Stouffers goes out for lunch

For the more than half of all employed Canadians who bring their lunch to work, relief from sandwiches or warmed-up leftovers beckons with a new frozen food entry from Stouffer's.Lunch Express comprises ten different microwavable meals, each costing about $2.Bob Leonidas,...

For the more than half of all employed Canadians who bring their lunch to work, relief from sandwiches or warmed-up leftovers beckons with a new frozen food entry from Stouffer’s.

Lunch Express comprises ten different microwavable meals, each costing about $2.

Bob Leonidas, Stouffer’s frozen foods vice-president, says the target market for Lunch Express is anyone who brings food to work.

Leonidas says this group represents a ‘tremendous’ opportunity to expand the frozen category, adding the goal is 25% growth in the next three years.

‘People are craving for something more than a sandwich,’ Leonidas says.

Stouffer’s research shows 55% of all employed Canadians bring their lunch to work at least once a week, and 72% of them have access to a microwave.

In contrast, 24% of employed Canadians buy lunch at the office or at a restaurant.

Leonidas says there are 10 single serving items on the Lunch Express menu.

They are macaroni and cheese with broccoli, Swedish meatballs, chicken chow mein, fettuccine primavera and lasagna casserole.

Lunch Express Lean Cuisine offers Oriental-style stir fry, chicken Italiano, fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli, cheese lasagna casserole and macaroni and cheese with broccoli.

Leonidas says there are 28 items on the Lunch Express menu in the u.s., where the new meals were launched a year ago.

According to Stouffer’s, 74% of those Americans who have bought Lunch Express meals say they liked the product enough to buy them again.

Steve Giuliani, Stouffer’s vice-president of sales, says company research in Canada shows Lunch Express will expand the frozen dinner and entree market with the expansion coming from new users and new use occasions.

Over the last year, Giuliani says the frozen dinner and entree category has grown 6%.

Leonidas says Stouffer’s rolled out Lunch Express in Quebec and Atlantic Canada first – on Oct. 1 – for a couple of reasons.

The new product tested well in those two places, and Stouffer’s wanted to be the first with such a meal in the important Quebec market.

As for Ontario and the rest of the country, Leonidas says Lunch Express will be introduced later, but will not say when.

He notes the biggest market – Ontario – also carries the biggest risk for Lunch Express so he wants to assess how well the meals do in the eastern one-third of the country first.

Leonidas says he does not expect consumers to buy lots of Lunch Express packs and store them in the freezer at home.

He says what he would like to see is buyers pick up one or two meals a week.

Leonidas will not disclose details of the advertising and marketing support for Lunch Express.

However, Stouffer’s says beginning in January the company will advertise heavily to build awareness and generate trial, although it does not say which medium it will use.

Also, Stouffer’s says extensive in-store sampling and couponing is planned.

Stouffer’s is a product line of Toronto-based Nestle Canada, owned by Swiss conglomerate Nestle.