Rice brand sales pick up pace as it earns place on mainstream supermarket shelves

Harry Dulai, manaiging director of Surya Foods, promoting the Lail Rice re-brand at the world food a

Harry Dulai, manaiging director of Surya Foods, promoting the Lail Rice re-brand at the world food and beverage trade event, Gulfood in Dubai - Credit: Surya Foods

Essex-based Laila is celebrating its fourth year at the top of table as the fastest-growing dry rice brand in the UK top three.

With sales growth of nearly 34%, it added more than £5m year-on-year to the dry rice category, according to data from market measurement firm Nielsen.

The brand — produced by Surya Foods in Harwich — is expected to continue to grow this year.

It was launched in 1996 with the aim of bringing high quality, authentic basmati rice to the rice-eating Asian community of the UK and has been a top seller on world food aisles — but has now also earned a place on the mainstream rice aisles.

From March 2020 more than 4m 1kg Laila packs — a new size format for the brand — hit the mainstream aisles of almost all the major retailers including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, achieving number one position in Nielsen’s analysis of big bag rice sold in multiples’ world food aisles, independents and cash and carry outlets.

A rebrand included the introduction of 100% recyclable packaging across its entire range of smaller bags and was part of a multi-million-pound drive to attract mainstream customers and further strengthen its popularity with the UK’s ethnic communities.

Surya Foods boss Harry Dulai said: “2020 has proved to be a phenomenal year for us. Not only are we the fastest growing dry rice brand in the UK Top 3 for four years running, we have also gained listings in all of the major multiples mainstream rice aisles – a first in our brand’s 30 year history. And all this in addition to our powerful ‘Big Bag’ presence in the World Food aisles.

“The majority of the grocery sector is performing incredibly well, in comparison to last year, with the shift to more home cooking. 

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“Total market year on year sales growth is at extraordinary highs - in the region of 7%. However, for Laila to have delivered four to five times this already exceptional average, with phenomenal sales growth of 33.6%, really drives home just what an incredible year we have had. Going forward we expect Laila’s growth to gain even greater momentum as trends that have underpinned our 2020 success story continue to dominate.”

Surya Foods also saw its Salaam rice brand climb the UK Top 10 dry rice charts, moving from position 10 to 8, with annual sales of £4m.

The full Laila brand is worth almost £60m and is sold in more than 30 countries worldwide.

It features its top-selling classic basmati, together with an extensive line up of popular rice varieties from around the world including Jasmine, Golden Sella Basmati, Easy Cook, Tosyo, Baldo, Long Grain, Glutinous, Broken Basmati, Ponni and Sona Masoori. It also includes a range of flours, pulses, grains, ghee butter, pickles and curry pastes.

The new listings on the mainstream aisles span nine different varieties of Laila rice all packaged in a new 1kg format.