Early this February McCain Foods attended Pub 17, the only dedicated trade show for the UK’s pub industry. This year saw the event returning to London’s Olympia Conference Centre for its third consecutive run, with hundreds of exhibitors pitching up over the duration of the two days. As our first time attending the show, we were excited to set up shop and share McCain’s pub sector expertise with attendees.
One of our key focuses at this year’s show was to help operators understand the challenges, look ahead, and ultimately capitalise on the opportunities posed by the pub sector. At our Margins Masterclass we did just that, reaffirming how important chips are to customers and offering up new ways that they can be used to maximise profit in pubs. Meanwhile at the McCain stand, we teamed up with one of the UK’s top street food traders and served up a show stopping menu all built around Our Original Choice Chips.
If you couldn’t attend this year’s show, or didn’t manage to head by our stand, then don’t worry; we’ve rounded up our highlights from McCain at Pub 17 below.
Teaming up with street food legends
As this year was McCain’s debut at the show, we decided to do something to make sure that our stand and message really shone out. After all, with over 200 traders exhibiting, catching the attention of attendees and drawing in the crowds was key.
That’s why we teamed up with award winning street food concept Original Fry Up Material to transform stand 160 into our very own McCain Street Food Market; a first for the show.
Although Original Fry Up Material are very much rooted in street food culture - starting out back in 2012 with just a gazebo and an old ambulance - they’re certainly no strangers to the world of pub catering. With years of experience hosting kitchen takeovers, and with a permanent residency at Dalston’s Thee Compasses inn, we thought OFM were the perfect partners to help us share operational tips, trend insights, and recipe inspiration with attendees. However, it wasn’t just insights we served up at the McCain stand, which brings us to…
Serving over 1000 mini portions of topped chips
We’re sure that anyone who passed our stand over the event’s two days will agree that our topped chips menu with Original Fry Up Material was truly one of the stars of the show.
The menu – three topped variations on Our Original Choice Chips – offered up new twists on familiar favourites, and brought together the comfort of the Great British caff’ with the hustle and bustle of the All-American Diner.
First up on the menu were The Steak and Ale Chips; Original Choice chips topped with braised rare breed shortrib, smoked London Porter, and pickled red onions, finished off with a thyme-infused sour cream and homemade ketchup garnish.
The second choice was a play on a pub classic, The Gammon, Egg and Chips; gammon slow braised and then pulled, topped with cheese sauce and a fried quail egg, all served over Original Choice chips.
Finally were the Alpine chalet inspired Les St Moritz Frites; Original Choice with a four-cheese fondue sauce, then topped with pickled onions, cornichons, and crispy bacon – we took out the bacon for a vegetarian option.
The menu showcased the versatility of the McCain Original Choice range perfectly, whilst also giving operators ideas on how trends from the street food world can translate to a pub setting. It’s safe to say that it went down a treat too, with attendees enjoying our chips over two days!
Championing the chip
It wasn’t just at our street food hub where attendees could meet McCain, and on the first day of Pub17 we hosted our Margin Masterclass, a workshop that showcased just how important chips are to pub operators. Jo Holborn – McCain Foodservice Marketing and Category Controller - hosted the session, which reappraised the importance of chips, and highlighted areas of opportunity for those working in the pub sector.
During a 20 minute presentation, we broke the importance of chips down into three areas - relevance, appeal, and market - and demonstrated just how key chips are to the pub offering. After all, our research shows that a huge 75% of pub customers want chips as a side with their meal, and that for most customers they’re the first thing eaten off the plate. That makes chips a benchmark for the whole meal; for the customer, a bad chip can mean a bad meal as a whole.
Jo managed to pack a lot of insights into a fairly short session, but the end attendees were closer to understanding how pubs can offer hot, even, and crispy chips – the kind pub customers want, whilst still keeping profit margins tight.
We covered far too much to summarise in this post, but if you’d like to read all the insights from the session in full then take a look at our Margin Masterclass here.
McCain on tour
Finally, we couldn’t write a post on Pub17 without mentioning the “2017 On Tour” shirts the McCain team were wearing throughout the event. After all, Pub17 was just one in a long line of events that McCain are attending this year, so much so that the team joked that they felt like a band on tour! The shirts were really well received, topping off what was a great two days of networking, important insights, and amazing food.
If you’d like to find out more about how McCain Foodservice can help pub operators, head to our pubs sector area, view our Original Choice range, or get in touch with McCain on our contact us page. Plus, you can view more content from our time at Pub 17 here.