It may have started out as simple street food in the Caribbean but the humble patty is fast emerging as one of the most popular snacks around in the UK.
Patty maker Wade Lyn, who makes more than 150,000 of them every week at his Birmingham factory Cleone Foods Ltd, says his savoury Island Delight snacks are now selling fast across Britain – and not just in areas with a high African Caribbean population.
His sales manager David Rapkins proudly reveals they are flying off the shelves just as quickly in towns like Lowestoft and Northallerton as they are in areas like Handsworth or Hackney.
They believe some of this new popularity is down to the ‘big up Birmingham’ boost given to the city by Jamaican Olympic sprint heroes Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir.
During the Games, the medal winning athletes thanked Birmingham twice, after their races at the Olympic stadium for giving the Jamaican track and field team such fantastic hospitality during their pre-Olympic training camp at the University of Birmingham.
Their messages of thanks were heard by a television audiences of millions.
“There’s no doubt it has given us a boost due to the current popularity of all things Jamaican,” said Rapkins. “Caribbean food is currently capturing the public imagination and it’s a huge growth area.
“Traditionally this country has always adopted different cuisines such as Indian and Chinese foods, but these markets are static, whereas Caribbean foods are getting a lot more shelf space in supermarkets.”
Other research carried out by the shopper information company Dunnhumby points out that while pies and pasties, which are in the same food category as patties, are eaten by older customers, patties continue to attract younger consumers.
Cleone Foods, a multi award-winning company which employs 50 staff at its base in Icknield Street, Hockley, is now ‘stretching’ the patty brand into snack patties which are proving to be popular buffet food and also creating a version with a flaky pastry casing as an option from the traditional shortcrust base.
“Sales of the new patty version in Asda have been phenomenal, while our traditional patties are selling as much as ever,” added Rapkins, who said Cleone also supplies the other four in the ‘big five’ supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-op.
But there are also a long line of independent shops supplied by Cleone, who Lyn remains loyal to as the ‘backbone’ of his company.
Cleone also supplies a wide range of catering companies, cafes, schools and universities.
Rapkins puts the success of the company down to one main factor. “I think a lot of our success has to do with Wade’s ‘can do’ attitude” he said. “If we go to him with an idea within days he has a plan drawn up.”
Born in Chapelton, Clarendon, Jamaica, Lyn came to the UK with his family in the 1960s. He decided to make authentic patties with the support of his aunt Dell, now in her 80s. She still lives in Chapelton, where she used to run a small bakery.