Inside… Lactalis Foodservice

12/01/2016 - 07:38
In Cost Sector Catering’s series of Q&As with suppliers, we talk to Christopher Huggon, out-of-home brand manager at Lactalis Foodservice.

Cost Sector Catering: What are the main challenges for your business?

Christopher Huggon: Importing authentic dairy produce from across the world has its challenges, particularly when dealing with fresh products with a limited shelf life. But the real challenge has been the influx of cheap, poor-quality cheese and butter into the UK marketplace. With caterers’ costs challenged, some have been tempted by the lower prices. Thankfully, this tends to be a short-term move as chefs quickly find that using poor-quality cheese often equates to poor dishes and poor customer retention.

We continue to place emphasis on the added value that using a premium-branded product can bring – delivering a wide range of products that offer quality and authenticity.

Which of your many brands work best in the cost sector? Are you currently targeting any particular sector?

Italian food is embedded in UK culture, with consumers having a feeling of nostalgia connected to their youth when they enjoy Italian food. Chefs can tap into the hearts of consumers with traditional Italian dishes.

Galbani fits perfectly into Italian cuisine  not only because it is the number-one cheese in Italy, but also due to its sheer versatility and the popularity of its mild flavour profile. Mozzarella is by far our bestseller into the cost sector.

The beauty of Italian cuisine is it appeals to people of all ages and can be adapted to suit any menu. With one simple key ingredient, caterers can create a multitude of hot and cold dishes.

Our Galbani range includes mozzarella in a number of different formats, each with its own specific benefit. Whether it’s grated for pizza, mozzarella balls for starters and mains, or slices for sandwiches and panini, Galbani has a product to fit the usage.

What advice are you offering customers?

While cheese is popular at any time of the year, we see peaks and troughs of particular cheese types as the seasons come and go. As such, we seek to advise caterers on some of the many ways our products can be used throughout the year. For example, the popularity of mozzarella is at its height during the summer, working well in dishes such as the iconic caprese salad or in sandwiches and panini.

With competition from the high street rife, it’s arguably more important than ever for caterers to get their lunchtime offering right. Diversify your standard menu with subs of the day like an ‘Italian sub’ using products such as our mozzarella slices, which are pre-cut and ideal for lunchtime favourites. The slices offer caterers a high-quality, authentic ingredient that allows them to compete with the very best the high street has to offer.

What menu trends do you see emerging that will affect your business?

With our Galbani brand from Italy and Président with its roots firmly in France, we’re never short of gastronomic inspiration. Countries renowned and respected for their culinary expertise, Italy and France stir a real passion in all food lovers for high-quality, great-tasting food.

There is an emergence of street food taking the UK by storm, with vendors producing simple food with bold flavours, focusing on tradition and quality to add value. As such, authenticity has become an important part of any food offering, and one that allows the cost sector to compete with street vendors and the high street. For the true taste of Italy, it has to be Galbani.

If you had one wish for the next 12 months, what would it be?

2016 will see the launch of our new website and brochure, which we hope will inspire caterers to make more of their dairy offering, while highlighting our range of Italian cured meat and salamis. This will be supported by a number of new product offerings – particularly under our Président and Galbani brands – each specifically developed for the foodservice market. Our wish is to deliver our key message to all chefs and suppliers: Lactalis provides products with superior taste and quality. It’s about educating caterers on the importance of quality and the strength of the brand to add value to their offering.

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