Maev Martin talks to Tom Gannon, co-founder of Cali Cali Foods, about the recent launch of a bespoke healthier options menu in the forecourt channel.
The Cali Cali range of bars, sauces, seasonings, snacks and crisps is widely available across multiple channels in Ireland.
“The strength and support of the Boyne Valley Group sales and national accounts teams has given us the opportunity to be able to develop invaluable relationships with fantastic retailers such as Tesco, Dunnes, Centra, SuperValu, Applegreen, Circle K and the BWG Group, which includes Spar, Mace, Londis and Eurospar, to name just a few,” says Gannon.
“We have also been overwhelmed by the support from the foodservice and sports nutritional channels across the country.”
Cali Cali recently launched a bespoke Cali Cali Healthier Options menu at the Junction 14 Mayfield service station in Co Kildare.
The Cali Cali menu includes dishes such as Peri Peri Loaded Sweet Potato Fries, a Smokey Chipotle Chilli Bowl, and “a mouth wateringly delicious” Sriracha Chicken Brioche Bap.
“As well as being super tasty and convenient, the new menu has been created to provide a healthy, hearty option for those on the go,” says Gannon.
All dishes are created using Cali Cali’s range of Californian street food-inspired sauces and seasonings, which are available in retailers nationwide.
“In the deli business, consumers have moved away from wanting a simple ham and cheese sandwich and now expect to be able to sample flavours of the world, regardless of where they are, or even what time of day it is!” he says.
“We have seen this with the rise of the food truck movement, and first-hand with the success of our own street food truck, which has had pop up locations in The Avon at Dundrum Town Centre, as well as at festivals and events across the island of Ireland.”
Gannon says that the bespoke menu launch at the Junction 14 Mayfield service station is about bringing incremental value to the forecourt channel.
“This is what our move into the forecourt space, as well as our many other brand collaborations, is all about,” he says.
One of Cali Cali’s most successful brand collaborations has been with healthy food company Chopped.
“We have been fortunate to partner with the Chopped group for a second time on the Chopped Cali Cali Tijuana Choppito, a limited-edition menu item available across Ireland and the UK,” he says.
“Following the initial launch in 2020, we saw triple digit sales growth with the Choppito range as a result of the Cali Cali partnership, so we’re confident that this can work across many different food service channels. Each time we kick off a new collaboration or menu launch, our aim is not just to promote the Cali Cali brand, but to show the strength of collaborating with key partners and how all the brands involved can speak to a new, but like-minded, audience.
"The foodservice channel gives Cali Cali an unrivalled opportunity for consumers to sample our sauces and seasonings as they are meant to be used – in easy to make, healthy, but unbelievably tasty, meals. This is something that no amount of sampling salsa on a breadstick will ever achieve! We believe that with our expertise, as well as the diversity of the menu options, we can bring incremental sales to the counters, not just in delis, but across all foodservice outlets,” he adds.
Cali Cali’s range of nutritious bars includes two newly launched flavours - Chocolate & Salted Caramel and Chocolate Coconut & Goji Berries.
These join Chocolate & Himalayan Sea-Salt and Chocolate & Peanut, which hit the shelves in January 2022.
“They received an overwhelmingly positive response from retailers and consumers alike and we now plan to ensure that we are building up our distribution with that range,” he says.
When it comes to their street food sauces portfolio, the Cali Cali product development team have been working on a new flavour that will come to market this summer.
“We are always guided by consumer insights and global trends when developing new flavour extensions,” he says. “We have also decided to develop a new flavour for our crisps range that we feel will become a fan favourite with Irish consumers and internationally too.”
While Cali Cali will always invest in the Irish market as it continues to “add incremental value” to the categories it plays in, Gannon sees major opportunities for the brand as cities across the world reopen.
“With the support of the Boyne Valley export team, we hope to be able to maximise this re-emerging opportunity to get in front of our consumers again,” he says.
“A key focus for us will be consumer sampling, as well as further collaborations to ensure that we get our key message across to consumers – healthy food doesn’t need to be bland, and tasty food doesn’t need to be complicated.”