Sobeys has launched Easy Meals — a line of pre-packaged meals, prepared in store in the seafood, meat, kitchen and deli departments.
The grocery retailer is answering a growing demand for meal kits that deliver convenience and healthier food options to its customers. As such, Sobeys is marketing Easy Meals to Canadians of all ages, from students who miss having home-cooked meals to seniors, empty nesters and busy young families.
“We're taking the stress and hassle out of mealtime by providing Canadians with wholesome, convenient and affordable meal options, right when they need them, in the departments they're familiar with,” said Richard Allardyce, senior director, Home Meal Replacement.
Easy Meals include a variety of meat and seafood selections with pasta and veggie sides and are available in both “heat and serve” and “cook and serve” formats. The project has been more than a year in the making and inspired by international retailers, as well as feedback from Sobeys customers and internal analytics teams.
Sobeys is wise to look at international retailers to find new ways of providing diversified products and services to its shoppers. Meal kits perform exceedingly well in the United Kingdom, according to Nick Thompson, head of customer solutions for Trace One. These ready meals, as they are called across the pond, have helped fuel the growth of private label there. Euromonitor International reported that, in the United Kingdom, “private label remained the leader in ready meals with a combined 68% retail value share in 2016, with Tesco having the highest percentage of 18%. The nature of the products within ready meals allows retailers to experiment with different recipes and flavor combinations, which in turn helps them to increase product availability and meet a wide range of consumer needs and specific tastes.”
The new initiative also comes at a time when Sobeys is strengthening its business offering to keep up the changing needs of the industry and its customers.
“What's exciting about Easy Meals is that in addition to directly addressing our consumers' needs, it also reflects how we are growing and diversifying our business,” said Bryon Feener, senior director, Commercial Programs — Meat and Seafood. “We're working in unison with our various departments and vendors to provide a consistent offering for customers coast to coast. The result is an affordable and quality solution for Canadians who are in a mealtime pinch.”
Sobeys plans to refresh the offering with chef-inspired recipes that are seasonally relevant and “always on trend.” The company will also support the new launch with an extensive marketing program that includes in-store, direct-to-consumer initiatives and a dedicated ad campaign across owned and digital media.
“Consumers want convenience, and providing a full-meal solution clearly meets a need for consumers,” Meagan Nelson, client director of Nielsen's Fresh Growth and Strategy team, told Own Brands Now in April, regarding the potential of meal kits to drive traffic and help boost sales. “There is ample opportunity for both delivery and in-store options to capitalize on that need.”