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4 Lessons from the Most Innovative Australian Ready Meal Companies

May 05, 2020 by Mark Dingley

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The ready meal segment is heating up, with a handful of Australian businesses innovating their way to the front of the shelves.

Here’s the state of the market:

The Asia–Pacific (APAC) ready-to-eat/prepared meals market was already set to grow in 2020. It was predicted to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4% from AU$42.6 billion to AU$55 billion by 2023, according to GlobalData.

Then coronavirus came along and gave consumers even more impetus to stock up on convenient food options.

The APAC region makes up almost one-third (32.5%) of the global market for ready-to-eat meals.

Why are they so popular? Because 6 in 10 consumers prefer ‘easy-to-consume’ products and 63% actively purchase ‘time and effort-saving’ products.

So, what does it take to tap into this booming market? How should you be innovating?

Here are 4 lessons from innovative Australian ready-meal companies:

  • Lesson #1: Think outside the polystyrene box

    When online meals company My Muscle Chef started losing customers due to its polystyrene delivery boxes, founder Tushar Menon decided to turn things around.

    Founded in 2013, the $100 million family business was taking Australia’s prepared meal market by storm with high protein, healthy meals. But it had compromised on the packaging by choosing polystyrene foam boxes – the cheapest and most commonly used delivery mode at the time.

    But customers started to complain and even cancel their orders. So, Menon looked for an alternative solution and found Woolcool liners, which were used by food delivery companies such as HelloFresh.

    These re-usable, recyclable liners are produced using 100% pure wool and provide an insulated packaging option for perishable goods. Today the company sells a staggering 190,000 meals each week and hit $100 million revenue last financial year.

  • Lesson #2: Source a unique ingredient

    Health food company Slendier offers a range of low calorie, low carbohydrate and vegan foods, including ready meal pastas with less than 50 calories per serve.

    So, how does it make low-carb, low-calorie pasta?

    With konjac, an ancient root vegetable consumed in Asia for centuries. The vegetable is milled into flour and used to produce konjac noodles, rice and pasta.

    The advantage of konjac noodles are the extremely low-calorie content, with just 10 calories per 100 grams, and the low-carbohydrate content, at less than 1 gram per 100 grams.

  • Lesson #3: Put a twist on a popular product

    Hot roast chicken is a massive industry with 90 million sold at Coles and Woolworths stores alone every year.

    So, Riverview Farms (part of Rivalea) knew they were onto a good thing when they introduced Hot Pork Roast with Crackle.

    They believe it’s not just convenience that drives people to buy ready-to-eat pork roast – it’s also the hesitation over how to cook the perfect pork roast.

    Taking a different approach, Riverview Farms aims to create a high level of product awareness and develop a strong long-lasting relationship with consumers by telling its brand story as Australian farmers. Watch the ad.

    Their ready-to-eat roast pork complete with crunchy crackle has since won the Gold Medal in Convenience Main Meals category, Best Convenience Main Meal and the Champion Australian Convenience Food trophy in 2019’s The Australian Food Awards.

    The product is roasted in-store and is now available at Coles.

  • Lesson #4: Know your target audience and market to them

    There’s are lots of ways to market to your target audience. Super Nature Foods used a brand ambassador who fits their values. The brand says its “snap-frozen meals are not only incredibly tasty, they’re made with some of the healthiest, most natural ingredients around.”

    As their ambassador, the brand chose Turia Pitt, an athlete who caught in a bushfire during an ultramarathon and suffered burns to 65% of her body.

    The ad campaign, launched in 2017, featured a powerful message about self-worth, self- belief, and how eating well is key to achieving them. Their goal was to “remind Australians it is not how you look that matters but how good you feel.”

No matter your food business, there are valuable lessons to take from these innovative food companies. What will you do differently in 2020?