top of page

Santa Maria bring Latin American tastes to UK consumers

The challenge


Everyone has their favourite curry or Chinese dish. Italian food is a staple of many UK households and TexMex flavours are gradually finding their way onto more and more British plates. So, the question is, “what do you eat if you fancy something different?”


This is a dilemma that the Milton Keynes based team at Santa Maria faced. The business that provides the world with a wide variety of TexMex products had commissioned a number of research studies to understand what British shoppers wanted. They investigated how they shop, how they cook and how they use the various items in their basket.  


What Santa Maria discovered was that consumer needs were not being met and they wanted new flavours to excite the taste buds. As a result of further concept testing, Latin American cuisine came through as a clear winner.

Carmel Martin, Category Manager at Santa Maria said

"LatAm food is a growing trend in the UK. It’s driven by an increase in consumers travelling to South America and experiencing new flavours. Latin American flavours are vibrant and fun and consumers want to recreate them back at home. What we have set out to do is to make it easy for them to succeed in their own kitchens with a comprehensive range of sauces, seasonings and accompaniments”.

santa maria

The Santa Maria development team went ahead and created a broad range of products, inspired by Latin America.

The plan was to offer a mix and match approach so that consumers can personalise the meal rather than being limited to a kit format which typically results in people being too scared to change any of the ingredients.

Martin Purdy, Santa Maria’s Country Manager said

“We know from many years’ experience that once a shopper buys a kit they rarely move away from the format and are scared to change any ingredient.  This approach limits their culinary repertoire and also limits the potential size of the market. With this in mind, we have offered a wide variety of components that can be mixed to produce hundreds of flavour combinations.”

With the range of products developed, thoughts move on to how to present a new sub sector of World Food to the UK retailers.  It was at this stage in the process that the Santa Maria team turned to Sodalite Creative.

The approach


Santa Maria have worked closely with Sodalite Creative for many years, with Sodalite Creative supporting many Santa Maria space planning initiatives to the trade. Ross Hickford, Shopper Marketing Manager, said “We needed a new way to bring the LatAm range to life.  We wanted an approach that was as vibrant as the products themselves. Simply presenting PowerPoint was not going to be enough to engage the retailers. Following discussion with Tony Jerodiaconou at Sodalite Creative, we decided that immersive VR was the best approach”.

Tony Jerodiaconou, Sodalite’s Managing Director said

“We are often approached about bringing our client's plans to life. We have seen a huge increase in immersive VR. We use our high-resolution virtual environments coupled with the Oculus Rift goggles to make the viewer feel like they are actually in the store. There’s no better way to engage an audience. For Santa Maria we also made the entire display interactive which meant that all products could be taken from the shelf and rotated. This allowed the viewer to read the label and  engage with the products. Interestingly, the models we created were generated from artwork because the real products were not in production”.

The Santa Maria team wanted the presentation to the trade to be thought of as an event rather than just another supplier presentation. This was achieved by delivering their vision at a number of offsite locations. Each location was dressed in a Latin American style to reinforce the new range and helped the audience to engage with the vision rather than worry about the matters of the day.

The result


Naturally, the effectiveness of any initiative is judged by its success. It is safe to say that the initial phase of the launch has been successful, with all retailers taking a variety of products from the range. Morrison’s have fully embraced the new range and are planning a gondola end promotion to provide a solid start to the launch. 


Only time will tell how well the range will do but with a great taste and easy preparation we are confident shoppers and consumers will love the taste of Latin America.


At last you won’t need to travel the length of the Machu Picchu trail to experience exciting and vibrant Latin American flavours!

bottom of page