World Cuisine

Saffron Highway sees the rise of worldwide delicacies | 2021-07-19

STAMFORD, CONN. — A danger calculated in early 2020 has helped Saffron Highway benefit from the elevated demand for world flavors throughout the pandemic.

American Halal Co., Inc., which produces frozen meals, meal baggage, sauces and snacks impressed by world delicacies. Its subsidiary obtained early warning of the upcoming pandemic in late 2019. A number of crew members had kinfolk and China, and one among them expressed concern about Wuhan.

“What we heard within the media warned us that it was not what was occurring within the area, so our crew determined to triple our inventory,” stated Adnan Durrani, founder and CEO of Saffron Highway. “When COVID hit, we had been 300% stocked.”

With frozen meal options flying off the cabinets throughout the pandemic, Saffron Highway closed 2020 with 47% year-over-year progress in its predominant product line. About 30% of this progress got here from new clients.

“We have seen quite a lot of progress from customers who’ve by no means heard of our model earlier than, however who, by default, are shopping for as a result of our opponents are out of inventory,” Durrani stated.

Shoppers’ sense of wanderlust throughout quarantine additionally boosted gross sales, he added. A panel examine performed by Saffron Highway earlier this yr discovered {that a} important a part of its progress got here from shopping for a share of different frozen manufacturers, not different world delicacies manufacturers.

“Shoppers have moved from a few of these Americana manufacturers to world cuisines and are usually not going again,” Mr. Durrani stated.

He expects the development to proceed as extra customers flip to world flavors. Necessary regional cuisines embrace Southwest China, dwelling to the peppery, spicy, and colourful Szechuan dishes, and Southeast China, dwelling to Cantonese delicacies, which is extra frequent in the US. Mr. Durrani sees alternatives in Korean delicacies as effectively.

“The Asian area nonetheless has quite a lot of innovation to go,” he stated. “Korean meals is a good space the place we come very early, so we’re considering of relaunching it. We’re additionally taking part in with the Vietnamese and seeing what is going on on there.”

For Saffron Highway, the important thing to profitable innovation is balancing originality with scalability. New merchandise ought to honor the tradition of a area and on the identical time have broad attraction.

“It is not simply stamping one thing and calling it Mexican or Indian,” stated Mr. Durrani. “We take into consideration what these areas rejoice and what are the deep traditions of those cuisines. We additionally realized early on that we will begin at Entire Meals, however we want to verify it might probably scale historically from day one.

He cited the corporate’s introduction to Mexican meals for instance.

“We did not simply make a taco like all people else does,” he stated. “We thought Mexican meals was foolish sufficient, so we began a pocket enchilada utilizing actual poblano peppers, nixtamal corn, and Oaxaca cheese.”

One other a part of the corporate’s technique is to have a look at developments which have turn into mainstream and incorporate them into the worldwide fare. For example, SKU #2 is a Thai Rooster pad made with gluten-free noodles.

New merchandise in Saffron Highway’s pipeline leverage the plant-based development, together with the primary handheld product. The corporate develops artisan wrap made with lavash, a skinny Mediterranean bread.

“We did not desire a thick burrito or a thick naan full of rice and different fillings,” Mr. Durrani stated. “If we’ll make a wrap, it must be not solely genuine, but in addition wholesome and clear.”

As a substitute of plant-based protein from isolates, vegetarian wraps have what Mr. Durrani calls “entire plant-based protein.” Variations embrace a rooster masala wrap made with chickpeas and beans and a cheese wrap.

“Most plant-based proteins are literally very extremely processed protein isolates,” he stated. “We’ve got numerous vegan and vegetarian merchandise which are trending throughout COVID, so we thought, ‘Let’s do a wrap, however let’s do it with entire plant-based protein constituted of actual chickpeas, not simply isolates.”