UK supplier of oriental chilled ready meals, Kwoks Foods, has launched a new product range for one of the UK's largest supermarkets. The new Asda range of Thai food has already launched in one trial store, with another planned in December. The supermarket giant plans a nationwide roll out in 2004.
Asda has become Kwoks' top customer, accounting for over 80 per cent of all orders. This latest request has been the most ambitious however, requiring a whole range of products to be developed within just ten weeks.
The brief also required a degree of authenticity. UK customers have come to expect high quality ready meals - supermarkets such as Marks & Spencer have pioneered the concept of high quality, time efficient meals. Indeed, exotic ready meals have become very much a part of culinary life in the UK.
To fulfill the order, Kwoks contacted a number of favoured suppliers in Thailand and asked them to source authentic snacks and meal accompaniments. Chef Gary Scott came up with a range of sauces, noodles and rice. In addition, equipment had to be found that could not only cope with the initial batch sizes required to begin a series of trials but could also handle the company's wok style of production.
New equipment was installed in the firm's factory to enable the order to be carried out. Asda hopes that the completed meals, which include green Thai chicken curry, yellow Thai vegetable curry, sweet and sour king prawns with shitake mushrooms and hot and sweet chicken, will help the supermarket to complete in the growing quality ready meals sector.
"The ethnic chilled ready meal market is growing and segmenting at such a pace that you cannot help but be drawn into the momentum," said Kwoks' managing director Ian Rosindale. "We are delighted that we were able to meet Asda's very tight deadlines. But more than that, we feel the meals and snacks offered are bespoke products of a quality to be proud of."
The Grimsby-based company, now a manufacturing division of William Jackson and Son, has grown rapidly since its foundation by chef Paul Kwok and retailer Wayne Rowlatt in 2000. The company under the direction of managing director Kwoks has a workforce of around 120, and there are plans to replace the present 8,000 sq ft factory with one over five times the size.