In the build-up to the holidays, bakeries, cafés, coffee and sandwich shops need to make the most of Christmas shoppers and consumers in the festive period. Cranberries, cinnamon, spices and apples are all seasonal ingredients that would complement sandwich fillings.
Relishes and chutneys that use these ingredients can provide an extra edge to sandwich ranges, and are an inexpensive and simple way of increasing profits, while providing a more premium product for consumers. Maria Whitehead runs The Hawkshead Relish Company with her husband Mark in the heart of the Lake District, producing 120 different relishes, chutneys and sauces. She believes high-quality products using flavoursome and natural ingredients are key to enticing customer interest.
"Customers will be attracted to sandwiches with good flavours, natural ingredients and fresh products. Sauces and relishes are an ideal way to do this in the busy Christmas period. Customers should be using ingredients like mulled spices and winter berries to complement seasonal fair, such as turkey. These products fly out this time of year and the foodservice market is twigging on to this hassle-free way of vamping up a sandwich."
The company’s Christmas product range is proving to be increasingly popular in the bakery and sandwich industry. The Hawkshead Relish Company’s fruity and lightly spiced Christmas chutney, gingered apple Boxing Day chutney and chunky Michaelmas relish are all favourable choices.
Bakers are also keen to sell jars of chutneys and relishes in-store, such as its fig and cinnamon chutney, as an additional offering to customers. "Bakers purchase relishes for sandwiches they make and sell in-store and an increasing number sell jars on to customers who want them as gifts or as an indulgent extra for Christmas dinners," adds Whitehead.
"If a customer can buy a sauce or relish that they have already tried in a sandwich, then it’s a great way to maximise sales."
Clive Barker, co-founder and operations director at BD Foods, which creates restaurant-quality products to complement businesses in the foodservice sector, explains how bakers are intrigued by the firm’s unique take on traditional relishes and chutneys. "In the run-up to Christmas, we see a marked increase in foodservice companies looking to strengthen their portfolio of festive condiments and chutneys. This year, we have had more requests for slightly quirkier chutneys, such as date and tamarind, spiced apple and mustard seed and even a winter chilli piccalilli."
Bakeries and sandwich shops who use and sell such relishes and chutneys during the Christmas holidays could benefit from it in the long run. "Our Michaelmas Relish is something our customers consider an all-year-round product, using it as a pasta sauce and even a salsa dip," Whitehead says.
Barker believes such sandwich accompaniments will prove popular with customers for years to come. "Chutneys and relishes are important at this time of year. Bakeries, cafés and the like can transform an ordinary sandwich into something emotively festive, and possibly more profitable. After all, the traditional Christmas meal would just be Sunday lunch without them."