It took a while to cross the Atlantic and head into British pubs, foodservice outlets and the freezer aisles of retail grocery stores, but Brew City appetizers from McCain Foods are now making a splash in the United Kingdom – and generating cash for those serving up the snacks for customers to munch on while enjoying a glass or two of beer or other beverage of choice.
Introduced more than two decades ago in the USA and originally distributed under the Ore-Ida label (McCain acquired the Ore-Ida foodservice division from H.J. Heinz Co. in 1997), the vanguard of the Brew City range at that time was led by beer-battered skin-on maxi cut and Julienne cut potatoes. They offered operators a more profitable “spuds and suds” menu item with assured post-fry crispness and good holding time.
Fast forward to the UK in September of 2019 and out of an “eight-pack” lineup of products only two are 100% tuber in content, namely IPA Fries and Salt & Pepper Potato Pops, which happen pair well with American IPA and Pilsner, respectively.
The other six Brew City appetizers available at pubs and restaurants are: Mac ’N’ Jack Bites, a combination of Monterey Jack Cheese and macaroni pasta wrapped in a crispy IPA beer batter coating that pairs well with Irish Stout; Gouda and Mozzarella Bites; Onion Straws, featuring strips of onion coated in black pepper crumb, and accompany Blonde beer quite nicely; Frickles, or dill pickle fries surrounded in mustard coating; Fiery Jalapeño Slices of red and green chili peppers in tempura batter that pair favorably with Brown Ale; Herby Tomato & Mozzarella Arancini Bites, a blend of rice, tomato and mozzarella in a crispy herb coating that’s a natural match for Witbier).
The retail range, selling at £2.79 per pack, is marketed under slightly different nomenclature, as follows: Cheesy Brew Bites, IPA Last Order Fries, Onion Straws, Halloumi Fries, Man ’N’ Jack Kegs, Pickle Bar Fries, Arancini Shots, Potato Pint Pots and Fiery Jalapeno Bottle Caps.
“The craft beer trend has really exploded in recent years, so now is the ideal time to launch Brew City, a brand new UK category of proper satisfying frozen food snacks, perfectly paired to craft beers,” remarked Mark Hodge, McCain Foods marketing director. “Gathering with friends over informal food and drinks is also a trend that has really gained pace in recent years. The Brew City range really caters for this, providing retailers with a great way to extend the consumption occasions available in store and to drive repeat purchases as a result.”
McCain is firing up the Brew City range in the UK with a Multi-pronged £6 million media blitz covering television, print, online, out-of-home platforms and social channels. The initial retail market rollout is targeting Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Co-op stores. – Reported by Malcolm Cameron