Aisle Spy

A taste of takeaway in supermarkets

Uncle Ben’s is trying to capture new consumers with products to accompany takeaways, as well as making cooking more convenient and introducing world flavours.

30 August 2019

Uncle Ben’s has 70 years of history behind it, but there is always room for some reinvention.

Mars Food, the brand’s owners, have put it through a programme of refreshment with new products, flavours and packaging.

There’s a new range of ready to heat flavours that tap into the latest culinary trends and demand for hot dishes, according to the company. It includes a spicy chilli rice and it’s first ever limited edition product, a smokey BBQ rice.

Another trend its attempting to tap into is the convenience of cooking one pot dishes – which is currently an under developed part of the category, it said. It’s line of One Pot Rice Kits are available in Tesco and take inspiration from around the world and include Thai Lemongrass & Chilli, Caribbean Jerk, Smokey Mexican and Keralan Spiced Biryani flavours.

It’s similar to new brand, Twisted, from UK manufacturer Symington, which was introduced earlier this year in the ambient aisle. Its range included snack pots with Mexican Chilli Beans & Rice or Thai Green Curry with Rice & Red Lentil, along with world-flavoured rice pouches including: Korean BBQ, Nigerian Jollof and Jamaican Rice & Pea.

Taking takeaway into retail

The taste of takeaway is also being celebrated with new products that are exclusive to Asda. There’s an Onion Bhaji, which goes perfectly with chicken tikka kebabs, and Chicken Fried Rice, which is best served up with a stir fry, suggested the company.

It’s a shrewd move from the brand as the takeaway market is a lucrative space, particularly with the ease of delivery. Over the past decade, the takeaway delivery market has grown from £2.4bn to a burgeoning channel worth £4.2bn as of February 2018 – a 73% increase, figures from The NPD group show.

Takeaway has also impacted home cooking as 10% of Brits consider home delivery services an integral way to eating a full meal in the week, while a quarter find making their own food a boring task, an Ubamarket survey revealed.

Bringing takeaway-style food into supermarkets has been a trend playing out in retail, with many major restaurant chains attempting to capture a slice of the action. Las Iguanas released eight main meals into Sainsbury’s in October last year. Meanwhile, Bella Italia targeted the frozen market with 10 ready meals pushed into Tesco in September, joining Giraffe meals based around world flavours and Ed’s Easy Diner desserts.

Even independent restaurant The Brook joined the crowd with frozen vegan ready meals made for retail, noting that 90% of Brits consume ready meals, spending £4.7bn on them in 2017. Vegan takeaways are also the UK’s fastest growing takeaway option with orders rising almost five-fold over the last two years, research from the British Takeaway Campaign found.

Recipe inspiration

The Uncle Ben’s packs have also been redesigned to include meal inspiration on the packaging.

“This bold brand refresh is a really exciting moment for Uncle Ben’s – introducing new flavours, concepts and designs that will appeal to our fans, attract new consumers and help drive the value of category,” said Ian Nundy, Uncle Ben’s marketing manager. “We help families to enjoy delicious, high-quality meals that are affordable and don’t take hours to prepare. That’s why we think people are going to love these convenient new products and I’m excited to expand the range with flavours that bring to life our truly global food landscape.”

The NPD will be supported by a recipe-inspired marketing campaign, featuring brand partnerships with Proper Tasty and BBC Good Food, which will show how the new products can be used to create meals.

Its information and inspiration that is being craved by consumers, according to Mintel.

“Recipe promotions for world cuisine dishes with all the ingredients located together in-store are a highly attractive proposition for shoppers,” said Emma Clifford, associate director of food and drink at Mintel. “These will encourage experimentation while tapping into consumers’ desire to become more knowledgeable about world cuisines. Inspiration for meals which are authentically healthy, good value for money and meat-free/vegan will appeal widely.”

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