers’ requirements or let them decide what goes in!