Tienda Inglesa (which actually means “English store”) is a well-known supermarket in Uruguay, and one of the things it’s well-known for are its country events: we had the German event recently and now it’s time for the Brits.

But before we go any further, you absolutely need to watch the TV commercial for the “Fiesta Británica”. It features Lucas Sugo, a “cumbia” singer performing some sort of English version of his hit “Cinco Minutos”. If nothing else, watch it for the fun value, and to spot British stereotypes and icons that you can use in your own marketing when exporting to Latin America:

British food and drink is present on the shelves of Uruguayan supermarkets, not just Tienda Inglesa, all year round. And I don’t only mean Twinning’s, Johnny

Reminds me of those souvenir shops on Oxford Street...

Reminds me of those souvenir shops on Oxford Street…

Walker and other Diageo brands, and Walker’s Shortbread. I mean Worcestershire sauce (even though the American version has now arrived, the British-made Lea & Perrins is still preferred by many), Colman’s mustard and, more recently, some Sharwood’s cooking sauces.

Remember that Uruguay is a market of only 3.4 million people. Yes, it receives a considerable influx of tourists from the region and beyond, mainly in the summer (although our tourism sector has been seriously hit by the situation in Argentina), but it’s November now, and this Tienda Inglesa British week was clearly targeted at the domestic market. And yes, there are many British expats/immigrants here in Uruguay, but not enough to justify the event. Marketing? I doubt it. The event is designed to sell.

… but what are they trying to sell us?

Let’s walk through the aisles and find out…

you might be in for a surprise or two!

Right, it was my lucky day. Not only did I find baked beans but they were from my favourite brand! I’m stocking up, I tell you!

Also, you can see that the price for the large original tin is 60 pesos, which today is about £1.54, double the price in the UK, but you would buy them at that price, considering how tricky it is to bring them (ok, maybe not for every breakfast, but for when you’re properly homesick, or in my case, having a missing-a-good-full-English kind of day).

My very favourite.

My very favourite.

 

So what next?

Jams and marmalades. And we’re into interesting linguistic territory here. I overheard the lovely girl offering free samples talk of “mermelada de naranja”. “Mermelada” in Spanish (at least in Uruguay) is “jam”, of whichever flavour, including orange. Britain is well-known for its preserves, and the event offered a small but perfectly formed selection.

 

jams

Ahhh, I hear you say, and for the right reasons. Bisto and Paxo. This one I found a bit tricky because they are both acquired tastes: gravy and stuffing. Even my English husband agreed they wouldn’t be his top choices, but there we go. I have to say that the “offer” signs were overbearing to the point you could hardly see the products – the 20% off sign is from Scotiabank, a typical feature of Uruguay’s retail sector: you get discounts by paying with certain credit cards on specific products and/or days of the week.

I've always found translating "gravy" difficult. "Meat sauce" just doesn't cut it.

I’ve always found translating “gravy” difficult. “Meat sauce” just doesn’t cut it.

Now, lentil and quinoa chips don’t remind me of Britain too much but hey… I would’ve preferred Tyrrells (which I spotted in Sao Paulo last year) or Seabrook Crisps (just because they’re from Yorkshire). But thumbs up to Cofresh, who not only got their crisps on sale but also their cereal bars.

IMG_20141104_102239

And finally, a very Lidl-like display (c’mon, Tienda Inglesa, you can do better!) for Fox Biscuits. Still no jaffa cakes, but it’s a start…

fox

 

So what next? Well, on Friday I’m off to visiting one of the importer/distributors of some of these brands. I have a client or two to introduce to them…

In the meantime, let’s see if any of these products come back after the event. What a test!

2 Responses to British food & drink: what would you stock in Uruguay?

  1. Mark Hillary says:

    Great to see that you can get all those products there. It’s not at all easy in São Paulo, although I am not one of the Brits abroad who endlessly dreams of finding Marmite in the supermarket :-) I have seen Baked Beans in Brazil, though they were about £3 a can – twice what you can get them for!!

    Something worth pointing out about that video though. The chair they are sitting on does not have a correct union flag – our flag is not symmetrical, but the design on the chair is. Also, look at the flags hanging behind them and then look at a union flag hanging correctly (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Jack)… they are displaying the flag back to front on the video.

    That’s something to complain about. Nobody ever hangs our flag the right way up, even many Brits!

  2. Gabriela says:

    Hi Mark
    Thanks for your comment. I’m impressed we can get British food and drink in Montevideo which is not available in Sao Paulo, a city more than 10 times bigger!
    Totally agree with the Union Jack, it drives my (English) husband absolutely insane!
    Enjoy the Brazilian summer!
    Gaby

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