Ragu bolognese

Symington’s is extending the Ragu range.

Symington’s is further encroaching into Homepride’s territory by throwing Ragu into the pasta bake category and extending its pasta sauce range with three “meat-in” recipes.

Available now, the Ragu Pasta Bakes range comprises six dishes - tomato & herb, tomato & bacon, cheese & bacon, tuna, spicy tomato & pepperoni and a tomato, garlic & chilli (rsp: £1.99).

The range will be joined on shelf by three new Ragu sauces containing meat: Bolognese sauce with minced beef & pork, Bolognese sauce with meatballs, and Italian sausage & spinach (rsp: £2.99).

The NPD, which is the biggest brand innovation since Symington’s bought Ragu from Unilever in 2011, was part of the Leeds-based company’s strategy to make Ragu the number two challenger brand in Italian food, said marketing controller Andrew Wade.

Going head-to-head with Premier Foods’ Homepride brand, the move into pasta bakes was a “natural next step” for Ragu, which accounted for 19% of the lasagne sauces sector [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 12 May 2013], said Wade.

The Ragu with meat products, meanwhile, would “rejuvenate the innovation-poor” Italian sauces category, he said.

Since last year’s £2.5m revamp, Ragu has grown 31.3% to £19.8m [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 12 May 2013].

The latest new product development follows Symington’s decision to build on the success of another revamped Unilever brand, Chicken Tonight, with the launch of Tonight, as revealed by The Grocer last week.