El Paso to lead the Mexican wave

Pillsbury UK is considering rolling out a chain of Mexican restaurants under its Old El Paso brand.

The Diageo-owned company is testing new product ideas to boost its Mexican food range, which has a market-leading share of 49 per cent.

Pillsbury wants to capitalise on the UK’s growing appetite for ethnic foods. The company claims the

Mexican food sector has shown 18 per cent growth in the past year. Asda has launched a Mexican range, and Mission Foods recently announced it will inject more investment into the food service (catering) sector.

Old El Paso brand manager Lisa Hamilton says: “We’re testing lots of different concepts, and I would not rule out opening restaurants.

“They would have a more authentic Mexican feel than other restaurants, which mainly have a Tex-Mex atmosphere.”

Pillsbury ice-cream brand Häagen-Dazs already has a café chain.

A £7m marketing package is in place to back Old El Paso with new TV ads, which highlight the range’s ease of preparation. The ads, created by Leo Burnett, broke last week.

Press ads featuring a cartoon character in a sombrero will launch in November, while a national sampling campaign will hit supermarkets early next year. Carat handles the Old El Paso media buying and planning account.

The merger of Pillsbury and US food giant General Mills, which will take a two-thirds stake in the UK company, is expected to be completed later this year.

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