A Swedish company is looking to bring its gourmet meal kit concept to London, thanks to its use of the innovative 'whistling pack' technology.
Gooh!, a joint venture between distributor Lantmännen and the Nobis restaurant chain, which includes the Michelin-starred Operakällaren in Stockholm, is a standalone retail operation offering bake-off, fresh juices and smoothies, along with ready meals.
As reported in The Grocer (February 4, p14), the meals feature MicVac technology, which uses a special valve. During production, it releases steam and oxygen and cooks, pasteurises and vacuum-packs the meals, giving them a chilled shelf life of three to four weeks. When the consumer reheats the meal in a microwave, the valve whistles when it is ready.
Now Gooh!, which opened its first Stockholm outlet in September 2005 and has four in the city, with two more set to open next week, is actively seeking UK partners to extend the business to London.
Jonas Regnér, sales and marketing director, said: "Before we launched the concept in Sweden, we visited and researched the London market.
"We thought of it as the headquarters of fast ready meals. We looked at Marks and Spencer and Pret a Manger, among others, but we could find nothing exactly like our operation and we would be glad to find partners to expand here."
The take-home meal kit concept has had mixed fortunes in the UK, with the Rocket and Leaping Salmon station kiosk ventures falling by the wayside in 2004, while the Cook chain continues to expand.
Rocket and Leaping Salmon ventures launched kiosks at London stations, in 2001 and 2003 respectively, before Rocket bought out its rival and axed the kiosks in favour of supply deals with retailers, including Somerfield, the Co-operative Group and Whistlestop.
Owner Unilever Ventures finally pulled the plug in June 2004, deeming it not "scaleable by Unilever standards".
Cook, which focuses on upmarket frozen ready meals and accompaniments, was established in 1997 and has 18 outlets mainly in the southeast.
Mary Carmichael