Are you a fan of Fray Bentos corned beef? Have you been searching high and low for this iconic British brand, only to come up empty-handed?
You’re not alone.
Many people have been left disappointed after discovering that their favorite tinned meat product is no longer available on supermarket shelves. But is it really gone for good?
In this article, we’ll explore the history of Fray Bentos corned beef, its current availability, and what the future may hold for this beloved brand.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of Fray Bentos.
Can You Still Get Fray Bentos Corned Beef?
The short answer is yes, you can still get Fray Bentos corned beef. However, it may not be as readily available as it once was.
Fray Bentos is a brand that has been associated with tinned processed meat products for over a century. Originally known for its corned beef, the brand has since expanded to include meat pies, puddings, and meatballs.
The brand was created in the late 1800s and was named after the port of Fray Bentos in Uruguay where the products were originally processed and packaged. The brand has been sold in the United Kingdom, other European countries, and Australia.
In the UK, Fray Bentos is now owned by Baxters, a Scottish soups and sauces business. While Baxters has stated that they have not stopped producing Fray Bentos corned beef, they have seen a decline in demand from their retail and wholesale customers. This may explain why shoppers may see less of it on the shelves.
It’s worth noting that the Fray Bentos factory in Uruguay closed in 1979, and corned beef production was contracted out to other processors in South America. All cans of corned beef exported from these factories had a distinctive circular stamp on the base of the can that showed the country of origin along with codes that could be traced to the processor.
So while Fray Bentos corned beef may not be as widely available as it once was, it is still being produced and can be found in some supermarkets and online retailers.
The History Of Fray Bentos Corned Beef
The history of Fray Bentos corned beef dates back to the late 1800s when a German inventor, who had created a meat extract that required vast quantities of beef, came to Uruguay where cows were plentiful and cheap. He founded the Liebig Extract of Meat Company and built a factory in the town of Villa Independencia, which was later renamed Fray Bentos after a 17th-Century Uruguayan hermit.
The factory soon began producing tinned corned beef from off-cuts of meat, which became popular among working-class people across Europe who previously could not afford meat. Corned beef also provided inexpensive, long-lasting and easy-to-carry rations for British soldiers during the Boer War and both World Wars.
In 1924, the company was bought by the British Vestey Group and renamed Frigorífico Anglo del Uruguay, or “El Anglo” for short. Taking advantage of fast-developing refrigeration technology, El Anglo started exporting frozen meat around the world, alongside Oxo, corned beef and more than 200 other products, from leather to soap, sausages to jams.
In 1943 alone, 16 million tins of corned beef were shipped out from Fray Bentos, the vast majority used to power the Allied war effort. The products even earned a royal following: “I remember eating corned beef until it came out of my ears,” Prince Charles told reporters when he visited Uruguay in 1999.
Today, while the Fray Bentos factory in Uruguay has closed, corned beef production has been contracted out to other processors in South America. The brand is still owned by Baxters in the UK and is being produced, although demand has declined in recent years. Nevertheless, Fray Bentos corned beef remains a part of culinary history and can still be found in some supermarkets and online retailers.
Why Did Fray Bentos Corned Beef Disappear From Supermarket Shelves?
Fray Bentos corned beef has been a kitchen cupboard staple for over a century, but it has recently disappeared from supermarket shelves in the UK. The decline in demand for the product can be attributed to a shift away from salty and fatty foods. The brand’s current owners, Baxters, have not stopped producing Fray Bentos corned beef, but they have seen a decrease in demand from their retail and wholesale customers. This may explain why the product is no longer as widely available as it once was. It’s worth noting that the Fray Bentos factory in Uruguay closed in 1979, and corned beef production was contracted out to other processors in South America. All cans of corned beef exported from these factories had a distinctive circular stamp on the base of the can that showed the country of origin along with codes that could be traced to the processor. Despite its decline in popularity, Fray Bentos corned beef is still being produced and can be found in some supermarkets and online retailers.
Where Can You Still Find Fray Bentos Corned Beef?
If you’re looking for Fray Bentos corned beef, your best bet is to check smaller independent retailers and online stores. While the product may not be stocked by the big four UK supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons), it can still be found in some local grocery stores and specialty shops.
Online retailers such as Amazon and British Corner Shop also offer Fray Bentos corned beef for purchase. However, it’s important to note that availability may vary depending on your location and the retailer’s stock levels.
It’s also worth considering alternative brands of corned beef if you’re unable to find Fray Bentos. Many supermarkets offer their own brand of corned beef, and there are other popular brands such as Princes and Spam that can be found in most stores.
Alternatives To Fray Bentos Corned Beef
If you’re unable to find Fray Bentos corned beef, there are several alternatives available. One option is to try other brands of canned corned beef, such as Princes or Hereford. These brands offer similar products that are made from whole joints of beef, cured in salt, and are similar in taste and texture to Fray Bentos.
Another alternative is to try making your own corned beef at home. This involves curing a piece of beef in a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices for several days before cooking it. While this may take more time and effort than simply buying a can of corned beef, it allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavor to your liking.
If you’re looking for a different type of canned meat product, you could try British-style corned beef, which is minced salted beef with gelatin that is packed in a can. This product is similar to beef spam and can be found in some specialty food stores or online retailers.
Ultimately, while Fray Bentos corned beef may have a unique history and brand recognition, there are several alternatives available that can satisfy your craving for canned corned beef or other processed meat products.
The Future Of Fray Bentos Corned Beef
The future of Fray Bentos corned beef remains uncertain. While Baxters has stated that they have not stopped producing the product, the decline in demand may lead to a reduction in production or even discontinuation in the future.
However, the Brazilian group Mafrig has recently announced plans to begin production of cooked beef for the British market at the old Anglo abattoir in Uruguay, which was once the leading beef exporter to the UK and where the Fray Bentos brand was born. The refurbished plant is expected to begin full production in the coming weeks, with shipments of cooked beef destined for the UK and later for the US market.
It remains to be seen if this new production will include Fray Bentos corned beef, but it does offer hope for the future of the brand. Additionally, other processors in South America continue to produce and export corned beef under the Fray Bentos name, so it is possible that the brand will continue to exist in some form.