Adventurous shoppers have been filling their baskets with east Asian flavours as an alternative to pricier takeaways and meals out.
It’s a trend that’s done wonders for Wasabi’s retail offer. The fast food chain’s chilled ready meals – including Korean Firecracker Chicken & Rice and Vegetable Gyoza & Yakisoba Noodles – have seen volumes rocket 62.7%, driving a £17.7m gain.
Asian-inspired ready meals
Itsu, another Asia-inspired restaurant business, is also in healthy growth. In grocery’s ambient ready meals segment, volumes are up 9.1% for lines such as noodle cups – demand for which has also boosted sales for Nissin.
The Japanese brand has seen its volumes soar 20.8% “due to increased penetration, average weight of purchase and frequency”, explains Aastha Tripathi, NIQ senior analytics executive.
This growth of east Asian-style options was the reason for Premier Foods’ August launch of Cook With Noodles. Debuting with Chicken and Beef, it allows home cooks to create tasty meals in minutes, says Basak Melik, Premier’s brand director for quick meals, soups & snacks.
“Noodles are also often cooked with other ingredients such as protein and vegetables, and Cook With Noodles provide consumers with a product designed precisely for this purpose, with flavours that can be adapted to suit a range of different dishes.”
The Gym Kitchen ready meal challenger
At healthy challenger The Gym Kitchen, chilled ready meals include Singapore Noodles and Korean Beef Chilli. But their 39% rise in volumes is down to more than just trendy recipes, suggests founder Segun Akinwoleola.
“Generous portion sizes, quality ingredients and focus on incredible taste appeal to a consumer seeking the best value for money, as well as a new, younger, meal prep-focused shopper looking for nutrition benefits, convenience and taste at affordable prices,” he says.
This desire for affordable prices is likely the chief reason for a decline in volumes at Charlie Bigham’s. The premium powerhouse of chilled meals is down 2.1% – but less than the overall sector. Which underlines the breadth and width of the brand’s fanbase.
Top Launch 2023
Side | Charlie Bigham’s
Here’s the final piece of the jigsaw for chilled ready meals’ biggest brand. Charlie Bigham’s released its six-strong Side range in May, exclusively with Tesco. Chunky Chips, Cauliflower Cheese, Potato Dauphinoise, Green Vegetable Medley, Aloo Gobi and Bombay Potatoes (rsp: £4/210g-450g) have joined the brand’s mains and desserts. Which means shoppers can now pick up a complete meal solution as “a one-stop alternative” to takeaways and dining out, Bigham’s says.
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Ready meals 2023: Asian options benefit from at-home shift