The UK ready meal culture gets several mentions in this article....personally I would welcome an M&S/Waitrose ready meal revolution here in Adelaide.............
Coles introduce 40 ready-made meals as part of healthy takeaway range
May 18, 2016 4:26pm Vanessa Brown news.com.au
Coles have launched a new range of chilled ready-made meals to rival the market. Picture: AAP Image/Paul Miller.
THE WAR between Australia’s supermarket giants has heated up, with Coles banking on the success of the “ready-made” meal industry, and launching 40 “healthy takeaway-style cuisines” across its stores.
In a move similar to what Woolworths introduced last year, Coles will expand its range of gourmet ready-meals, taking inspiration from the success of UK retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda.
Made with “quality ingredients” and “developed in conjunction with local Australian producers”, the Coles Brand range of ready-made meals will feature Health Star Ratings, and provide a “convenient and nutritious alternative to takeaway food”.
The range is made up of salads, soups, curries, quiches, pizza, pasta dishes and fresh sauces. The meals will also come in a range of portion sizes, and start from as little as $5 per unit.
While Woolworths currently stocks a range of chilled ready-made meals, Coles general manager for meal solutions Charlotte Rhodes said its new range was unrivalled.
“While the category has been in the Australian market for years, we could see there was a real gap in the market when it came to chilled convenience meals, where there was a lack of choice,” she said in a statement to news.com.au.
“Customers want more to choose from than the same handful of products every week, so we’ve doubled our product range, we’ve improved the quality of the products we already had, and we’ve sharpened our value proposition for customers.”
“We’ve worked with Australian suppliers to help take the hard work out of meal times by creating sauces, soups, pastas, pies and curries packed with flavour and made with great quality Australian meat and vegetables.
“We know our customers lead busy lives and they have told us they want help with the daily ‘what’s for dinner’ dilemma, so we’re introducing great value options for a quick dinner for one or to serve the whole family without compromising on taste.”
The new range, which is aimed at busy people wanting “quality ingredients, no artificial colours or flavours,” has been rolled out on supermarket shelves this week.
With an annual growth of 3.6 per cent in Australia over the past five years, the reported revenue from the ready-made meal sector is around $900 million annually in Australia.
While this growth has been partially due to the much-reported lack of time experienced by Australian consumers, improvements in the quality and attractiveness of ready-made meals were the main drivers of growth in 2015.
Traditionally, the category has included everything from the supermarket-sold Emily’s Kitchen range of refrigerated meals to Weight Watchers’ frozen selections. But home cooking and home delivery has converged, resulting in a rise of start-ups like Hello Fresh and My Food Bag offering healthy home delivered meals and make-at-home meal kits.
According to market research firm IBISWorld, McCain, Simplot and Matchlow were still the leaders in the ready-made frozen sector, but admitted the growing private label push by Coles and Woolworths would hurt the traditional branded players.
The booming business of healthy prepared meals is due to “a rising health consciousness”, and the needs of time-poor consumers — especially those living alone.
With singles and couples without children expected to account for 50 per cent of all households by 2035, the demand for convenience eating means big business for supermarket retailers.
In the UK, ready meals have been an institution since the late ‘70s, when Marks and Spencer launched its first ready-made chicken Kiev. As the BBC reported, what made it revolutionary was it was chilled rather than frozen.
As of 2012, the chilled ready meal market made up 57 per cent of the UK’s prepared meals market, valued at $5.44 billion (£2.6 billion), according to Mintel.
According to industry analysts, it is no wonder supermarkets are trying to move in on the ready-made convenience sector.
“[Ready-to-cook] prepared meals where it’s ‘do it with me’, that is a big opportunity,” Geoff Dart, of DGC Advisory, told news.com.au. “We’ve got an ageing population, people are becoming more time-poor, convenience is becoming a much more important factor in their lives.
“Take-home meals have worked well in the UK, but it’s about how appealing and affordable you can make that offer, particularly while keeping it fresh.”
Currently, Coles has a range of ready-to-cook meal solutions, which have been on the shelves for several years. These options include precut vegetables and mixed salads, along with a range of prepared and marinated meats.
The new additions, which are sold on supermarket shelves as a ‘chilled’ meal that has never been frozen, will make up a total range of 77 products under the Coles ready-made meal umbrella.
The move comes at a time when Coles continues to launch its price war in the $89 billion grocery sector. Earlier this month, the supermarket giant added 36 Libra and Tena women’s products to its so-called ‘Every Day’ low pricing list of more than 2500 items.
This year, the price wars between Coles and Woolworths saw the supermarkets focus on the prices of Colgate toothpaste, fresh-baked bread, juice, rice, Kleenex tissues, roast chickens, batteries and other health and beauty products.
During the third-quarter results, Coles delivered another strong result, with total sales up by 3.2 per cent. The food and liquor sales of Wesfarmers for the three months to March 31 rose by 5.9 per cent to $7.518 billion, from $7.097 billion for the corresponding period last year.
Woolworths, on the contrary, struggled in the third-quarter, posting a 0.9 per cent decline in food and liquor sales when adjusted to take Easter into account. Non-adjusted, Woolworths’ sales edged 0.4 per cent higher to $10.7 billion.
According to Roy Morgan, in an average four-week period, 10.5 million people shop at Woolworths, 10 million at Coles, 5.3 million at Aldi and just more than four million at IGAs.
Originally published as Coles’ new plan to take down Woolworths