ATLANTA -- Retailers on the lookout for a fresh meal model should turn to England, according to three consultants who spoke at the Meal Solutions Market, a conference held here on Nov. 21 and 22 by The Marketing Institute, a division of the Institute for International Research, New York.
"The English are very good at this," said Dr. Marcia Schurer of the food consultancy Culinary Connections, referring to the meal-solution options in U.K. stores. "They have a great variety of fresh foods in single servings and convenient packaging."
Schurer said that in the United States, manufacturers and retailers are mistakenly centering product development and packaging activity on the disappearing family of four, while neglecting smaller families and the elderly.
The consultant also suggested that manufacturers develop and market more innovative products. "This is a potential $100 billion industry, and it's going to go somewhere else," she said.
In Europe, retailers and their suppliers are capturing that business, the speakers said.
"In Paris today, you can very easily find people walking down the street eating a Marks & Spencer sandwich," said Simon Williams of the brand consultancy Sterling Group. He said that London-based Marks & Spencer's strategy is to "dominate the meal-solutions market" through quality and partnerships with manufacturers.
The U.K. retailers are successful in meal-solutions marketing because consumers have great confidence in the quality of their private-label fresh brands, said Jonathan M. Kramer, president of co-marketers J. Brown/LMC Group.