UK soup company Baxters is set to roll out new microwaveable pots for its soup brands across the country, hoping to ride the trend for snack foods that are both convenient and healthy.
Company spokesperson Kerr Arthur said that the trend for convenience foods shows no signs of slowing, while consumers still want products "which don't compromise on quality and taste."
Baxters seems to be on the right track, as 59 per cent of European and US consumers look for healthy food in convenient packaging when doing the weekly shop, according to market analysts Datamonitor.
The new soup bowls are packaged with a heat-proof sleeve, so the consumers not only save on washing up, they can also pick up the pot straight from the microwave, Arthur said.
What's more, the soups are made with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, butternut squash, carrots, beans and lentils, and are free from artificial colourings and flavours, he added.
According to Datamonitor, soup sales have grown surely but steadily in the EU in recent years, increasing 41 per cent between 2002 and 2007.
Consumers across the bloc opt for healthier soups, the analysts said, however countries vary in terms of the preferred format - in France and Spain, UHT soup is very popular, while Italians opt for frozen soup.
In the US, on the other hand, soup sales have slowed in the past year.
According to a Mintel report update released in March, sales of soup in the US are estimated to reach around $5bn for 2007, a 25 percent increase in current terms and a nine percent increase in constant terms since 2002.
However, the report identifies that much of this growth was due to a "one-year leap" in 2005, resulting from packaging innovations that started in 2004. Since 2005, sales have grown only slightly in current terms and declined in constant terms, said Mintel.