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‘AT YOUR DESK’ OPPORTUNITIES

by SJ Barlow | Oct 13, 2014
Over a third of British workers eat lunch at their desk, according to a survey by Mars Foodservice1, making hot and healthy ready meals an even bigger opportunity for caterers.  
A total of 191 UK employees across a range of business environments were interviewed in the poll of workers’ lunch and snacking habits, conducted following the launch of Uncle Ben’s Rice Time and Dolmio PastaVita ambient snackpots into foodservice in February this year. 
Gareth Williams, brand manager for Mars Foodservice, said that to the question, ‘where do you typically eat your lunch?’, 37% of responses were ‘at my desk’1. “A lot of people are, clearly, strapped for time and are often choosing a sandwich over a canteen meal for the convenience factor, even though they would prefer something hot and healthy,” he said.
“With Uncle Ben’s Rice Time and Dolmio PastaVita, operators are able to offer workers a hot alternative to a sandwich that they can eat at their desks, as well as make a healthy margin by selling the twinpots through a vending machine when canteens are closed."
Full of authentic flavour, the snackpots take just 90 seconds to heat up in the microwave to sell over the counter, while they can also be sold from a vending machine as a 24-hour food solution when canteens close, the ideal solution for workers on a night shift. 
The best selling flavours in the 300g twin pot range are Dolmio Bolognese and Uncle Ben’s Sweet and Sour, two of 18 varieties in the overall range, corresponding with the survey’s findings that ‘Italian’ and ‘Oriental’ are the top snack flavour types2. 
Other tasty varieties include Dolmio Tomato & Basil, Sweet Pepper and Carbonara, and Uncle Ben’s Mexican Chilli, Spicy Tikka Masala and Red Thai Curry. Tasty and filling, with low in fat varieties, the snackpots display visible GDAs and, as a hot alternative to a sandwich, some are recognised as a ‘smart swaps’ option by Change for Life.  
Operators who are on the lookout for a quick and easy branded meal or snack solution might also be interested in the survey respondents’ perceptions of the snackpots after tasting. 
Gareth said: “What was extremely positive was the fact that an overwhelming 65% of responses to the question, 'what did you think of the products after tasting?’ came back as ‘tasty / full of flavour’4, demonstrating the quality of our new to foodservice food solutions.” 
Uncle Ben’s Rice Time and Dolmio PastaVita are the biggest contributors to growth in the ‘ambient ready meals’ retail category during the past 12 months5, delivering 58% of the £9m category growth and presenting a host of opportunities for the fast casual catering sector.  
Both ranges come in cases of five with an RRP of £2 each. For a free sample or to trial the snackpots, email mars.foodservice.uk@effem.com.

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