International Food category skyrocketing in Grocery


Tony MountfordThe rise in popularity of cooking shows has been good for the International Food category in your local supermarket. We spoke with Tony Mountford, Managing Director of Enso International Foods, who has seen significant growth in this category over the last five years. Distributing a wide range of products, including the ‘Exotic’ brand, he is well positioned to comment on industry trends.

“We started off by looking at what would be a sustainable range. Our story was that people who had travelled would cook more,” he said, and that has indeed been the case.  “We’re more adventurous in life in general, and we’re looking to try new things. Take the example of soba noodles; “if there’s a recipe in the Woman’s Weekly for soba noodle salad, we struggle to be able to keep up with the demand,” he added.

We now take variety for granted. “Thirteen years ago when we bought the business, ‘International Food’ appeared to often be defined by a container of vermicelli or the like”, said Tony. Enso started with six product lines in Foodstuffs, with other channels to market including wholesalers and some Asian specialty shops. Now with over 400 lines, a significant percentage of their business is into supermarkets, and they’re expanding their distribution networks steadily.

To extend their ranging in supermarkets, Enso monitor food trends globally, keeping an eye out for the next ‘coco water’ type products. To get uptake on new products can be somewhat of a slow process.”We are very fortunate to have strong relationships with the category managers and buyers, allowing us to ask them “so what do you think?” which is important”, he said. As category captain in some locations, Enso utilise plannogramming software for space optimisation and retail execution.

Enso have made a significant investment in their sales teams, and have recently implemented the Opmetrix CRM, Sales and Merchandising solution to take pain points away including having to input spreadsheet order data awkwardly on iPads. Tony sees the key benefits of Opmetrix include sytemisation of sales processes, visibility “without having to look over anyone’s shoulder,” and the ability to “direct the troops” as they grow.