Retail news: Waitrose adds Indian meals

Waitrose is taking on the big supermarkets' own-brand ready meals and independent takeaway outlets with a premium Indian meals range from award-winning London restaurant Quilon.

The Quilon ready-meal range, manufactured by Noon Products, mirrors the cuisine offered by the restaurant, which specialises in recipes from the Kerala region of southern India.

The packaging, designed by Parker Williams, features a prominent 'Q', which is intended to become the signature name for the products.

'We want people to ask for "that Q curry", so we have focused on it for the Quilon logo within the pack design,' said a Noon Products spokeswoman.

Quilon will be positioned as the top end of Waitrose's own-brand Indian meals.

The range, which goes on sale from 14 October, is priced to offer a cheaper alternative to takeaway restaurants: Quilon Coconut Rice will be priced £1.49, while a Malabar Banquet for two people will cost £11.99.

Quilon will rival Sainsbury's premium range, which is branded under the name of Indian restaurant Bombay Brasserie, although it is based on food from northern India. Sainsbury's also sells branded Yo! Sushi and Pizza Express products.

Indian cuisine is the biggest-selling category in the ready-meals and takeaway sector, accounting for 35% of the market. The sector has increased in value by 56% to £140m since 2000, according to Mintel.

The Quilon range comprises seven products, including four main dishes: Keralan Fish Curry, Lamb Varthade, Prawn Pappas and Chicken Cocunut Masala.

Quilon was voted Best Indian Restaurant in 2004 by the Tatler Restaurant Guide.

Sector insight, page 32.