Whether it’s for snacks or meals, consumers want their pasta pronto and their rice and noodles even faster.
SPEED appears to be increasingly important for noodles and rice fans.
Unilever, brand owner of pot snack market leader Pot Noodle, which was said to have sales worth £211m in IRI moving annual total figures to November 2013, says that hot snacks sales are on the up. The same IRI research showed the category growing by 6.7% in the 12 months covered.
And the company reckons innovative, spicy flavours hold the key to continued expansion.
Monique Rossi, brand manager for Pot Noodle at Unilever UK, said: “The Bombay Bad Boy variant saw an average of 7.6% growth across all formats during 2013.” Unilever responded to the demand last year by launching a new spicy line, Piri-Piri Chicken, which is said to have already achieved sales worth £1.59m.
New product development this year included Brazilian BBQ Steak flavour, designed to capitalise on demand for South American flavours in the run up to the World Cup.
But it’s not just with instant snack lines that consumers are looking for quick fixes. Veetee Group quotes IRI figures that show that ambient microwaveable rice takes more than half (51%) of total rice category sales. It’s now worth £190m.
Dry rice is down 7% by volume, and is worth £180m. As consumers respond to rises in the price of basmati rice, Veetee has noticed consumers shifting away from basmati to more affordable rice products.
Next month Veetee’s entire range, including its recently-launched Wholegrain Brown Rice and Egg Fried Rice with free-range eggs, will have a new look.
Packaging has been redesigned to emphasise its “heat and eat in two minutes” message. Each pack also suggests how the rice can fit into a meal, and indicates whether the tray serves one as a meal or two as a side dish.
A print and PR campaign supporting the new brand positioning, packaging and products is scheduled to start in September.
Riso Gallo is working to move microwaveable rice upmarket. The company has a new two-minute product that uses black wholegrain rice, Venere, which is popular in Italian and Asian cuisines. The company also plans a superfood blend of Italian Rice, Spelt and Barley.
Its Gran Gusto is, the company claims, the UK’s quickest “quick-cook” rice. It uses Italian long grain rice and is ready in eight minutes.
For families with children, Riso Gallo has what it calls “a quality but convenient risotto that can be enjoyed by the whole family”. It is a healthier, low-sodium, vegetable-based risotto which cooks in eight minutes. Called Risottino, it will launch in two flavours soon.
The new products join 2013’s new lines: Easy Risotto, a five-minute microwavable pouch and Risotto Box, a creamy, traditional risotto in street food style packaging that is ready in 90 seconds.