Enthusiasm for Tex Mex cuisine is growing rapidly in the Baltic countries. “The social dimension is very important when it comes to Tex Mex. More and more people want to not only eat together but prepare food together as well. Tex Mex is an excellent fit with this trend,” says Rainer Tammet, Commercial Director, Retail Baltics at Paulig.
The first time Rainer Tammet’s family had Tex Mex food was nearly twenty years ago. His children were young at the time, but they immediately took a liking to it.
“Children can be picky about food, but Tex Mex is usually a big hit with them. It is among the favourite types of food among children and young people in many countries, including the Baltics. My children are now adults and they’ve moved out, but Tex Mex food is still among their favourites: you can always find tortillas, tacos and dips in their kitchen cupboards,” Tammet says.
The Baltic region is one of Paulig’s fastest-growing markets for Tex Mex products. The category has grown at a rate of 20–30 per cent during the past few years. Spices account for about half of the total sales of Paulig’s Santa Maria products in the Baltic countries, while Tex Mex products represent 30 per cent.
The popularity of Tex Mex is supported by several trends: people’s lives are busy and becoming increasingly international, and there’s a shift towards more plant-based food. Particularly among people under the age of 40, there is a strong preference for food that is quick, easy and delicious.
“Tex Mex food is quick to prepare and plant-based toppings work very well with it. Tex Mex is becoming increasingly well liked. Of course, traditional food is still popular in the Baltic countries, but people are always looking for other types of flavours for variety.”
Tex Mex is social
Tammet’s personal favourite is a Tex Mex buffet with various options available: tacos, tortillas, minced meat, chicken, many different vegetables and sauces. Everyone can then create their own dish by combining the ingredients.
Food tastes best when you eat it with friends and family.
“The last time we went over to a friend’s house, we brought the ingredients with us and then we prepared the meal together. The social dimension is an important part of Tex Mex, as people are increasingly looking to prepare food together with friends or family members. Tex Mex suits this very well.”
Tammet believes the Tex Mex trend will continue to grow in popularity for a long time. The average annual spending on Tex Mex in the Baltic countries is about €2.50, compared to €10 in Finland and €24 in Norway.
“There is a lot of potential in the Baltic market. We simply need to keep working and developing new flavours.”
A native of Estonia, Tammet joined Paulig Group in 1994 when he was hired for a marketing job. His academic background is in engineering, but he immediately began studying marketing alongside his work. Paulig had started operating in Estonia about a year earlier. The country was going through major economic and social changes at the time.
“I was interested in international business and the food industry. During the first few years, we expanded our operations to Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. It was a very interesting period of time,” Tammet explains.
Life in Estonia and the other Baltic countries has been characterised by rapid reconstruction for almost thirty years now. There have been many changes in society. According to Tammet, in the 1990s and 2000s, parents typically got home from work quite late in the evening.
The time pressure this created is also reflected in food culture.
“People are still very busy, but attitudes have changed. People now want to find time for themselves and their family. For example, they make an effort to arrange shared moments around food,” Tammet points out.
Every action is significant
Paulig has a long-term commitment to sustainability. Sustainability is also an emerging trend in the Baltic countries, especially among young consumers.
What is Tammet’s personal sustainability promise when it comes to food?
At the Tammet household, recycling various packaging materials is a high priority. Tammet is also proud of Paulig’s development efforts related to packaging, for example.
“My friends have told me that Paulig’s redesigned tortilla packaging, for instance, looks and feels much better than its predecessor. The effort we have put into developing packaging is seen as important. We have genuinely done something good on that front.”
In September 2019, Paulig Group participated in World Cleanup Day in Estonia with a team of 30 people consisting of Paulig employees as well as their family members and friends.
“Over the course of a couple of hours, our team collected 260 kg of waste — mostly plastic, cigarette butts and packaging — in the Kopli and Noblessner areas. We then wrapped up the day with a zero-waste Tex Mex lunch. Santa Maria tortillas are what you might call edible plates. It was a fun and rewarding day,” Tammet concludes.