At your convenience
After a long, glorious reign convenience foods took a bit of a bashing for being unhealthy. But the industry responded, and NPD has brought the category new life
10 February 2009
At a glance: convenience foods
- Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza is ranked third in the Irish frozen pizza market
- Carroll Cuisine is the number one brand in the Chilled Ready Meals category
- Kepak Convenience Foods (KCF) is the market leader in the Irish hot snacking category
- The hot snacking market in the Republic of Ireland is currently growing at 21%, with household penetration currently up by 25%
- Uncle Ben’s Express Rice, number one in the Irish microwaveable rice market
- The microwaveable rice market is worth €5.3 million and is growing at +9% YOY
- Uncle Ben’s holds 92% of the microwaveable rice category (MAT Value Sales) and is driving the market with growth of +12% YOY
- Pot Noodle is market leader in the instant hot snacks sector with over 40% share
- The instant hot snacks market is currently valued at €6.9 million
- Knorr Quicklunch currently holds a 22% share of the instant hot snacks category
- Knorr Pastaria is number one brand in the Savoury Pasta sector with 80% share
The current challenge is to convince consumers that convenience can still be healthy and also allow them some creative input into food preparation, without taking up too much time, says market analyst Mintel.
Following a period of strong and sustained growth, the category has been hit by criticism over the fat, salt and additive content of ready meals. Suppliers have attempted to counteract this by stimulating renewed market growth, revamping recipes and launching new ranges targeted at consumers looking for a premium or healthy ready meal, or a new eating experience.
According to Mintel’s 2008 market data, 23% of recent new product propositions in general, in Europe, centre on being additive/preservative free, making this the predominant NPD focus. The move by manufacturers towards “clean labels” is stimulated by rising consumer demand for ‘natural’ foods, which are perceived to be safer and healthier for the body.
The second most common proposition in new products last year was ‘organic’, accounting for some 2,474 launches out of 18,374, followed by ‘reduced/low/no fat’. Outside the top three, allergen-free, reduced/low/no sugar, gluten-free, and time-saving and speed were also prominent areas of focus in NPD in 2008.
Despite the wave intensive NPD, the convenience category faces intense competition, especially from strongly growing ready-to-cook products. In particular, frozen vegetables have benefited from ‘new image’ marketing, which focuses on locked-in nutritional goodness, replacing the old perception of frozen veg as second rate versions of fresh product.
Ranked third in the Irish frozen pizza market (AC Nielsen Scantrack, 28 December 2008), Dr. Oetker Ristorante pizzas are quick and easy to prepare.
Dr. Oetker Ristorante Pizza offers a meal solution for the consumer who demands premium quality and convenience. With its unique thin and crispy base and a variety of the finest toppings, Ristorante delivers the authentic Pizzeria taste and takes just 10 to 12 minutes to cook.
Dr. Oetker’s Bistro range of authentic baguettes is also very popular and just as easy to prepare. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with delicious toppings, Bistro Baguettes are extremely convenient and are perfect for the whole family at any occasion.
With consumer demand for chilled ready meals at an all time high, Carroll Cuisine, the number one brand in the Chilled Ready Meals category (TNS 2008), has launched a new range of six ready meals.
In accordance with close analysis of the market, as well as recently reported trends, the new range is a mix of proven top sellers and exciting new meals that will have your customers rushing back for more. The range includes Chicken Curry (450g), Sweet and Sour Chicken (450g), Cottage Pie 400g, Chicken & Pasta Bake (400g), Spaghetti Bolognese (450g) and Penne Arrabiatta (400g).
With consumers reducing the frequency of their trips to restaurants in recent months, there is a greater emphasis on eating at home. The New Carroll Cuisine range provides a variety of full meal solutions at an affordable price of €4.49 that will provide consumers with a new reason to eat at home.
To learn more about the exciting new range of products, and to place an order, please speak to your Carroll Cuisine/Cuisine De France category specialist or call 1850 200 754.
The key to success
Kepak Convenience Foods (KCF), the market leader in Ireland’s hot snacking category, is increasing its commitment to quality reassurance. In doing so, KCF is meeting demand among the growing number of consumers taking more interest in the goodness of convenience foods.
“People understandably want reassurance about the quality of ingredients used, but not necessarily from a health perspective,” says John Armstrong, marketing director of Kepak Convenience Foods.
“As the hot snacking category leader, we recognise our responsibility both to retailers and consumers to continually improve the goodness of our products, without compromising the taste which is of paramount importance to our target market.”
As part of a major brand relaunch, KCF introduced a new pack design to its market-leading Rustlers range, focusing on taste and quality reassurance, rather than cooking speed. The fact that all beef is sourced exclusively from Ireland is highlighted on pack.
“Research prior to the Rustlers’ relaunch showed that we needed to address the needs of purchaser mothers as well as their sons. There’s no doubt that for ‘gatekeeper’ mums, provenance and quality reassurance have become increasingly important.”
The hot snacking market in the Republic of Ireland is currently growing at 21%, with household penetration currently up by 25% (Kepak Convenience Foods – Ex Factory Data). In 2009, brand support for Rustlers will include a new TV advertisement, press advertising, sampling and strong links with the growing video gaming industry.
UGO’s Deli Café activity will be aimed at driving trial through national press advertising and national consumer promotions.
Of rice and men
Uncle Ben’s Express Rice, number one in the Irish microwaveable rice market, features a range of 12 different varieties of flavoured rice, including basmati, long grain, egg fried, wholegrain and Mexican flavours, each providing consumers with a tasty and quick meal accompaniment or snack.
The Uncle Ben’s Express Rice product range has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and is ready in just two minutes, with the added bonus of no washing up. Uncle Ben’s has not only created delicious rice dishes from all over the world in a convenient and quick microwaveable pack, but all of the products in the range are also pre-steamed to lock in goodness and taste.
The microwaveable rice market is worth €5.3 million and is growing at +9% YOY. Uncle Ben’s holds 92% of this market (MAT Value Sales) and is driving the market with growth of +12% YOY. Uncle Ben’s will have full support behind the express rice format in 2009 with TV, radio and online support throughout the year.
For diners great and small
My Dolmio is an innovative and convenient range of microwaveable pasta sauces and pasta shapes for children. My Dolmio offers two varieties of pasta shapes, which include My Dolmio Pasta shells and Pasta Twists, and four varieties of sauces, including My Dolmio Tomato & Cheese, Creamy Tomato, Meatball Bolognese, and Tomato & Pepperoni.
The range offers parents a complete meal solution for their children with the added bonus of no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Dolmio has listened to time-starved parents and has created flavours that children enjoy. All the variants are available in microwaveable pouches, with heat free areas that are safe for children to handle and are ready to eat in two minutes.
Dolmio Express is perfect for those occasions when consumers want a quick and easy to prepare meal in a matter of minutes, without having to comprise on taste and nutrition. The Dolmio Express range of convenient microwavable pouches consists of a wide choice of pastas and pasta sauces, including flavours such as Tomato Basil, Spicy Italian Chilli and Carbonara.
Pots of gold
Pot Noodle is market leader in the instant hot snacks sector with over 40% share (AC Nielson MAT 28 December 2008) and continues to be one of Ireland’s most dynamic and exciting brands. The instant hot snacks market is currently valued at €6.9 million (AC Nielson MAT 28 December 2008) and is maintaining high levels of steady growth.
To support the brand in 2009, Pot Noodle is launching more creative campaigns, sampling and exciting in-store promotions.
The wide and varied range offers a choice of nine popular flavours, such as long-standing favourites Chicken & Mushroom, Chow Mein and Original Curry.The Pot Noodle range also offers King Pot which is available in Chicken & Mushroom and Original Curry flavours.
Everyone loves a quicky!
Knorr Quicklunch is a range of tasty snack meals easily prepared and ready to eat within five minutes. Knorr Quicklunch currently holds a 22% share of the instant hot snacks category (AC Nielson MAT 28 December 2008) and is achieving rapid growth. This range is ideal as a quality hot food snack or as a side dish to accompany any meal. Available in a range of seven varieties, from firm favourites such as Curry Rice and Pasta Arrabiata to the delicious Creamy Pasta with Chives, the range offers something to suit all tastes.
Knorr Pastaria is a range of easycook, pasta-based mealdishes. The number one brand with 80% share (TNS MAT May 2008), Knorr Pastaria has been a long serving favourite with consumers in the savoury pasta sector. Ideal as a meal on its own or served as a side dish, Knorr Pastaria has proved popular across all ages, for those looking for a quick and tasty meal in a minutes. The range offers many traditional favourites for the Irish consumer, such as Carbonara, Mushroom, Primavera and Bolognese.
Study shows snackers not as healthy as they claim
A recent study by a team at Wageningen University in The Netherlands has revealed that while consumers are attracted by health-profiled foods their snacking choices are often dictated by other impulses.
Researcher Pascalle Weijzen, from the division of human nutrition at the university, said that “a substantial gap between healthy snack choice intentions and actual behavior” was demonstrated by the 585 subjects that participated in the research.
When asked which of four snack choices they would choose, between an apple, banana, chocolate bar or sticky waffle, approx 50% said that they would select a healthy option, either apple or banana.
One week later however, when the same individuals were asked to choose a snack for real from the same selection, 27% then switched to the chocolate bar or waffle. On the contrary, of those individuals that had originally decided on an unhealthy snack option, 90% stuck to their choice.
The researchers conclude from the study that there is significant potential and space for further growth in the healthy snack food market, but that manufacturers must find an adequately persuasive proposition in order to convert potential healthy snackers into actual ones.