Soup in a bottle: Re:Nourish seeks to break into UAE’s ‘fastest-growing FMCG category’
Re:Nourish’s soups are world-first in their product format, bring the first fresh soup anywhere to be sold in a microwaveable bottle.
The first concern when it comes to consuming products from directly microwaved packaging is chemical leaching and contamination of the food, but the firm’s Founder and CEO Nicci Clark assured us that the team has already worked around this concern.
“That’s a common concern, but we spent nine months designing the bottle specifically to work around this issue – what we’ve essentially done is to make the bottle BPA-free and use PP (polypropylene) as opposed to PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) as the material,” Clark told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“PET is the really concerning material when microwaved, as that is the one that tends to leach. So we’ve avoided PET and designed the bottles clearly such that no leaching will take place, in addition to ensuring these are 100% recyclable and carbon neutral too by offsetting any carbon emissions with clean water projects in other places like India and the Philippines.”
Clark’s reasoning behind investing so much effort into putting soup into a bottle to be microwaved is very much to offer consumers a higher level of convenience and food safety when looking to purchase a meal at the grab-and-go aisle in supermarkets or convenience stores.
“Within the grab-and-go category, we saw that juices in particular have really exploded in terms of popularity, but of course these are a sweet beverage option, often high in sugar and not so much a meal,” she said.
“Fresh soup can easily be a filling meal on its own as it can be made high in fibre and proteins and nutrients are easily absorbed – but we realised there was no grab-and-go option available and definitely none that could be heated directly and just taken on-the-go in a car or at a desk without utensils.
“Drinking from a bottle removes the need for utensils, a factor that became all the more obviously appealing from a [hygiene and food safety perspective] during the COVID-19 pandemic, so one could say that bottled soups are COVID-friendly meal options suited for consumers with fast-paced lives who still want to get good nutrition easily.
“There has been no disruption in the soup category since what seems like forever, and especially not in terms of bringing together functional health and convenience in this way – so we went ahead with the disruption of this very antiquated category, in a way that can tick every box from fresh to natural ingredients to nutrition and convenience.”
Once warmed up, the design of the Re:Nourish bottle also allows the soups to remain warm for up to 40 minutes.
Clark is now setting her sights on the Middle Eastern market for these products, particularly the UAE where she says the growth trajectory for soup is too good to miss out on.
“Soup is the fastest growing FMCG category in the UAE, faster than any others – This data has been backed by Euromonitor research, and the market value of the soup market is expected to double in value between 2015 and 2025 based on numbers from December 2020,” she said.
“Importantly, the fresh or chilled soup category has so far had no traction at all in the Middle East – the market-leading products are from brands such as MAGGI and Knorr but these are ambient/instant items, with much less focus on being healthy or functional such as fresh soups do.
“Along these lines, there is also a growing focus on health and immunity in the region, and fresh soups do have that connotation as it is but to take that a step further we have designed the products according to health and functional benefits, such as a kale, spinach and turmeric blend for +Immunity or a roasted carrot and ginger for +Digest.”
The firm currently has a total of nine different products in its range: Immunity, Digest, Hearty, Uplift, Calm, Energy, Fuel, Protect and Strength, which it rotates according to seasonal ingredient availability.
All Re:Nourish soups are retailing at AED28.50 (US$7.76) per 500g bottle in the UAE and are available in Choithram supermarkets and various e-commerce platforms. It is also available in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong at present.
In addition to soups, Clark also has plans to expand the firm’s expertise with functional ingredients into creating food supplements.
“This is an ongoing project, and we will test this out in the UK market first,” she said.
“The idea is to make little sachets containing functional herbs and botanicals such as ginseng, echinacea, passion flower, valerian and so on to support health functions such as mental health, immunity, sleep, libido and more.
“It’s not a new concept of course as various Eastern traditional medicine systems also do this, and our focus is to offer an added boost of functional health support.”