The UK's Burgeoning Popcorn Sector

Popcorn as a snack in the UK has always been the poor relative to the far more popular crisp, confined to consumption with a movie more often than not at the cinema.

As the single largest consumer of popcorn worldwide, the US conversely has always had a far more liberated attitude to popcorn. They microwave popcorn in the home to be consumed whilst watching TV, buy caramel and cheese corn in gourmet popcorn shops in the shopping mall; and even use mini popcorn machines as a fundraising tool at school and charity events.

However the UK is slowly catching on and the most recognised brand in the UK popcorn market, Butterkist, upped the ante at the beginning of last year with its first TV ad campaign in a decade. Commenting in the advertising industry magazine “The Drum”, Maria Townsend, Buttkerkist senior brand manager at Tangerine Confectionery said of their ad campaign:

“Consumers love popcorn when they go to the movies or when they are at home...what we want to do is have consumers view the product as a snack for any occasion and broaden and tap into other snacking occasions.”

The race is now on to reinvent popcorn and re-position the movie staple as a gourmet treat, a healthier snack and essentially a cut above the crisp.

The premium snacking brand Tyrells entered the market late last year with its Proper Popcorn launch for the “Popcornoisseur”;

Available in lightly sea salted, sweet & salty and sour cream & jalapeno, the line would bring "upmarket and adult appeal" to popcorn, said CEO David Milner whilst talking to The Grocer magazine. "Popcorn has an image of being sweet and only for younger consumers so we decided to give it premium, gourmet appeal just as we have done with potato chips," said Milner.

And finally launched at the 2010 Specialty & Fine Food Fair in London, along came “popalicious” “air popped” Peter Popple's Popcorn. The brainchild of entrepreneur Louise George, Peter Popple filled a gap in the market for a healthy range of snacks. With its quirky Peter Popple P character for the kids and positioning as a lower fat, healthier alternative to crisps to please mums this is surely an expanding market.

Despite popcorn emerging as one of the fastest growing snack markets in the UK, per capita consumption of popcorn remains relatively low. This suggests that popcorn production could still be highly lucrative for new entrants to the market.

ATB have helped several small producers get up and running with gourmet popcorn equipment and popping machines. Whether you’re looking to produce caramel corn, gourmet savoury flavours or straightforward salt and sweet ATB can provide advice on Cretors market leading range. Contact Sarah for further information and a free site survey on 0845 625 1969.

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