UK: Spam to roll out in easy-to-open plastic tubs

Spam, the school dinner horror, the bête noir of healthy eating campaigners and Monty Python’s favourite food, is to come in plastic tubs for the first time.

The new Spam format, which hits Tesco next month and Asda in August, and will sit alongside existing tinned Spam products, marks the 75-year-old brand’s first move outside cans.

The easy-to-open resealable tubs (rsp: £1.79/200g) has been developed to appeal to a younger demographic and grow the “static” canned meat category, said brand owner Hormel Foods.

“No major brand has offered a plastic tub as an easy-opening format before and the development is expected to attract both new and lapsed users to the brand,” it said.

The brand will be underlining the new lighter-weight, less waste packaging and its relevance for different meal occasion with the roll out of a six figure marketing push. The nationwide campaign will target leading women’s titles and its fans on social media sites as well as specialist camping and caravanning media.

Although the latest figures (Nielsen, year to date May 2013) show Spam’s market share in the UK is static at 61%, this rose 8.3% in 2012, the company said. Sales also increased 10% year on year and Hormel’s second quarter results, issued on 23 May noted that the international team had achieved “excellent results led by higher sales of the Spam family of products”.

Looking at Spam

Hormel’s Spam and similar products, say some reports, face an uphill struggle at a time when healthy eating and concern over childhood obesity are at the top of the political agenda.

Last week, the Department of Health unveiled a new traffic light labelling regime that will identify products that are high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar with red logos.

Spam, which weighs in with 280 calories, 23.9g of fat, 9.6g of saturated fat and 3.25g of salt for a 100g portion, would feature an array of red stop signs.

The saturated fat is almost half – 44.8per cent – of the recommended maximum for an adult for an entire day, while the salt is more than half.

Spam was first created in the USA in 1937 by Hormel foods, however it did not arrive on British shores until 1941 where it was gratefully received by a nation coping with the privations caused by World War 2 and rationing.

The recipe includes chopped pork and ham, added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, and sodium nitrite as a preservative, which are ground together and formed into blocks before being allowed to cool, cut and canned. The trademark gelatinous glaze forms from the cooling of meat stock.

From its earliest days, spam was presented as being both cheap and enormously versatile, suitable for everything from sandwiches to school dinners.

It was this that the Monty Python team seized on for the famous 1970s sketch set in greasy spoon café where everything on the menu came with spam.

The idea of spam being everywhere and inescapable saw the word seized on by the internet generation to describe the torrent of unwanted, junk email.

The spam sold in the UK is made by Hormel’s European partner, Tulip, which has a UK head office in Warwick.

The product’s website makes a brave effort to overcome spam myths insisting: ‘Whatever you may hear, no ‘scrapings’ or ‘useless bits’ of pork or ham have ever found their way into spam products.

‘Spam chopped pork and ham is primarily high quality pork shoulder meat and ham (actually hand cut off the bone). These are ground together with water, a little sugar, salt and spiced flavouring to be cooked in the can which gives it, its long shelf life.’

Sources: The Grocer, Daily Mail UK