Source: Premier Foods

The pots will roll out from 24 November, with the launch backed by in-store and online activity

Premier Foods has unveiled a trio of meat-free pots for Batchelors in a bid to boost the brand’s appeal with vegans and flexitarians.

The pots – Smoky Facon Mac ‘n’ Cheeze, Chick’n Curry and Rice, and Sweet Chilli Chick’n Noodles – were designed to recreate “familiar flavours that people love, but with tasty alternatives to meat”, according to the brand.

Plant-based options were currently “under-represented in ambient aisles” compared to freezers and chillers, said Premier Foods brand director for quick meals, snacks and soup Naomi Shooman, adding the range would “fill this white space and help grow the meat-free opportunity for retailers”.

The range is claimed to be low in fat, with no artificial preservatives and providing a source of protein. The pots themselves are fully recyclable.

They will roll out from 24 November (rsp: £1.25/675g). The launch will be backed by in-store and online activity, as well as an influencer campaign ”to encourage consumers to engage with the brand and try the products for themselves”.

However the launch comes on the back of falling sales for the brand’s ambient ready meals, which were down 17.1% to £14.4m over the last year – a £2.9m loss [Nielsen 52 w/e 11 September 2021].

Revenue slump

Premier Foods revealed it had suffered a drop in revenue and operating profits in its half-year results this week: revenues were down 6.5% year on year to £394.1m, with operating profits down 21.3% to £51.3m.

But Premier Foods CEO Alex Whitehouse stressed its brands had “performed especially well with growth versus two years ago of +11.4% and increased market share in both Grocery and Sweet Treats, illustrating the continued success of our branded growth model”.

He was “particularly pleased with how well the business is successfully navigating the widely reported industry-wide challenges including logistics, labour shortages and input cost inflation to deliver such a strong set of results, which again underlines the robustness of our operating capabilities”, he added.

Going forward, Premier Foods had plans to launch “a range of insight-driven new products and supporting six of our key brands with advertising”, he said.

“We will expand our presence in adjacent new categories, building on the initial success of Cape Herb and Spice and Oxo Rubs & Marinades, as well as bringing to market premium Mr Kipling biscuits and a range of branded ice cream.”