The company hasn’t revealed the name or nature of the products, but has stated that, while they will retain the Calbee brand feel, the new offerings will be a move away from its traditional Japanese-inspired products, such as Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks made from green peas and rice.
According to business development manager Grant Martin, the snacks will be available in the UK early in the new year in flavors more suited to the Western palates, like cheese and onion, and barbecue.
Calbee is also looking into the use of red lentils and other pulse-based products.
The snacks will be baked rather than fried in keeping with the company’s good-for-you philosophy.
Substantial leap in turnaround
Calbee UK looks to follow its parent company’s successful growth, which commands a 52% share of the snack market in Japan.
The Leeds-based operation expects its turnaround for its second year of operations to be £5.7m ($7m), compared to its year-one turnover of £750,000 ($928,000).
This may be a massive jump, but it’s in line with the company’s projection of being a £60m ($74.6) business within five years, said Martin.
At an open meeting to share company insights, category insight controller Hugh Taylor explained the idea behind setting up a company in the UK to launch Japanese-inspired savoury snacks.
“The category growth potential for healthier snacks was clear and gave us the opportunity to create a point of difference for Calbee versus the established supplier base. We built on this by investing heavily in consumer research, bringing a fresh perspective and new insights to the retail trade.
“This approach has helped us to secure listings for Yushoi in retail stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Whole Foods Market,” he said.
Moving beyond our borders
Calbee UK has now set its sights on growing exports of the popular snack, particularly in Baltic states like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. It has also established an online sales presence in Germany and Switzerland and has secured a deal with a private Danish retailer.
Last year, the company launched the Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks as a healthy alternative to fried potato chips. It was the first product to be made in Calbee’s plant in Deeside.
The £1.2bn ($1.4bn) parent company was founded in Japan more than 65 years ago and is one of the largest snack companies in the world.