General Mills UK Enters Chinese Food Category with Wanchai Ferry

xiang-gu-branded-low-resConsumers will soon be able to enjoy creating their own authentic Chinese recipes at home with the launch of a range of recipe kits under the Wanchai Ferry brand.

General Mills UK is drawing on its world foods expertise to launch Wanchai Ferry – a brand with over 30 years of history in China – into the UK.

The story of the Wanchai Ferry brand dates back to 1977 when a lady named Madam Chong moved to Hong Kong Island from the Chinese mainland. In order to provide for herself and her two daughters she made dumplings and sold them on the Wanchai Ferry pier. Such was the quality of her recipes she became known as the dumpling queen of Hong Kong and set up her own business in 1984, soon becoming a household name throughout China.

Wanchai Ferry was rolled out in UK grocery from the middle of March and will be backed by a £4 million marketing programme, spearheaded by national TV.

The Wanchai Ferry range consists of a trio of authentic flavours from three Chinese provinces:

•Xiang Gu Chicken Recipe Kit (Zhejiang Province) – a blend of succulent Shitake mushrooms in a rich black bean and ginger sauce
•Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Kit (Szechuan Province) – crunchy toasted peanuts in a lively Szechuan sauce
•Bo Luo Pork Recipe Kit (Guangdong Province) – sweet and juicy pineapple in a fruity, tangy Cantonese sauce

wcf_rangeshot_a5Wanchai Ferry has been developed to enable Chinese food enthusiasts to raise the quality bar when cooking at home, bridging the gap in the category between quick and easy sauces, and cooking meals from scratch, which can be inaccessible and a little daunting for many UK consumers.
Explaining the rationale behind the company’s latest new product development, Andy Foweather, Sales Director for General Mills UK, says: “Wanchai Ferry has been brought to the UK to move consumers on a culinary journey; taking them from low involvement functional Chinese meals to more pleasurable, highly creative solutions.

“Analysis of category data shows that Oriental is underperforming compared with the rest of the Ethnic category. What’s more, there were 127 new product launches in the Oriental category in the last three years and only three products have been able to break the £1 million barrier. It is quality therefore, not quantity that drives category growth.

“Our ambition is to grow Wanchai Ferry to an £8 million-plus brand in the first year.

wanchaiferry_logo“People aspire to have the same food at home that they enjoy in restaurants. And, in these uncertain times, UK consumers are opting to stay at home more and more, treating themselves to high quality food at the weekends as an alternative to eating out.

“Wanchai Ferry delivers a new weekend occasion for home-cooked Chinese food and as a result will deliver incremental sales growth to the Oriental category.”

Research conducted by General Mills UK indicates that 61% of current Chinese meals are seen as quick and easy or routine.* Pre-launch testing revealed that 63% of consumers claimed that they would eat Wanchai Ferry most often on a Friday or Saturday evening.**

General Mills UK will be backing the launch of Wanchai Ferry with a £4 million marketing support programme, which will be spearheaded by national TV advertising. The marketing plan will also include experiential activity, consumer press and extensive online activity. In store, the brand will be supported by POS and off-shelf displays.

Ed Culf, Marketing Director for General Mills UK, says: “The marketing activity will create impact around the launch; inspire consumers to be more adventurous with their Chinese home-cooking; and educate them on how best to do that.

“This is the biggest marketing investment put behind a Chinese branded launch in the last five years. Wanchai Ferry represents the biggest new branded entry into the Oriental category for the last five years. With our long-standing Ethnic credentials and track record for building market leading brands; and with three exciting flavours, a recipe that truly ensures excellent results every time, Wanchai Ferry stands to be a great success.”

Wanchai Ferry will be available in striking new packaging designed for the UK market and will have a manufacturer recommended retail price of £3.89.

* Source: General Mills European Meal Segmentation Oct 2006

** Source: Evaluator Quant Research July 2007

General Mills UK   tel: 01895 201100