New convenient and tasty spanish tapas wrapped in an attractive and high performance packaging
Based in Olot in the North East of Spain, Espuña is a leading producer of deli meats: traditional Catalan sausages, dry cured ham, bacon, cooked ham, frankfurters and a variety of cold sliced meats. With an 8% share, Espuña is the leading Spanish brand on the sliced cured ham market segment. Its product portfolio includes many firmly established consumer brands. In recent years, the company launched five new ranges of innovative products: Minute Snacks in 2002, Chilled Sliced Tapas in 2004, Rolled Snacks in 2005 and Tapas Assortments in 2007. All ranges have in common fast and easy preparation, along with attractive and innovative packaging.
Highly Convenient Minute Snacks
The “Tapas al Minuto” or Minute Snacks introduce convenient and tasty tapas wrapped in an attractive and high performance packaging. The product is clean, quick and easy to prepare in the microwave oven, with no cooking or washing up involved – a true competitive advantage. It has become very popular for entertaining guests effortlessly. The consumer packs contain 80g of pre-cooked tapas in five different varieties: Choricitos and Spicy Choricitos (small pork sausages), Pinchitos (skewered pieces of meats), Combined Pinchitos, Rolled Snacks (bacon wraps) and a Tapas Assortment.
Microwaveable Skin Packaging
To pack this high added value product, Espuña wanted the best microwaveable material that would be attractive and make everything easy (packaging, handling, opening). They naturally selected Simple Steps®, the Vacuum Skin Packaging concept from long-term packaging partner Sealed Air Cryovac. The Simple Steps® system is optimal for pasteurisation at high pressure, which allows long shelf life while preserving the product’s organoleptic properties. Rather than being altered by the packaging process, the product presentation is enhanced by the total surface sealing which provides an attractive second skin appeal.
The thin Simple Steps© material is ideal for easy molding, thus allowing creative and original shapes, very attractive for the retailer and consumer. Microwave steam cooking enables heating in just one minute, and keeps the food hot in the closed pack for up to 25 minutes – which is extremely helpful when self catering. “Skin packaging offers an unbeatable presentation. When it is also microwaveable, the concept is easy to heat and clean. For us, that’s what convenience is all about”, said Joan Viñals, Production Manager at Espuña. To make the packaging reminiscent of the traditional Tapas, the skin pack is inserted in a cardboard box designed like blackboards announcing Tapas of the day in Spanish bars.
Spectacular Consumer Success
To the company’s great satisfaction, the new Minute Snacks range achieved spectacular growth rates in the past few years. The product came as a welcome novelty that stood out on retail shelves, clearly expanding the offer in pre-cooked and convenient chilled ready meals. Retailers were quick to embark on this upward trend and the range is now available in Spain at Alcampo, El Corte Inglés, Hipercor, Carrefour, Aldi; in France at Carrefour, Système U, Lafayette, Monoprix, Franprix, Leclerc, Casino, Intermarché; and in the UK at Waitrose, Morrison, Costco, Makro and Aldi. Positively surprised by consumers’ enthusiasm, retailers asked for more flavours and varieties. Espuña is thus testing new formats and recipes to suit all tastes and consumers.
Sustained Future Growth
Future growth strategies for Espuña are based on the innovation of products and new technologies that provide differentiated added value to consumers and retailers alike. Not forgetting international expansion through consolidation in existing markets and an extended presence in other export markets. With this in mind, investing in value added products that best fulfill customer needs remains a key priority.
“The Cryovac team is always there when we need them: when we want to develop new products, formats or applications, or we have to solve packaging issues; they really make any challenge easier”, added Joan Viñal.
Espuña Wins Two Consumer Awards
In 2008, Spanish consumers praised the constant innovation efforts of Espuña by selecting two of the company’s products as “Products of the Year 2008” – including the Minute Snacks range in the Ready Meals category. This award reflects the value given by consumers to this highly innovative product featuring best recipes, rigorously selected ingredients and a convenient microwaveable package – the vacuum skin Simple Steps® which allows consumers to enjoy a ‘homemade’ treat in just a few minutes.
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