Chinese New Year, which will be the Year of the Pig, is almost upon us, giving retailers the chance to grow sales of rice and sauces.

Chinese New Year is the first key festival in the year where the rice category sees increase in sales.
In convenience the week encompassing Chinese New Year has experienced a growth of 7.2% from 2016 to 2018 (IRI).
However, 2018 (+2.9%) experienced slightly less growth compared to 2017 (+4.4% according to IRI) as a consequence of competing for shelf space alongside Valentine’s Day.
This year Chinese New Year falls Tuesday 5 February meaning the convenience sector is well placed to dedicate shelf space to the festival ahead of Valentine’s Day.
“Chinese New Year provides an opportunity to highlight the convenience and versatility of the rice category, providing inspiration for consumers on top up missions or looking for food for tonight,” comments Dilip Srinivasan, Commercial Marketing Manager at Tilda. “By promoting a total meal solution on an end, or through linked promotions, retailers can drive incremental sales, as well as give consumers confidence to rely on their local store for a range of holidays and occasions.”
Tilda ready-to-heat (RTH) Basmati performed well during Chinese New Year 2018. Retailers should look to stock the most popular SKUs during this period; Tilda Lime & Coriander (62% growth) Tilda Coconut (33% growth) and Egg Fried Rice (16% growth), while Tilda Basmati grew by 25% as a result of promotional ends driving consumers to the main fixture.
The Tilda RTH portfolio offers more than 21 varities all of which are suitable for vegatarians, gluten free and contain no artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives, giving retailers a verstatile range of products that cater for a variety of dietary requirments.
However, it’s not all about RTH. Scratch cooking is having a real resurgence thanks to the growth of healthy eating, which continues to dominate with consumers constantly looking for innovative ways in which to introduce healthier foods into their diets.
Tilda’s focus on purity, quality and providing only the best products which deliver on taste, health and ethical credentials helps retailers respond to the latest consumer demands. Tilda is the number one brand in Dry rice and accounts for 22.5% of value share in GB & NI convenience.
Tilda Pure Basmati 500g remains the best-selling and highest value Dry SKU in convenience. Tilda’s Dry Rice block packs grew by 4.2% in2018 vs Chinese New Year 20173. While perfect for Thai dishes, Tilda Jasmine 500g grew by 19% for Chinese New Year 2017.
Back on TV
Makers of the world’s best-selling soy sauce, Kikkoman, is once again putting major support behind the brand over the key Chinese New Year period with a TV and online video campaign.
Carrying the strapline Food Loves Kikkoman, the commercial sees its sauce used in a wide range of foods from soups and salads to scrambled eggs and even a salted caramel sauce. This treatment follows the brand objective to remind consumers of Kikkoman’s versatility as an all-purpose seasoning as well as a dipping sauce.
On air now, the campaign will run for five weeks and will be screened across the major TV channels as well as a host of VOD and online platforms.
Bing-yu Lee, Manager, Kikkoman UK said “Following the success of our 2018 campaign we’re again strengthening our position as the universal seasoning and an essential store cupboard ingredient at a key time in our promotional calendar. In the New Year consumers are actively looking for fat-free sauces like Kikkoman to enhance the flavour of everyday foods. Our campaign firmly puts the spotlight on Kikkoman ahead of Chinese New Year.”
Of the top four soy sauce brands (including private label) Kikkoman is the only one that has shown significant growth over the last 12 months, up 6.4% in value year on year (AC Nielsen 52 w/e 13.10.18).
Nisa’s Taste of the Orient promotional event is making a comeback in 2019.
According to figures from Nielsen panel data, 95 per cent of UK households buy into the World Food category with rice and cooking sauces proving ever popular among shoppers.
Top brand labels in the category including Uncle Ben’s, Sharwood’s and Blue Dragon will feature in key offers to shoppers at Nisa as the Chinese New Year is used to encourage increased spending on meal solutions.
Nisa retailers will be offering customers a wide range of products at just £1 including Prawn Crackers, bottles of hoisin or plum sauce and jars of stir fry sauces from Sharwood’s, Uncle Ben’s Express Rice pouches and jars of cooking sauces as well as egg noodles and sweet chilli sauce from Blue Dragon.
Heritage Chinese Collection ready meals will also be available on a 2 for £5 deal.
Ian Redhead, trading controller at Nisa, said: “Our World Food category events were popular in our retailers’ stores throughout 2018 and the Chinese New Year provides the perfect opportunity to revive the event and help to further drive sales in this category for Nisa partners.”
The Taste of the Orient event is live in stores now until 10 February.
Celebrity chefs
Sauce brand Lee Kum Kee is investing in a campaign with celebrity chefs Ken Hom and Gizzi Erskine to drive the Chinese New Year sales opportunity for the category as a whole.
Celebrity Chef and Chinese Food Guru, Ken Hom, comments: “In Chinese tradition, many food items are associated with a certain wisdom or have a special symbolic meaning. For Chinese New Year, fish, chicken, tofu and noodles are some of the must-have items for a traditional family gathering, for example eating a whole chicken with family members means ‘a united front’. Tofu is associated with happiness whilst eating noodles on New Years’ day means good health and longevity in life. It is also tradition to braise mushrooms and lettuce in oyster sauce during Chinese New Year for a year of fortune ahead.”
Retailers should consider bundle deals to encourage shoppers to buy a set of items to create a classic Chinese New Year dish at home.
Despite the nation’s love of Chinese food, usage of Chinese sauces is still fairly unfamiliar to the mainstream public and more education is needed to help consumers and the trade get the best out of the sauces.
For example, sesame oil is great for dressing but it doesn’t hold up well as a deep frying oil as the temperature tolerance is fairly low, similar to olive oil. Dark soy sauce is not meant to be for seasoning, and is mainly used for its colouring. In addition, meat used in stir-fries can be pre-marinated in oyster sauce making it extremely flavoursome. Chinese New Year is the perfect time to get consumers more engaged with Chinese food, products and dishes, and discovering such tips will help drive long term growth. Education can be further supported through product recipe leaflets and cookbooks at shelf level, it can also help drive impulse purchase of both sauces and ingredients.