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Paced by frozens, ready prepared meals up 23% in France, Germany & United Kingdom.

Paced by Frozens, Ready Prepared Meals Up 23% in France, Germany & United Kingdom

There are two kind of fisherman, the old saying goes, those who fish for sport and those who catch something. Well in the leading markets of Western Europe, it's the companies that are packing ready prepared fish meals that are catching something - namely business.

Dominated by frozens with a 65% market share, the ready prepared meals market has grown in France, West Germany and the United Kingdom at a compound rate of 23% per annum over the last five years, according to Hellmut Stohr, managing director of Beeck-Feinkost GmbH, Hamburg. The United Kingdom accounted for almost half of the 306.6 million pound market in 1987, with the rest of the volume equally divided between France and Germany.

It is worth noting that of the 315 new ethic lines introduced into the U.K. market during 1988, some 62% were ready meals. Heightened brand and own label competition among value added products in the name of the game throughout Europe. Indeed, Findus has spent around 20 million [pounds] to advertise its Lean Cuisine range.

Over the next five years growth in prepared meals volume is projected to be in the 10% range, with poundage hitting the 492.4 million mark. France is expected to chart the greatest expansion during this period with a 12% advance.

France is also the most bullish on frozen ready meals, as this segment accounts for 85% of the business, followed by chilled's 11% and shelf stable's 4%. In the U.K. the respective shares are 58%, 39% and 3%. Interestingly, chilled has a negligible presence in Germany, while frozen dominates with 57% trailed by shelf stable's 43% claim.

Just how well does fish stack up against other protein products in the European frozen ready meals market? Swimmingly in France, with Findus contributing heavily to frozen's 50% share of value added fish and seafood packs. The numbers are also significant in the U.K., while in West Germany fish dishes represent just 25% of total ready meals sales (mostly fish fingers and breaded fillets).

Herr Stohr said that the future potential for the usage of fish in ready meals served in Europe is excellent. But he qualified the assessment with one condition: "Marketing must change dramatically from being production oriented to being consumer oriented."

The following marketing guidelines were given by the Beeck-Feinkost executive:

* As home consumption is influenced by restaurant dining experiences, manufacturers should first concentrate on expanding in the catering sector.

* Since fish is considered by many consumers to be difficult to prepare, the convenience factor must be heavily emphasized. And not only for commodity products, but also for the more sophisticated ones. And to better acquaint customers with ready meals, publicity should be generated high-lighting recipes and preparation methods.

* Efforts must be made to capitalize on society's health consciousness by emphasizing the product's low calorie, minimally processed and natural attributes.

* Fish should be creatively merchandised as something more than just pollock or trout. Emphasize innovative ready meals that feature upscale ingredients such as salmon, sturgeon, turbot, shrimp and scallops.

* Address the youth market with specially-shaped products mimicking popular characters such as Batmam. Tasty fillings using ketchup and relish should also be employed, along with colorful coatings.

In conclusions, Stohr summarized the main factors stimulating growth in ready prepared meals as follows: consumer convenience; product development and availability; packaging developments; retailer influence; microwave penetration. [Tabular Data Omitted]

PHOTO : The European market for ready-made fish meals will continue to be especially strong in the U.K., France and West Germany, reports Hellmut Stohr, managing director of Hamburg-based Beeck-Feinkost, a Campbell Soup unit.
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Title Annotation:ready-to-eat meal sales in Europe
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:The new pan-European seafood market: up to 773 million potential fish eaters.
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