Buyer Miki Handzar has worked with three independent suppliers to capitalise on key trends of convenience, provenance and quality. All three brands will be merchandised in a dedicated freezer under the banner Quality Family Ready Meals.
The move has been applauded as likely to add value to the declining frozen arena. Frozen ready meals have been worst hit, with a fall of 12.9% year-on-year [ACNielsen 52 w/e October 1, 2005].
Alf Carr, director general of the British Frozen Foods Federation, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that people are bringing frozen upmarket. This combination of products has been very well chosen."
There are 15 dishes, targeted at babies, children and adults. They include six meals from Manchester-based Eazycuisine, which is making its supermarket debut, an exclusive children's range of Beth Guy's Little Pies and baby food from Babylicious.
Handzar said Budgens was determined to reverse frozen's downward trend. Carr added he hoped the move would herald "a revolution in frozen food".
Budgens is launching the range with an introductory offer: Eazycuisine and Beth Guy's Little Pies at 'two for £5' (usual rsp: £2.99 each) and Babylicious at £2.99 (usual rsp: £3.79 each).