Ross Davison, Convenience Controller at Kepak Consumer Foods, talks to Wholesale Manager about the sales opportunity Rustlers presents in Food to Go, and how wholesalers can seize the opportunity to make more money from the category.

How is the Rustlers range currently performing?

Rustlers is going from strength to strength and worth £115.6m*1 while currently experiencing double digit growth YoY*1. We’ve had 21 years of sustained growth and record sales in 2020, making us one of the UK’s biggest FMCG brands. Positioned in Food to Go, Meal for Tonight or dual sited in store, Rustlers acts as a beacon brand in the convenience chiller, selling more than 2 packs every second in the UK1.

What products from the Rustlers range do you recommend wholesalers stock in the Food to Go chiller?

We’ve developed a range of must-stock lines that allow wholesalers to provide the products that their retailers need to meet the demands of their on-the-go shoppers.

Our Core4 range fulfils both the functional and emotive needs of shoppers in search of a quick, quality, tasty food to go option and provides options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, making our range a one stop shop.

Core4 meets the needs of different shopper missions throughout the day:

• Rustlers Quarter Pounder is the No.1 selling micro-snacking product in impulse, selling seven every minute*2, meeting shopper demand for a classic burger solution.

• Rustlers All Day Breakfast Sausage Muffin is the first dedicated breakfast product in the Rustlers range, and has quickly become one of Rustlers’ top-selling products worth almost £2m in the impulse channel*2.

• Rustlers Southern Fried Chicken Sub makes an ideal lunchtime option, helping retailers compete with popular high street foodservice options in the food-to-go arena.

• Rustlers BBQ Rib is worth £2.5m in the impulse channel and in +15.8% growth YoY*2.

Do you forecast the Food to Go market to grow over the next five years?

2020 saw a rapid change in consumer behaviour, namely the shift to more home working, that could have long-term implications for the Food to Go category in convenience and wholesale alike. Wholesalers should adapt their offering to fit with evolving retailer needs and shopper habits rather than waiting for old habits to return.

Now, with the easing of restrictions, retailers have a significant opportunity to make more money from their food to go fixtures with our bespoke range of instore solutions, which in turn will drive in store sales and retailer demand for our products.

One such example is One Stop retailer Aman, who saw sales of Rustlers boosted by 40% less than a month after installing one of our new branded Food to Go units.

How does the brand plan to capitalise on the growing Food to Go opportunity?

Food to Go is a massive opportunity in convenience and brands such as Rustlers have a key role to play.

We now offer an innovative range of Rustlers branded food to go equipment, with four retail concepts to provide the perfect solution for every store. From a small microwave up to a larger-scale multi-station unit, each installation is supported by merchandising and category advice plus range recommendations.

While the microwaves can be used to cook other hot food-to-go products, providing a cross-category solution, they are pre-programmed to cook the bestselling Rustlers SKUs, driving further demand and sales. What merchandising advice do you have for wholesalers?

It is crucial to make the chilled room in depots as quick and easy as possible to shop for retailers. Stocking SKUs by occasion including breakfast, lunch and meals for tonight helps retailers maximise the dual siting opportunities in their stores. Keeping the chilled room tidy and clean also allows the retailer to navigate quickly and find what they came looking for with ease.

Ensuring you have 100% availability at all times is also important as empty shelves mean lost sales. Make sure bays are fully stocked at all times to meet high levels of customer demand, especially with your best-selling lines. We’ve seen great success stories from depots that double stack at peak times.

How do you work with wholesalers to improve sales?

We pride ourselves on the level of comprehensive support we offer to wholesalers, through marketing materials such as depot POS, category insight and high POR. We also run frequent retailer promotions such as wholesale deals and vouchers, driving footfall and sales through the wholesale channel.

Does Rustlers have any NPD coming up?

Following the successful launch of our new range of food to go solutions in the convenience channel, we are helping the channel optimise hot Food to Go offerings with our innovative Rustlers Cook in Box solution. Rolling out now across wholesale and convenience, Cook in Box allows shoppers to heat a fully assembled burger without even opening the pack, eliminating any messy preparation whilst also acting as a product carrier to enable easy consumption on the go.

Together with our new range of food to go solutions, Cook in Box creates a low cost, low wastage approach for retailers who want to capitalise on the growing demand for Food to Go.

Chilled and food to go is a growing market and we’re committed to bringing in the right range at the right time to reflect market trends.

What marketing support will the brand receive this year?

Brands are critically important to help retailers unlock the true potential of chilled, with well-crafted propositions and marketing investment ultimately driving footfall.

Late last year we launched our latest national marketing campaign, ‘Better Than You Think’, which forms an integral part of our growth strategy to shift perceptions of Rustlers. The initial phase of the campaign generated over 88 million opportunities for consumers to see the brand, with further activity planned throughout 2021.


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