Single Serve

21 April 2009 (Last Updated April 21st, 2009 18:30)

Individually packaged food portions may prove a lucrative endeavour as the trend of 'cooking for one' continues. Around the world, food outlets and packaging firms begin to cash-in.

Single Serve

Cooking for one can often be an expensive and wasteful task, as food portions come in quantities more suited to feeding a group. Singles are often faced with the dilemma of eating the same meal three days in a row or throwing out unwanted food, too quickly past its sell by date.

But now a number of companies are aiming to change this by offering more choice, with a selection of limited-edition meat cuts, specially portioned for the singles market. As more people are living on their own, this market is set to expand in the future and could prove a wealthy investment for firms getting on the singles train early.

A Norwegian firm, called Kiwi Go'Helg (Good Weekend), has begun to stock a new line of singles-focused food by Fatland that consists of a rotating line of meat products. The products are only available for a week before a new single portion is introduced in its place. Positioned as a way for Kiwi grocery stores to increase meat sales, the quick rotation of products in this line takes the limited-edition concept to an extreme.

Meanwhile, Freshly Wholesome Gourmet has recently launched an innovatively packaged microwaveable line of ready meals to the US and Canadian markets. The Freshly Wholesome Gourmet Complete Meals come in trays that use steam-microwaving technology during the cooking process. This is said to use 40% less energy than traditional microwaveable entrees and to cook meals from the 'outside in' as opposed to the 'inside out' traditional form of microwaving.

The company claims that this reduces the cooking time by up to 50% compared to traditional microwave products. The energy-saving claim for this steam microwaving packaging appears to be a first.

"Cooking for one can often be an expensive and wasteful task."

Personable packaging

Whether or not an individual cooking for one chooses a certain food item in a shop largely depends on how it is packaged –pieces of meat being individually packaged, for example, can make a big difference.

Over in Israel, Pri Nir has introduced Pri Nir Pizza Sauce, a ready-made sauce which is said to be similar to homemade sauce and to be a source of vitamin C. What makes this sauce stand out is its packaging though; the sauce is presented in a yogurt-pot sized container, placing this sauce into the single-use category.

Pringles has also boosted its premium savoury snack offerings with the launch of Pringles Restaurant Cravers potato crisps in the US. The potato chips come in the unusual flavours of mozzarella sticks and marinara, cheeseburger, onion blossom and cheesy fries, and could perhaps appeal to consumers seeking quick, easy immediate food rather than full meals that take lengthy periods to cook.

Image-conscious portions

In an increasingly image-conscious world, the size of portions in which food is presented can also affect a buyer's decision. Although it will almost definitely be a more expensive option, shoppers looking for a meal for one will often turn to smaller portioned products as opposed to buying in bulk. Indeed researchers in the US have found that serving portions in smaller sizes – and even eating with smaller utensils – can have an affect on overall consumption levels.

"The size of portions in which food is presented can also affect a buyer's decision."

But although this may be good for waistlines, the packaging of these food items inevitably increases and therefore this consumption trend has a negative impact on the environment. For every single meat product sold for example, there are additional layers of wrapping that increase an individual's food-print.

Catering for specific user groups is not a new thing. Child-sized portions, family bucket meals and couple's eat-in offers line supermarket shelves and food outlets.

But as the number of people living alone increases, so too does the number of companies catering to the 'for one' market – and so they should, as this is often one of the groups with the most disposable cash.

This article first appeared on our sister website Food Business Review.