A French fry is a French fry, right? Not if you’re a company called McCain.
Family-owned and based in Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada, the 60-plus-year-old company is responsible for 1 in 3 of servings of French fries around the world. And though it started out in French fries – and is still there – McCain has evolved to breaded and battered items like onion rings, jalapeno poppers and mozzarella sticks that are being scooped up by the hundreds in bars and restaurants across the world. And it’s all exploding, according to Susan Wasco, Sr. Director Of Marketing Prepared Food.
“Since we were opened in the mid-50s by the two McCain brothers, Harrison and Wallace, we’ve become one of the world’s largest providers of French fries and other potato products,” she points out. “We operate in many countries around the world and you may not know our name, but you know our fries.”
Foodservice was the company’s beginning, and Wasco notes that its initial intent was to serve that industry with frozen potatoes to save on labor and profit from the point that frozen foods weren’t readily available at that time.
Prepared foods, like all its breaded and battered appetizers, are really heating up, Wasco adds. “Sales of our Brew City brand mozzarella cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers, macaroni and cheese bites, as well as our breaded and battered vegetables, like onion rings, zucchini, pickles, and mushrooms, are booming,” she explains.
Whether it’s because of an improving economy – or the great taste of its products – McCain is seeing a resurgence in these items. “And it’s a place where we have great expertise,” Wasco says proudly.
There’s another reason why business is increasing, she thinks. “Craft beers.” McCain’s Brew City appetizers lead the pack in orders from bars and restaurants. “Today bar and restaurant operators are looking for ways to distinguish what they have and how they’re different,” Wasco declares. “As consumers are willing to go back out and spend, the big question is, what do you have that we can’t get elsewhere? It can be price, or value or convenience but in many cases, with this new food and craft beer culture that’s evolved, what customers are really seeking is a unique culinary experience. It doesn’t have to be elevated or fancy, just something unique, and that can be in how you serve it. Restaurant owners who use our Brew City products and who are successful in their own right have worked with us to showcase how our products support their overall success.”
Making it their own, how they serve it, what they top it with, can all draw customers. An operator in the Midwest who has created its own seasoning and sauce blend to go with McCain fries has lines out the door, says Wasco.
What McCain offers that’s unique to the brand is culinary suggestions for ways to menu it, Wasco reports. “Operators can click through a listing of items and see how we’ve leveraged them to create unique dishes. An operator can take them as they are or if it’s someplace that has a chef on site, they’re great thought starters. One idea we have is beer Jack Reuben sliders. Sliders are huge, of course, but if you have your own signature corned beef, for example, you could take our idea of the Reuben sliders and make it your own with your own special sauce. Or grab the picture right off our website and put that on your menu.”
McCain also offers a menu-naming tool where operators can talk about how they used a particular product, along with other creative suggestions.
The company provides a profit calculator where items can be keyed in and surveyed to see what’s selling. “It shows how you can upgrade the item to drive profit for the operation,” Wasco says. “It’s for operators who could use support in that area.”
The Brew City brand can really drive business, she believes. “Our Brew City products tend to be a premium vs. core item. Whether it’s onion rings, cheese nuggets or poppers, they’re premium-priced and what we see is it plays out in profits. Yes, it’s a premium price from a cost perspective but it’s a great way to drive premium price points on your menu, as well.”
Wasco attributes the company’s success to its great expertise and versatility across its portfolio, both potato and non-potato. “We’re very customer-focused so our insights, the way we go to market, is all very strongly grounded in the needs of our customers. That’s a big driver of what we do every day,” she concludes.
For more information, go to mccainusafoodservice.com