Clover jumps into the RTE meals market

Clover has made a big move into convenience foods, another ambitious foray out of its traditional dairy and beverage markets.

Its new offering in the Ready to Eat (RTE) category is a range of ready meals comprising family favourite recipes, apt;y branded the Whistling Chef.

The range offers not only tasty, fresh convenience but also extended shelf life thanks to being packaged in “first-to-Africa FreshVacSeal™ packaging technology”.

A collaboration between Swedish food tech company, Micvac, and Clover makes The Whistling Chef the first in South Africa to use Micvac’s ready-meal production and packaging method.

The technology involves in-pack microwave cooking and pasteurisation coupled with the company’s patented components: a tray and valve applied on the lidding film.

When heated in the microwave by the consumer, the valve produces a whistling sound that signals the meal is ready to eat.

The microwave pasteurisation process enables Clover to use real cheese, milk, butter, and cream without the use of preservatives and allows for a 30-day refrigerated shelf life.

Rather than investing in a completely automated Micvac filling and sealing line, Clover has installed a smaller and more flexible semi-automatic tray sealer, the MSA20, while it determines consumer response to the product line.

Clover’s current pasteurisation tunnel is approximately 23 ft. As demand for its ready-meal line grows, Clover can easily increase its capacity with more tunnel modules—the largest ever supplied by Micvac was 52 ft—and with an automatic filling and sealing line.

The packaging also incorporates an innovative ‘tray plate’ for easy eating and a first-to-market ‘no pierce’ film.

“We know what a struggle it is for families, moms who want to take the night off, and executives and students to rustle up a dinner that is nutritious, containing real, fresh ingredients that is ready in just a few minutes. It’s for this exact reason that we’ve created The Whistling Chef range,” says marketing manager at Clover, Mone Gerryts.

“Made with only the best and freshest ingredients, the Whistling Chef range contains real Clover cheese, milk, butter and cream to ensure a quality, preservative free product.”

The Whistling Chef offering has launched with five initial variants including Creamy Macaroni & Cheese; Cottage Pie; Creamy Alfredo; Beef Lasagne and Spaghetti Bolognaise.

The meals are preservative free, a source of calcium, colourant free and has protein from nine amino acids.

“Our RTE meals contain FreshVacSeal technology which means a pasteurised, longer shelf life,” says Mone. “And with the unique whistling packaging there’s no need to pierce the film on the meal either, your meal will literally whistle and let you know when it’s ready.

The Whistling Chef range is completely Halaal, and has been developed by food technologists and specialists.

It’s been available from the May 14 at select retailers and forecourts nationwide.

The product’s fun pay off lines perfectly sums up the range’s appeal across target markets: ‘Working late again!’, ‘Mom’s night off!’ and ‘Cooking for one made fun!’.

“We’re so excited to release this new range into the market and initial feedback has been incredibly positive,” says Gerryts.

Source: Clover,