>>A monthly look at the most promising newcomers in key grocery categories. this month: frozen food

n Whyte and Mackay is relaunching Vladivar Vodka in a bid to challenge Diageo’s mighty Smirnoff.

n The renaissance will take the lion’s share of the company’s £50m marketing budget, with the main thrust coming from the brand’s first new TV campaign in a decade. Due in November, the ads will carry the line ‘Some people have just got it’.
Most of the major launches in the frozen food category over the last 12 months have come from the dominant player, Birds Eye. However, the product that has just edged ahead in the rising stars race comes from Kerry Foods.

Its Wall’s Balls - bite-sized, crumb-coated frozen versions of its Wall’s brand sausages - were launched in February. They reached a peak of distribution in 75% of possible outlets in April, although that figure has slipped down to 73% in the four weeks to August 9, 2003, according to data from ACNielsen.

Around 7% of Nielsen’s consumer panel have tried the product so far and the proportion of those going back for more is now up to nearly one third.

Several of Birds Eye’s new offerings have also done well as far as distribution is concerned, with Captain’s Table Tuna Burgers hitting a high of 81% in May. This has also appealed to a respectable proportion of the 4.4% of consumers who sampled it, with 26.5% going back for second helpings.

Steamfresh Vegetables, another new Birds Eye product, has done well, espcially considering that it is in a not particularly sexy sector. It has achieved distribution in three-quarters of outlets, with nearly a fifth of consumers who have tried it buying a second time.

Other notable freezer debutantes have included Chippy Express offerings from Oriental Express and Schwan’s Chicago Town meals.