There are various schools of thought when it comes to the ideal fuel for barbecuing. There are those who love the ease and control of a gas barbecue, while others swear by the flavour imparted by cooking over charcoal. Whatever the preference, Fritz Schur Consumer Products has a product to suit.
“We have long experience in the barbecue market and particularly in barbecue charcoal,” says CEO Carsten Wandorf, who does not reveal which fuel he prefers himself. “There is no right or wrong when it comes to eating outdoors – as long as you enjoy the experience. The sale of gas barbecues is on the rise as a whole but our sales are fairly balanced between the two. Some people will go for gas because it is quick and convenient and others will always prefer charcoal for the flavour and the experience.”
Charcoal briquettes are the heart and soul of the company and it continues to invest in developing a fuel that meets its customers’ needs. “Lighting charcoal briquettes is always an issue,” says Mr. Wandorf. “People want a briquette that is easy to light but does not smell of accelerant. At the same time, they don’t want to spend too long tending the fire while the coals get up to cooking temperature.”
One answer to this problem is to use the BBQ JET Air Booster from the company’s Quick Glow brand range. In an evolution from the charcoal chimney, the briquettes are brought up to temperature in a superheated stream of air and then transferred to the barbecue for cooking.
“Like all of the products we carry, it is designed to take the faff out of barbecuing by making the process easier or cleaner,” says Mr. Wandorf. “Like any fire, the market needs to be fed with new fuel to keep burning.”
Chefs like Jamie Oliver are the ones throwing fuel onto the fire by demonstrating that there are more adventurous dishes than sausages that can be cooked outdoors. “Where they lead, the market follows,” notes Mr. Wandorf. “But it is not just food inspiration that they offer but a lifestyle. For us, it is not enough simply to have a good product, you must have a brand to promote it. That is why we are very pleased to be teaming up with Jamie Oliver on a new line of briquettes. These will be manufactured in our own factory in Indonesia and made from coconut shells, which have a high calorific value and offer long-lasting heat.”
There is no right or wrong when it comes to eating outdoors – as long as you enjoy the experience. Carsten WandorfCEO
Jamie Oliver branded products are welcomed by retailers as strong performers. Fritz Schur Consumer Products is using them as part of its strategy to expand into the German market. “We first added barbecue products to our FMCG portfolio in Scandinavia around 25 years ago and started our export journey in 2013,” explains Mr. Wandorf. “Now we want to become established in the German market. We have already conducted extensive research and are currently paving the way to becoming a significant player in German barbecue sales by the end of 2020.”
There is already a strong culture of outdoor cooking in the German-speaking countries of Europe that Fritz Schur Consumer Products is keen to tap into. “The European barbecue market is well-developed but still has huge potential for our products,” insists Mr. Wandorf. “From Germany, we will be targeting the Benelux and the UK.”
A key part of the strategy is to ramp up its presence on social media. Here, too, the partnership with Jamie Oliver should pay dividends. “We will also cooperate with our retail customers so that we exploit every channel,” adds Mr. Wandorf.
The new strategy represents a broader change in the company’s approach. Founded in 1846, it has traded in consumer goods since the mid-70s. As digitalisation has taken over and radically changed the nature of retail, the company has moved away from classical trading and towards a usage dedicated business.
“We are much more consumer-focused and intent on offering a comprehensive range of products in each category,” says Mr. Wandorf. “It is no good any more to be a general stockist, you have to specialize in a particular area.” This season has been a good one for the company but it really expects to hit its stride in the coming year when, hopefully, the barbecue season will be just as profitable.