Sainsbury's category has expanded to include meal solutions in addition to the traditional canned stalwarts. Typical meal solutions include pouch soups, canned meat or vegetable curries, vol-au-vent fillings and chicken in white sauce. Canned goods category manager David Lamb says Sainsbury's is outperforming the category by offering a wider range of own label standard and premium soups than its competitors. Premium own label soups include ranges such as Sainsbury Special Recipe soups and HL Foods Soup Sensation pouch products. Sainsbury introduced Stockmeyer's Cauldron soup before Christmas which is outperforming all other premium launches this season, according to Lamb, while Sainsbury Be Good To Yourself ranges of soups, beans and pasta are outperforming brand leader Heinz WeightWatchers. Sainsbury's also has a high proportion of ring pull ends in its own label range to make the product more user friendly. In the run-up to Christmas, Sainsbury's ran a promotion with Baxters, offering a third off the soup range. Supported by instore displays, national press advertising and Baxter TV activity, 1.2 million cans of product were sold ­ increasing sales by 280%. The Co-operative Group (formerly CWS) says it is increasing its merchandising by meal solutions, especially within the newer markets, such as international cuisine. Within the product sections, the group aims to offer a choice of meal solutions in every fixture size for every store size. "The category is blocked by country of origin and then by brand," a spokeswoman says. New products launched for the September 2000 review appeared in pouches. There were two ranges with a total of 11 lines ­ none in cans. International cuisine is the group's fastest growing new product category, and all were launched either in jars or pouches. "It is difficult to achieve the status for cans that is afforded to chilled foods," she adds. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}