Coles is expanding its partnership with ready-made-meal provider Youfoodz into all 820 of its supermarkets nationwide after a year-long trial. The move reflected changing customer behaviour, said Coles general manager for fresh convenience, dairy and freezer Charlotte Rhodes, as research showed Coles’ customers are looking for faster options for lunch and dinner.
“Our research found that one in three customers don’t have the time to cook from scratch and 52 per cent are not interested in cooking more at home, with chopping and cutting regarded as the biggest pain points with meal prep,” Rhodes said. “And since COVID-19, we have seen a growing demand for Australian restaurant-quality food that won’t break the bank and provides healthier alternatives to fast food.”
For Youfoodz, the deal significantly expands where its ready-made-meals can be accessed beyond the 3000 postcodes it currently delivers to, to the more than 20 million Australians that shop with Coles. For Lance Giles, chief executive at Youfoodz, the goal is to make the ready-made-meal provider the most accessible in the country, and this partnership goes a long way to making that a reality.
“We are proud to be expanding, and excited with the partnership we have in place with Coles,” Giles said.
During the COVID-19 crisis, however, the ready-meal business also expanded into selling groceries for home delivery, alongside seasonal fruit and vegetables. And, according to UBS analyst Ben Gilbert, online grocery is expected to account for approximately 30 per cent of incremental growth, providing Coles and rival Woolworths the opportunity to further grow in this area, but also for smaller operators the room to flourish.
Additionally, Gilbert expects more and more customers to begin eating at home, rather than heading out to restaurants, post COVID-19. However, when taken with Coles’ research on customers being more time poor, this could mean an advantage for ready-at-home meals that can be quick to prepare and more cost effective than ordering take out.