Who: Mr Lee’s Pure Foods
What: Mr Lee’s Noodles: Dragon Fire Vegetables
Where: Ambient ready meals
How much: £2.99/62g
Why: Mr Lee’s, the healthier pot noodle startup, dramatically overhauled its SKUs last summer as the ambient ready meal market was enjoying a sales upsurge. The brand also launched its first vegan-friendly variants - this one and Zen Garden Vegetables - into a category up 6.4% in value to £288.3m [Nielsen 52 w/e 9 September 2017]. Mr Lee’s premium pots are gluten free and low in sugar. Ingredients are freeze-dried “for a fresher and healthier offering than the usual dehydrated products”.
Consumer verdict: The little-known brand and the premium price sparked little pre-trial interest among our consumers. Health was the only key measure to exceed the category norm, with the instant meal scoring negatively on factors such as smell, taste and texture. There was criticism of the “tough and chewy” noodles and “slimy” mouthfeel. A few shoppers said the product was “tasty” and “a meal in itself”, but 96% claimed there were better alternatives available.
Pre-trial purchase: 15%
Post-trial purchase: 4%
Better than what’s out there: 4%
New and different: 31%
Overall score: 15/50