What’s new in the chilled aisle? - Macphie

The marketing team at Macphie are constantly scouring supermarket, restaurants, food shops and markets to find out what is tickling the great British public’s taste buds. We are forever trying out new products, devouring cookery magazines, blogs and websites, working with our development chefs and speaking to our diverse customer base to find out which flavours and trends are coming through. It’s a hard life, we know!
A recent visit to the five leading UK supermarkets revealed some interesting trends, especially in the chilled and frozen prepared meals category. This growing chilled ready meals sector, accounts for an estimated 57% or £2.16bn of the overall 2012 UK retail sales for ready meals, pies and pasties (Mintel, 2012), with an additional 6% in the ready to cook chilled sector. The frozen prepared meals sector is much more stagnant, accounting for 11% of sales and is worth approx. £400million in revenues.
So how do the supermarkets fare in terms of their chilled and frozen convenience prepared meals?
As it may be expected, M&S continue to pioneer the chilled ready to cook and the ready to eat aisles, including the lunchtime and on the go sector. However Morrisons and Asda are also closely following, offering some innovative on trend products. For example, the Macphie team was quite fond of the Morrison’s Goats Cheese and Pear Salad with fig dressing.
The UK’s favourite meat protein, chicken, continues to have a strong and varied offering in the chilled ready to cook and eat ranges (including supermarket own brand and branded products). There are kievs ahoy, stuffed chicken, chicken “crumble” combined with seasonal or exotic flavours such as apricots, sun ripened tomatoes, pomegranate and butternut squash.
Vegetarians are also not forgotten, especially in the frozen ready meals aisles and we were quite excited to spot a frozen warm beetroot and feta potato salad with pumpkin seeds. Aimed at the BBQ season, we liked the concept as it was quite an innovative and interesting product.
The audit had exposed our taste buds to predominantly Moroccan, Asian, Mexican and British cuisine which are all on the rise.  Finally, beetroot and pomegranate are also rather trendy at the moment and can be found in couscous, salads, dips, drinks, dressings, etc.
Ivana Petrovich, Category Marketing Manager