Simon Mowbray
Schwan's is sending its Chicago Town pizza brand into a brave new world by branching it out into a range of American-inspired ready meals.
Available nationwide from next month, the Deep Dish frozen range will come in a choice of six varieties retailing at £1.99 each.
The meal-for-one products to be rolled out will be Hickory Steak, Mexican Chicken, Spicy Meatballs, Pepper Steak, Chicken Louisiana and Texas Chilli.
Paula Entwistle, manager for the Schwan's-owned brand, said the company, best known for its prowess in the pizza market with Chicago Town and Freschetta, had decided it was time to capitalise on the growing trend for ethnic-inspired ready meals. She said that sales in the "emerging" ethnic sector, which includes American, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean and Japanese, were currently growing by 13.5% year-on-year, or "double the growth of the total frozen ready meals market" and "well in excess of the growth of established sectors such as Chinese, Indian and Italian".
"This will provide additional variety and choice for time starved consumers," said Entwistle.
"You only need to look around the high street to know there is a real consumer demand for American dining. Until now this was not reflected in supermarket freezers where consumers are desperate to break away from the standard, traditional offering of Indian, Italian or Chinese."
However, one supermarket buyer warned that it would not necessarily be plain sailing for the newcomer.
"Yes, it's true that there is a growing trend for consumers to try new styles of food, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to repeat purchase a new offering.
"Dishes like American, Mexican and Thai may be growing at a faster rate than say Chinese or Indian, but those are established markets and much, much bigger.
"Also, everything American is not necessarily a turn-on for many consumers."