Schwan’s extended its Chicago Town brand into Deep Dish frozen individual ready-meals in September last year in a bid to cash in on the trend for ethnic inspired ready meals.

The original American-themed range included Hickory Steak, Spicy Meatballs, Chicken Louisiana and Texas Chilli.

The company claimed the products were more convenient than rival offerings because they could be eaten straight from their own bowl and could be cooked in the oven or the microwave.

But the spicy flavours have yet to heat up the freezer aisle in several of the major multiples, with Tesco, Safeway and Somerfield yet to stock the products. All cited a “crowded market” with hundreds of similar products already available. According to Information Resources, the range achieved sales of £2m by September 6, 2003 and, while the products were launched at £1.99, Schwan’s has admitted that it had to lower this to £1.59 because of “overcrowding” at the original price level.

However, Somerfield, which is planning a range review in February next year, has conceded that it “might consider stocking the products” then. And Schwan’s is far from giving up on the range. Consumer brand manager Josh Henderson said it would be looking to make more of the bowl concept on packaging in future, while newcomers Triple Cheese, Classic Bolognese, Chunky Steak and Chicken Alfredo are set to join the range later this year. n Product: Chicago Town Deep Dish ready meals

n Company: Schwan’s

n Launch Date: September 2002