Has convenience missed the boat? Coles seizes ready-meal opportunity

Coles has seized a true convenience lunch and dinner opportunity introducing more than 40 new and improved ready-meals under its private label range.

Developed in conjunction with Australian producers, the new Coles brand ready-meals will be available in stores nationwide and online, however, the selection of meals will vary from store to store.

The new range offers a variety of portion sizes, with prices from $5. The range includes salads, soups, curries, quiches, pizza, pasta dishes and fresh pasta sauces, with options such as Coles Quiche Lorraine (700g, priced at $10), Coles Butter Chicken and Basmati Rice (350g, $5), Coles Beef Lasagne (400g, $7), and Coles BBQ Chicken & Bacon Pizza (470g, $5).

According to Charlotte Rhodes, Coles general manager meal solutions, deli, dairy and seafood, the new range was created with busy people in mind.

“We know our customers lead busy lives and they have told us they want help with the daily ‘what’s for dinner’ dilemma, so we’re introducing great value options for a quick dinner without compromising on taste,” Ms Rhodes said.

C&I Week understands products will be ranged within easy reach of the store entry; a product placement that allows shoppers to ‘grab and go’.

There are also three Coles Express sites currently trialling parts of the new ready-meal range. While this is not a widespread convenience outlet trial, it is understood if successful in Express sites Coles may look at expanding the ready-meal opportunity into more convenience outlets.

Has convenience missed the boat?
Jeff Rogut, CEO of the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) told C&I Week the ready-meal market remains a huge, untouched opportunity for local convenience stores following the growth and success of the segment internationally.

“I have even tried to make contact with some of the well known brands to develop products for convenience stores, but either due to lack of interest, hunger or not seeing the opportunity it has been ignored.  Logistics, shelf life etc are challenges for convenience store suppliers and retailers… but no more so that delivering fresh sandwiches – daily, to be really called fresh, or bakery goods,” he said.

“[Australian] convenience stores have not missed the boat, but a move by Coles or any other large retailers that invests in promoting the concept and creating awareness and demand is healthy for all parties.

“This may in fact stimulate manufacturers that already have the capability and logistics to now look seriously at the well established convenience channel as credible retailers for convenience meals. These could be breakfast offers – a huge gap and opportunity in our channel, lunch or snack meals for city workers or people on the go, or take home dinners. The possibilities are endless and also offers our stores the potential ability to offer customers healthier options which is what they are looking for.”

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