- Published on Thursday, 01 March 2012 08:46
Article Read: 1537
Modern society favours convenience. And finding the quick and easy on-the-go solution when it comes to meals it seems pre packaged foods could fast become a popular menu choice.
In AMG37 spring issue article Breakfasts from the mini bar Angus McLeay wrote about a new trend dubbed by consumer analysts as the "convenience mega-trend" and touched on how the accommodation sector could adapt to the trend and capture more convenience-related food and beverage revenue.
Mr McLeay said responding to a fast developing trend often means re-thinking traditional operations and products. He cited SunRice, as a company that recognised the convenience mega-trend and successfully transitioned from a focus on growing rice to selling rice-based convenience meals.
Craig Orr, business development officer for SunRice, says pre packaged foods not only guarantees a meals consistency but can be a much more economically viable food option for accommodation providers. "Pre packaged foods are a guarantee of meal consistency particularly for shift workers or part time staff who are required to perform room service duties," Mr Orr said.
"From a wage cost perspective, the meal is already prepared so 'skill' is not required, other than heating which therefore enables a lower wage cost in both hourly rate (skill) and time to prepare (hours)."
SunRice's range includes Asian and Indian curries and rices, for example Indian Butter Chicken, Thai Green Curry, Thai Chicken Satay, Chinese Beef and Black Bean. Portions are 320g (160g rice and 160g curry).
"Our meals are not frozen; we use a retort technology that precooks the meals, locks in the real protein and other fresh ingredients. The primary benefit is that these are 12 months shelf stable," explains Mr Orr. "Shelf stable meals are growing with massive consumer demand because of the their product consistency, quality guarantee and lack of risk – they last 12 months, so the operator is not faced with managing six week stock rotation for refrigerated," he said.
SunRice also supply a range of Asian and Indian sauces that are available at retail.
"All of these products capitalise on the growing change of our population base, the demand for these flavours as a result of the people's travel, and also influence of new cheap restaurants," Mr Orr added.
LePack is a pre-packaged breakfast and snack pack supplier to properties. LePack owners Kim and John Hardcastle recently took over the ownership of LePack and believe pre packaged food, as a service offering within accommodation complexes, can be highly lucrative.
"The LePack range was designed with convenience for both the guest and the hotel operator at the top of mind," says Ms Hardcastle. "For guests it is simple, fast and effective. Everything that they need for a wholesome breakfast is right there in the pack. For peace of mind, each pack comes individually shrink wrapped and we use easily recognised, leading brand name products.
"For accommodation providers our packs are easy to use and handle, they have a long shelf life, don't require refrigeration and are delivered direct to your door. These features can help your business minimise waste and effortlessly monitor stock levels which means you can manage fluctuating demand with ease," she said.
Pre packaged foods can be used as a complete meal solution for properties or can be used as a cost addition to the present meal arrangements providing guests with the flexibility of choice.
Kyla Patterson, marketing and sales manager for Gourmet Meals, says pre packaged foods provide accommodation providers with a 24-hour solution to customer meal needs.
"Meals are able to be purchased and stored for long periods of time, ready for use in minutes from when required. Snap freezing means that no compromise is made on quality or taste, with the finest and freshest ingredients preserved just the way nature intended," says Ms Patterson. "The ability to store many different varieties of pre packaged products/meals, without the need for prep work, means providers have on hand 24 hours a day a quality meal that can be ready for service within minutes. This in turn leads to a reduction in staffing costs needed to service kitchens with prep and preparing meals, cleaning and service of products," she said.
Gourmet Meals are available in many home-style and traditional favourites. With a variety of roasts, casseroles, curries, soups and desserts options available. Ms Patterson says pre packaging meals allows her staff to portion control, nutritionally balance and ensure food allergy prevention.
"Customers can enjoy things such as a gluten free meal knowing that no cross contamination occurred on the premise. Waste is minimal due to the pre portioned meals, in fact the majority of waste is the packaging itself, which in some situations can double as the serving platter," she said. "Pre packaged meals also allow the consumer to take the lead, selecting and heating the meal themselves when convenient opposed to in the hours of operation of kitchens and other such services. Late night arrivals can be treated to a quality home-style meal in within five minutes of arrival."
Gourmet Meals has a range of desserts to suit any sweet tooth. The meals can be heated or thawed to provide a substantial portion. Apple crumble, strawberry cheesecake and tiramisu on hand all year round with mere seconds of preparation required.
"Our meals have been used by various hotels/motels as a late night option for customers and also staff when kitchens are closed. In some cases the meals have been provided in a vending machine scenario," says Ms Patterson. "No longer do customers need to concern themselves with how long the product has been sitting there. They can be delivered a quality, frozen ready meal that in just minutes can be heated and enjoyed. In some cases the benefits of pre packaging meals speaks for itself. Time is money - pre packaging saves time, without compromise," she added.