Quality, value, convenience

Whether it’s for enjoying at home, in the workplace or on-the-go, the convenience food sector is stronger than ever in 2018, as brands drive sales through a combination of healthy ingredients, packaging innovation and strong, confident branding, writes Doug Whelan

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Brand Central

14 June 2018 | 0

There was once a time when convenience food was a byword for throwing healthy options out the window and grabbing whatever was available. Additives and preservatives were rife, along with salt, sugar and fat to add flavour to processed versions of recognisable meals. No more!

Advances in technology, combined with wisdom among consumers that it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice quality for convenience, have forced brands and start-ups to think outside the box and innovate over and over again. In a drive to stay ahead of trends and provide healthy alternatives to greasy takeaways and fatty microwave options, not to mention impulse buys like snacks, chocolate and crisps, a whole new generation of convenience food offerings has come along. It is important for retailers to be aware of the benefits these brands offer consumers, in order to understand the trends that define shopping missions in 2018 and beyond.

Everyday fish

Through innovation and NPD, John West strives to appeal to existing and new customers, with products that are not only tasty and convenient, but also relevant to consumers’ lifestyles. For those seeking solutions and

inspiration for a protein rich snack that complements their healthy on-the-go active healthy lifestyle, fish can be a great natural alternative.

The John West Creations range is perfect for a quick, healthy lunch that is ready in seconds

The John West Creations range is perfect for a quick, healthy lunch that is ready in seconds

John West aims to inspire the consumer to get the best out of fish while also being as convenient as possible to eat. The brand enables shoppers to buy and consume quality fish regularly throughout the week. Innovations such as John West Infusions and Creations make it easy for consumers to eat fish twice a week – as recommended by the healthy eating guidelines.

The John West Infusions range takes a single serving size portion of healthy fish and gives it  extra zest by adding a rainbow of exciting flavours: Tuna infused with chilli and garlic, basil, soy and ginger, tangy jalapeno, or Salmon infused with sweet chilli or teriyaki to name but a few! John West Infusions provides on average 19g of protein in a tub.

Meanwhile, John West Creations is perfect to create a quick healthy lunch or snack in seconds. It comes in a pouch, can be served hot or cold, is “one of your five a day” and is free from artificial flavours, colours or preservatives. It comes in four flavours with tuna or salmon. Creations provides on average 15g of protein in a pouch. In short, consumers can always get the best out of John West!

Unlock the flavour!

One of Ireland’s fastest-growing snack brands, Fulfil, has developed a reputation for collaborating with consumers to launch innovative new products. Fulfil Chocolate Hazelnut Whip is the brand’s twelfth flavour variety and certainly its most daring yet.

The new brand launched with an exciting and innovative four-day brand activation in the heart of Dublin City Centre. On the site of a former bank on Merrion Row, just off St. Stephen’s Green, the Chocolate Hazelnut Whip was kept under lock and key, shielded from the hungry masses in a locked vault until the big reveal.

From the golden wrapper through to the contents inside, the new Fulfil flavour is “pure gold”. Just as gold gains its value through its rarity, Fulfil’s Chocolate Hazelnut Whip was initially available only from the ‘Bank of Fulfil’. Those who wanted to get their hands on the new flavour had to pay a visit to the vault and join Fulfil for an experience to remember!

Chocolate Hazelnut Whip joins the other 11 mouth-watering bars in the range, bringing the collection to a daring dozen of unique flavours. The bar provides full-on flavour at just 210 calories, with 20g of protein, 1.9g of sugar and 100% RDA of nine vitamins. Surrounded in a rich milk chocolate coating with a tasty hazelnut whipped centre, it’s the perfect choice for an on-the-go healthy snack with a great taste.

Fulfil’s Chocolate Hazelnut Whip bars will be available in retailers nationwide for RRP €2.50. With the stand-out gold packaging, it simply can’t be missed on the shelves!

Grenade’s Carb Killa range targets the “life athlete” consumer seeking the most out of life

Grenade’s Carb Killa range targets the “life athlete” consumer seeking the most out of life

Active innovation

Growth in the convenience snacking sector is being driven by three key trends, according to new research by Grenade, hailed as the UK’s leading sports and nutrition brand*. These key trends are health, taste and innovation. Looking specifically at the health trend, Kantar Worldpanel (August 2017) reports that over 50% of UK adults seek to reduce their sugar levels as they make more informed choices about what they eat.

This has led to an increase in healthy snacking which, combined with a desire for more active lifestyles, has seen a significant rise in the growth of protein containing products.

The sports and health nutrition market is being driven by protein-based nutrition, which accounts for 82% of value sales*. This category is valued at £51.7m and growing at +61%.

Grenade is the UK’s leading sports and nutrition brand. Within protein bars alone, Grenade is the number one brand, boasting a huge 45% more sales than the second offering**. Grenade Carb Killa bars also generate a high amount of cash through tills within the category, making them a must-stock for convenience retailers. In addition, 80% of shoppers are new to this highly profitable category***; again driving incremental sales in stores.

The Grenade story is one of roll-your-sleeves-up hard work and a commitment to doing things better. Founded in 2009 by Alan and Juliet Barratt, their mission was simple: to create the highest quality products that the “life athlete” target consumer would actively seek out, enabling them to get the most out of life, whatever their goals.

The brand has also announced a new partnership with Valeo Foods, Ireland’s leading ambient food and beverage business. Valeo owns several of Ireland’s favourite brands including Jacob’s, Odlums, Batchelors and Kelkin, and is also a sales and distribution partner to many other iconic consumer brands.

The partnership grew out of Valeo Foods’ ability to deliver growth in established and emerging categories, its knowledge and understanding of the Irish consumer and a sales team spread right across the trade.

*(Source: IRI Market Place, Total UK, Sports and Health Nutrition, 52 we 03/12/17)

**(Source: RI infoScan, Nutrition Bars, UK HB OTC, 52 we 07/10 17)

***(Source: Retailer X sales data, 26 we February 2018)

Retail takeover

As it rolls out plans to make its healthy ready-made meals available nationwide this year, NutriQuick is going from strength to strength. Winner of the 2017 Best Start-up award at the ShelfLife National C-Store Awards alongside triumph for founder Dean Sliney at the Best Young Entrepreneur competition, the forward-thinking Sliney says this is just the start.

NutriQuick was founded in January 2016 with a goal to improve health and performance through convenient, healthy meals. Its first home was a small rented kitchen, and customers were supplied with meal plans online and through independent stores. Interest and sales grew quickly, and the company was soon supplying healthy ready-made meals nationwide.

NutriQuick currently supplies some of Ireland’s leading retail stores including SuperValu, Centra, Londis and Spar

NutriQuick currently supplies some of Ireland’s leading retail stores including SuperValu, Centra, Londis and Spar

In September of that year, Sliney and his team took a nearly 4,000sq ft unit in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, and established a state-of-the-art production facility, which is now licensed and approved by the FSAI and HSE. Almost two years later, thousands of NutriQuick ready-made meals are produced here weekly.

NutriQuick has since taken part in the SuperValu and Bord Bia Food Academy, worked with the Local Enterprise Office and with renowned foodies Yvonne Scully and Wendy Roberts to help develop the brand and its products. NutriQuick now supplies some of Ireland’s leading retail stores including SuperValu, Centra, Londis and Spar, and employs seven staff. “Our plan for 2018,” Sliney says, is to continue to grow our brand and products by rolling out our retail range across Ireland.”

NutriQuick also plans to launch a new website and ordering application next month, which promises to simplify the online ordering process. It will be available for customers in Ireland and the UK. “Most important,” Sliney adds, “is we want to stay true to our goal and continue to make lives easier and improve their health and performance through our nutritious and delicious healthy meals.”

Big on quality

One of Europe’s leading food innovators Kepak has launched an exciting new range within its Big Al’s Food Service portfolio. The new range focuses directly on key food-to-go segments: breakfast, lunch and snacking.

The face of the food-to-go sector has changed dramatically in recent years, and compared to the overall grocery market, food-to-go presents a high growth opportunity. With €145m in operator purchases, and the projected growth of more than 5.4% before 2020*, Kepak wants to nurture the opportunity for retailers to grow sales within this ever-expanding sector.

Kepak’s new sausage patty will make a popular addition to any food-to-go menu

Kepak’s new sausage patty will make a popular addition to any food-to-go menu

As well as traditional chicken goujons and wings, customers will be able to enjoy a range of delicious, hot menu items, including Big Al’s Sausage Patty, perfect in a muffin or bun at breakfast time; Big Al’s Gourmet Hot Dog, wraps and authentic Italian products including Big Al’s Pizza Twist. The new range also includes a select range of popular pulled meats. These versatile products can help operators create a range of signature subs, sandwiches or paninis.

The Big Al’s Food Service range is high-quality, easy to prepare and consistently delicious, making it the perfect addition to any menu. Kepak understands that every sector and catering outlet has unique needs and therefore tailors great products and service solutions to meet those requirements.

In conjunction with this new range, Kepak has developed its new Food-to-Go Guide, a comprehensive look at today’s food-to-go landscape. This is packed with valuable insights and expertise and can be downloaded for free from the Kepak Food Service website.

For more information, visit www.kepakfoodservice.ie/foodtogo.

*(Source: Bord Bia Irish Foodservice Channel Insights November 2017)

Convenience without compromise

Sadie’s Kitchen Super 7 Greens has all the goodness of bone broth, fortified with extra herbs and vegetables

Sadie’s Kitchen Super 7 Greens has all the goodness of bone broth, fortified with extra herbs and vegetables

Two years after it was first established, and just one year since a successful appearance on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den, Sadie’s Kitchen is set to have its biggest year yet as a range of partnerships, activations and innovations propel the brand into the next phase of its evolution.

First off, the brand’s new flavour is about to hit shelves. Sadie’s Kitchen Super 7 Greens has all the goodness of Sadie’s Kitchen Comforting Chicken Bone Broth, now fortified with seven green herbs and vegetables, along with flax seed. It is free from preservatives and has no added salt, creating a natural and flavoursome bone broth that can be enjoyed on its own as a light meal, or as part of a recipe.

The new-look pack is as bright as its contents, and boasts an impressive 28-day shelf life, when chilled.

Sadie’s Kitchen was established in 2016 and has enjoyed wide success, thanks to innovative partnerships and a quality product

Sadie’s Kitchen was established in 2016 and has enjoyed wide success, thanks to innovative partnerships and a quality product

Meanwhile, summer 2018 is a very exciting time for Sadie’s Kitchen. The brand has been chosen as an ambassador for Neff, one of a range of Irish producers chosen for the kitchen appliance manufacturer’s 2018 Ingredients campaign. At the luxurious Taste of Dublin festival in Dublin city in June, Sadie’s Kitchen will be used by top chefs in the Neff Taste Theatre cooking demos, while founder Sarah Kiely will discuss her Sadie’s Kitchen journey at the Producers’ Panel discussions.

Meanwhile, Sadie’s Kitchen’s ongoing partnership with healthy fast food chain Chopped is going from strength to strength, while the brand recently began stocking with renowned craft butchers chain Kerrigans. Kiely says the objective remains the same: to bring new, innovative products to market that are healthy and delicious, delivering “convenience without compromise”.

To learn more, including stockists, visit Sadieskitchen.ie or email heather@sadieskitchen.ie.



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