Cole & Mason Spices Things Up

Mortars have deep vertical sides so ingredients do not spill out and are designed to be kept on display in the kitchen.

Mortars have deep vertical sides so ingredients do not spill out and are designed to be kept on display in the kitchen.

By Allison Zisko

Simon Messent wants to make seasoning sexy.

The director of marketing for DKB wants to move its Cole & Mason brand beyond the mills that have put the English company on the map to all elements of seasoning, making it a category unto itself.

“Like baking, once you get into it, you immerse yourself,” he said during the Ambiente fair in Frankfurt in February. “I’d like seasoning to be the new baking.”

The first step, he said, is to build consumer confidence in seasoning. High-performance products figure strongly into that, he said, because unless the product works well, people will give up. The company’s Derwent pepper mill was recently “highly recommended” by Cook’s Illustrated magazine. The grinder strips the peppercorns instead of crushing them, intensifying their flavor, and provides a consistent grind, whether fine or coarse.

Will Symonds, president of DKB’s American division, believes Cole & Mason can bring that same level of expertise and attention to detail to other tools. “We want to encourage consumers to use seasonings more and experiment more,” he said. “There’s a huge opportunity for retailers to help consumers with that, because they [consumers] feel that it is a gap in their skill set.”

This year the company has introduced space-saving spice racks, salt keepers and other items that it believes are easier and more intuitive to work with and give better results. It hopes to back up these product lines at retail with training programs and merchandising strategies to build the brand. “We see that as a core area for the brand,” Symonds said of the recent new products. “Our brand has been about mills, but we want it to be about flavor.”

Retailers often merchandise mills separately from oil and vinegar, herbs and spices, and other flavorings, Symonds noted, and this, he believes, is a mistake. “Retailers are missing out on a huge trend,” he said. Flavorings can be sold and promoted in much the same way that wine and coffee and their related products and accessories have been, and can tap into the popularity of culinary gifts, Symonds added.