Premier Foods is fearing to tread where others have failed - by launching a range of self-heating ready meals that it reckons will get off to a flying start as people stock up on rations for the predicted freezing winter ahead.
The company has won the rights to heating technology used by the US army and emergency services during the floods in New Orleans.
Its Crosse & Blackwell branded Hunger Breaks meals, in chicken curry, chicken cacciatore, burgers & beans and steak & vegetable varieties (rsp: £2.99) use lighter, cheaper and more reliable technology than has been
previously tested on the UK market, according to Premier. By pouring a pouch of salty water on to a heater pad, a chemical reaction is started that heats the food in 10 minutes.
Premier Foods has struck a deal to supply meals to rower James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle, who set off this week on a 3,000 mile rowing race across the Atlantic.
A £500,000 marketing campaign showing the importance of having a heater meal in the boot, as well as in forecourts for truckers, is being launched. Premier Foods’ head of convenience brands, Martin Hall, said: “People making sure they have something warm in the car to eat, as well as hikers and walkers, represent a significant opportunity.
“These meals are also highly nutritious and taste good, so are presented in a foodie format.”
Self-heater meals have failed to take off in the UK, although players such as Hotcan have won mainstream listings and believe that the category has huge potential. A high profile casualty was Nestlé’s self-heating hot drinks, which flopped two years ago because of unreliable technology.
Premier Foods’ meals have won listings with Palmer & Harvey McLane, Nisa and Spar.
Mexican food as an easy, versatile and fun way to cook is the theme of a TV campaign for General Mills’ Old El Paso, starting on Monday (December 5). With a strapline of ‘Taste the Fun’, it shows consumers determined to give their family and guests a good time, despite busy lifestyles and lack of cash. Mexican ready meals are the third favourite after Indian and Chinese (The Grocer, November 19, p49).
Claire Hu