Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Fray Bentos Pies

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Chez Manley, Friday is Fray-day as we celebrate the joy that is the Fray Bentos pie.

It is only as relatively recently as recently that I discovered that Fray Bentos was not named after a brace of culinary geniuses who I had presumed were named Messrs Bentos and Fray. No, gentle reader, it is in fact a small town of 25000 in South West Uruguay, close to the Argentine border.

The town appears to have pretty much always produced processed meat in one way or another and the site of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company (which was responsible for such meaty goodness as Oxo) now boasts a rather smashing museum, presumably dedicated to the mighty Fray Bentos Pie.

Personally I have always favoured the Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney Pudding, but the family Manley grows and, with it, the menu must adapt to meat [sic] every palette. Now Fray-days can stretch beyond steak and kidney, through to such delights as the Fray Bentos Mince Beef and Onion Pie (as recalled in late 2008 for containing shards of metal) or even the god-awful mushroom one.

So, I knew that Fray Bentos was owned by Premier Foods (The UK's largest manufacturer of foodstuffs), and I was not overly surprised to learn that, thanks largely to the UK market, last year the Fray Bentos brand was worth around £30million, but I am shocked to learn that, despite the huge success of the little pies from South America's cattle country (Fray Bentos Pies command a 94.6% market share), Premier Foods intend to change the Fray Bentos brand.

One of the positives from this is a Tender 'Just Steak' Fray Bentos Pie offering, which I welcome, but there is a massive downside.

"all recipes across the entire range have been improved, with a 20% reduction of salt per pie and no artificial colours and flavourings"

Why ruin my Fray Bentos Pie? I love it just the way it is. Oh, and there is more. . .

Why, PF, why? Why destroy the Fray Bentos Pie brand? You know it is successful, why ruin it?

Rob Stacey, who is something to do with Marketing at Fray Bentos pies, apparantly has been saying that: “The evolution of the Fray Bentos pie has led to the perfect recipes being created. These new modern recipes will attract sales from a wider consumer base without losing our original following of “Great British Blokes”. Premier Foods and Fray Bentos are making it our priority to create the ultimate pie and hot canned meal which can be eaten by any family, couple, or student.”

Well Rob Stacey, I say that you are a tit. Fray Bentos Pies were perfect, you are just going to wreck them and the “Great British Blokes” really are not a real persona to target, After all, the “Great British Blokes” are generally not going to be doing the shopping anyway, so you need to be targeting the “Beaten British Wife”, you bell-end.

I mean, really. Fray Bentos Pies are and almost saturation brand, utterly in control of their market, and they go and pull a stunt like this. I suppose that every Marketing Manager wants to put their stamp on a brand, but let's not stamp on the brand, eh?

I'll leave you with the complaints of Tricia, who feels that the new Fray Bentos Pie tine are too thick and even goes as far as questioning whether the new recipe is worth the extra effort needed to get to it.

Fridays may become fry-days at this rate, Fray Bentos. Don't forget your user base. I seriously believe that, in an economic climate which should benefit the Fray Bentos Pie, you may just have made a blunder which simply removes your product from the eyes of the consumer and opens the floor to a new pretender.

Then where will Uraguay be, eh? Apart, obviously, from in South America.