Unilever is gearing up for a major assault on the chilled ready meal market with the launch of a range of meals that contain branded ingredients. The Colman’s, Knorr and Bertolli ready meals will be launched in the third quarter of this year.
It is thought to be the first time that Unilever has extended any of its core brands into the chilled ready meal market and is the first significant extension into a new category for the Colman’s and Bertolli brand for several years. The Knorr brand was extended into the functional drinks market last year and has also been extended into soups.
It is understood that the launches are a major part of Unilever’s new product development plans for the year and all three products are expected to receive a significant marketing spend. It is not clear if they will be promoted together or separately.
The new ranges are all thought to be based on the idea of a meal with a twist, which will be the branded ingredient. The Colman’s range includes sausages and Colman’s mustard mash.
The Bertolli range of lasagne, spaghetti carbonara and pasta bake are thought to contain both Bertolli olive oil and pasta sauces. The Knorr range is also understood to be made using Knorr sauces and will include dishes such as chicken korma.
According to food industry sources, the ranges are still in the early stages of development. It is understood that Unilever is keen to break into the market because it is a key growth area in chilled especially among young, professional consumers.
One source adds that the use of branded ingredients aims to appeal to existing customers of the Knorr, Bertolli and Colman’s brands to trial the product and to give the meals a "home" prepared feel.