Birds Eye UK Marketing Director Steve Chantry talks to Asian Trader about the iconic frozen food brand

Tell us about the history of your brand.
Birds Eye is one of the household brand names in the UK. In 1922 Clarence Birdseye started the business and patented a quick freezing process. We launched our first burger in 1950, our first fish finger in 1955 and developed the Captain Birds Eye character in 1967. The brand has gone from strength to strength. In 2010 it was estimated that 4.2 million Brits eat Birds Eye every day. We are present in 11 markets across Europe. We are in the business of food solutions which help make consumers' lives better.
How big is your business now?
Birds Eye is the UK's leading frozen food brand. Over four million people eat it every day. The overall brand is worth £500m at retail sales value.
What targets do you have for the business in the next few years?
A year and a half ago we changed our strategy to Better Meals Together. Our new ad campaign Food of Life aims to expand the footprint of frozen food in British meals. We have introduced Steamfresh innovation in veg which is going from strength to strength. We are launching Stir Your Senses, a range of products to feed today's more adventurous lifestyles. The cuisine from around the world can be cooked in 10 minutes. It is fantastic tasting food which allows consumers to have new experiences while cooking. We are immensely excited about what Stir Your Senses can bring to the category. That is the next step on a long journey. We have had unparalleled access to the evolving needs of consumers, which has allowed us to bring more innovation. We have a new campaign with ITV around fish fingers, peas and Birds Eye Chicken Grills, aiming to drive category growth.
What is the secret of Birds Eye’s success?
We have intimate knowledge of food as a whole and of what consumers look for in food. We spend immense time trying to understand consumer feedback and conducting research to understand what consumers are looking for in food. All we do is to help consumers enjoy meals. We have one of the most loved brands in the UK. It gives us immense responsibility to lead the category.
Do you have any new launches in the pipeline?
We are launching Stir Your Senses, a range of eight stir-cooked meals ready to eat in 10 minutes. In-house Birds Eye chefs have developed ingredients from around the world, from countries such as Italy, Thailand and India. The range offers consumers a pleasurable eating experience in a short cooking time. The all-in-one meals cater for time-poor lifestyles. With an RRP of £2.99 for 350g bags, Stir Your Senses provides a hassle-free meal solution.  I believe Stir Your Senses is even bigger and better than Inspirations, which we launched last year. The needs and shopper behaviours met by Stir Your Senses fit the independent sector more than other channels. The launch will be supported with a £2m TV spend plus unprecedented sampling and PR to drive maximum awareness. It is one of our biggest ever launches.
Why do you think your brands have so many loyal fans?
It is a combination of loyalty and innovation. People grew up eating Birds Eye fish fingers and peas. Nowadays people like to try different things but there is still an amazing brand affinity and loyalty. Stir Your Senses meets the evolving needs of consumers today. The range is made with the best quality expected from us. Every meal is of fantastic quality to ensure consumers will come back.
What is a typical day for you?
I'm not sure there is such a thing. My job is amazing, I work with one of the most loved brands in the UK. I am amazed how many different products I eat and I enjoy every one. I get to hear what consumers say about our products. I also spend a lot of time with the trade helping our sales colleagues deliver innovation and build their customer base. Birds Eye is a fantastic place to work. Our meeting rooms are named after our products. Our staff canteen stocks mainly our own products. It is a stimulating job and I am surrounded by a wonderful team of passionate foodies.
How can independent retailers make the most of your products?
The majority of Birds Eye products are tailored to independent retailers. Tagliatelle con Porcini and South Indian Chicken Curry in particular from the new Stir Your Senses range are ideal for independents. Stocking a variety of ranges is important for independents. It helps to stock well known brands consumers can trust. Stores should meet consumers' needs by stocking a variety of products, catering for a range of occasions to maximise expenditure from all the shoppers that go into the store. Stir Your Senses is a huge opportunity to grow frozen food.
If you could pick one thing that makes your brand memorable, what would it be?
Every British child grows up with that classic staple, fish  fingers. Kids and adults love it, together with Birds Eye peas it is iconic. Launched in 1955, Birds Eye Fish Fingers sold 600 tonnes in its first year and sells many times more that amount now. Fish fingers is an iconic, huge product and we want to drive it more.
What is the ultimate aim for Birds Eye?
The ultimate aim for Birds Eye is to continue to be the leading frozen food brand and to excite consumers and shoppers. We want to continue to drive growth through insight led innovation, to help people find new ways to enjoy our products. We want to be involved in everyone's meal times. We have a responsibility to innovate and find new ways of talking to consumers. We want to educate retailers to help them drive category growth. We also have a responsibility to be at the front of sustainability. We have made an important pledge to reduce food waste. We have pledges around the sourcing of our products and to help consumers make healthier food choices.