S&A Foods, the UK independent food manufacturer, has unveiled a new range of tapas for home consumption. Of Spanish origin, tapas snacks have been growing in popularity in Europe over the last decade, and S&A Foods managing director Perween Warsi believes it is time to facilitate the introduction of ready-made tapas for convenient use at home.

Retailing under the Perween Tapas brand, the new range is made up of three selections, each comprising three dishes: one selection is based on spicy meat, one on seafood and there's also a vegetarian selection. Tapas can be time-consuming and fiddly to make, and the range aims to take the grind out of the preparation. The individual dishes need simply to be heated up in the microwave or oven and are then ready to serve.

The Mintel research association provided an overview of current markets that indicates the opportunity for tapas producers in the UK. Consumers have become familiar with the concept of tapas snacks through visits to Spain, the most popular destination for British holidaymakers, and recent years have seen a modest wave of tapas restaurant openings in the UK. Mintel estimates there are already 400 Spanish restaurants and tapas bars in the country.

What happens in restaurants tends to trickle down into 'at home' eating, so as tapas restaurants become more prevalent, so consumers will seek tapas to enjoy at home. Current trends reinforce the importance of convenience to modern consumers, so food manufacturers are increasingly looking to package food in easy-to-prepare formats. Perween Tapas tap into the growing demand for convenient and tasty food, and they should stimulate consumer enthusiasm for exotic, foreign cuisine.

S&A Foods has been operating for 14 years and specialises in 'international' chilled ready meals. It employs 1300 people and has an annual turnover of £100m (US$142.8m).