Unilever BestFoods and Masterfoods will be locked in a head-on battle with the relaunch of their flagship pasta sauce brands later this year.
Unilever BestFoods is understood to be investing up to &£10m in its Ragu relaunch, and it is likely to involve a new look and marketing strategy. Meanwhile, Masterfoods is looking to develop a new character for Dolmio to move it away from its Italian associations. It is expected to position the brand as a staple for family cooking.
Dolmio first moved away from using Italian associations in its advertising when it launched a range of microwaveable pasta and sauces, which are available in pouches. The advertising focused on the convenience of being able to create quick pasta meals.
Ragu also uses Italian-style advertising, but it is not clear what direction its new campaign will take. Its advertising is handled by BMP DDB, which won the &£2m account from Oglivy & Mather in February 2002 (MW February 14, 2002).
The liquid pasta sauce market is worth &£254m and saw nine per cent growth last year, according to the latest figures from Taylor Nelson Sofres. Dolmio is the top-selling liquid pasta sauce brand in the UK, and its stir-in pasta sauce is the third best-selling product. Ragu does not feature in the top four.
The relaunches are expected to breathe in new life into the category. The sector has seen some innovation and new entrants such as Discovery Foods, which is better known for its Mexican cooking sauces.