Getting Smaller in Order to Grow
Posted by Nicola Davies on September 27, 2012
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One product innovation I have found most exciting in recent years is the microwave rice pouch; after 2 minutes in the microwave, you’ve got perfectly cooked rice. Aside from the convenience factor, I was relieved to finally avoid the inevitable scenario of cooking more rice than intended. However, it seems that the pouch does not quite get rid of this problem because they contain two portions. Alas, I am still left with too much rice when I am cooking for one.
So it made me wonder, since there are so many single portion ready meals on the market, why is there not a single portion rice pouch? It serves the same need of convenience, yet it does not offer the flexibility of cooking for one (or even for three)! Surely the likes of Tilda and Uncle Ben’s are missing a trick here, especially as it’s an effective way of adding value to their brand.
In 2008, Kelton Research found that 3 out of 4 Americans will eat meals alone at least some of the time and two thirds said they would prefer to eat this meal alone than at a restaurant. So, it seems that attitudes towards eating alone are evolving.
In terms of convenience, I look to the ready meal market and some helpful figures. In 2011, Mintel reported the UK ready meal market had a value of £3.3bn in 2010 – a significant amount, especially when it’s growing 5% every year. The Euromonitor survey, Home Cooking and Eating Habits: Global Survey Strategic Analysis found that 23% of respondents bought a ready meal for their own consumption 1-2 times a week, and 8% did so almost every day. Convenience is the driving force behind many of these purchases, with 45% of people buying them because they do not have time to cook.
Rice pouches are not entire meals, but their appeal centres on convenience. If brands like Tilda and Uncle Ben’s want to make the most out of this wonderful product, they should extend their line to embrace those who eat alone, because in case you hadn’t heard, it’s not taboo anymore.