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Who: Marks & Spencer

What: mushroom Stroganoff with Basmati & Wild Rice

Where: Chilled ready meals

When: Launched September 2014

How much: £2.25/390g

Why: Launched recently as part of M&S’s Vegetarian range, the retailer will be hoping this dish bucks the trend in the UK’s meat-free ready meals market, which has fallen 17.5% by value to £26.9m, according to Kantar Worldpanel data [52 w/e 2 February 2014]. Across the overall meat-free category, own label has lost market share as a result of increased product development and marketing investment by brands.

Consumer verdict: Mushroom Stroganoff with Basmati & Wild Rice was a good pre-trial proposition, supported by the strong and trusted M&S branding. Despite some comments on the “dull” pack design, 79% of testers said they would notice this in the chiller. Testers were impressed with the product itself, with many praising the “fluffy” rice, “creamy” sauce and good combination of flavours and textures. And though a few thought this failed to live up the standard expected from M&S, the positives outweighed the negatives and the dish achieved an overall score of 36, five points above the category average.

Pre-trial purchase: 33%

Post-trial purchase: 45%

Better than what’s out there: 38%

New and different: 50%

Overall score: 36/50

What is Fast Foodfax?

It is a subscriber service that has been running for more than 30 years, offering consumer assessments of new products and allowing comparisons with more than 17,000 products from our database. It is objective, impartial and totally independent, and each product is assessed using original consumer feedback from respondents across the UK. See here for further information.

Fast Foodfax is prepared by Cambridge Market Research , which works closely with The Grocer magazine on a variety of projects including the consumer judging element of the The Grocer’s Own-label Food & Drink Awards and New Product Awards. 

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