Players turn to pots, pouches and great shape cans to show the market's can-do mentality Keen to shake off its dusty image, canned goods firms have developed innovative ways to attract more consumers to the fixture. New shapes and sizes, and the diversification into pots and pouches to sit alongside cans are seen as the way to drive growth. Sainsbury is now stocking the distinctive bulging can shaped Stockmeyer Cauldron Soup, which is distributed in the UK by SDF Foods. It will also be available in Tesco later this month. While the product is well known on the continent, it is the first time the 800g solid soup format has appeared in the UK. At present two recipes are available: chunky vegetable & pearl barley with lamb and chunky potato, and leek with peppers and chicken Tulip International has gone for a new can design for Spam showing a plate with a Spam fritter which will be available in February. In the spring, a 340g can for its healthier option Spam Lite will be introduced. Sales of Spam Lite are performing particularly well. The company says value sales are up 48% year-on-year, and are worth more than £1m. The Spam brand's 60th birthday on March 11 coincides with a week of promotions aimed at attracting more younger users. However brand manager Helen Lynn says: "It'll take a long time for the weighting of 45-plus consumers to come down significantly." Other players in the canned food market have gone for pots and pouches to woo consumers. Baxters joined forces with Scottish celebrity chef Nick Nairn to develop a range of seven restaurant-style sauces in 320g pouches. The company says they offer more flexibility and control over the cooking process than cans and so more complex recipes with delicate ingredients can be attempted. "The rate of sale so far has been excellent, and we are expecting this range to continue its strong performance in 2001," says marketing director Robin Lambie. This year the company is investing £6.6m in marketing the Baxters brand. Developing chilled/ambient packaging options for fruit products is an important strategic priority for Del Monte to harness consumer interest in the category and to drive strong sales growth. To Del Monte, plastic pots represent the future of processed fruit, offering the same quality fruit as a can but with the added advantage of being in a see-through pack. Del Monte's Fruit Express see-through pots offer dual siting possibilities. They have an 18-month shelf life and can be stored ambiently in store, and, the company says, they could attract snackers and lunch time grazers if also merchandised in the chiller. Heinz has made the transition into pouched soups which sit nicely next to its canned range. Together Heinz pouch and premium canned soups already have a 6.8% share of the total ambient premium soup sector (TNS MAT June 25 2000). Heinz has also created a range of four microwaveable soups in response to strong growth in the snacking sector and out-of-home food consumption. Its four best selling Heinz canned varieties ­ cream of tomato, cream of chicken, vegetable and cream of mushroom ­ are now available in the new format. Another development has been Heinz Fridge Door ­ one-litre plastic bottles which are merchandised alongside the familiar Heinz wall of red cans. Although ambient, with a shelf life of nine months until opened, these are designed to fit snugly in the door compartment of domestic fridges. Julian Dunn, Heinz general manager, soup, says: "If you want a snack, you look in the fridge. It was staring us in the face and it took us a while to twig it, but the fridge has taken the place of the larder in the modern home. "We were able to replicate the classic cream of tomato soup flavour in the Fridge Door line ­ and this encouraged people to try it. But in time we will need to find new recipes to develop the format." A new roast vegetable flavour contains peppers, aubergines and courgettes. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}