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Tesco aims for bigger bite of ready-to-eat segment

Tesco Lotus wants to become a challenger in the competition for a share of the Bt10-billion market for ready-to-eat meals sold at convenience stores.

"The market for ready-to-eat foods distributed through modern convenience stores has enjoyed strong growth of 15-20 per cent over the past three years. That will continue for at least five more years," Krisada Techamontreekul, trading manager for meal solutions, said yesterday.

In cooperation with more than 10 major branded food suppliers, including Pran Talay, Charoen Pokphand, Oishi, Sun Merry, Betagro and S&P, the retail giant has actively promoted the availability of ready-to-eat products at its Tesco Lotus Express branches, which are categorised as small-scale convenience stores.

CP All, operator of the 7-Eleven convenience-store chain, yesterday expressed confidence in defending its market share, thanks to its strong network of 7,800 branches across the country.

Krisada said consumer lifestyles were changing. People have little time to spare and smaller families. As fewer people cook at home, demand has been steadily building for convenient ready-to-eat meals.

One-third of the market is full meals and two-thirds light meals.

The company expects Tesco Lotus Express to account for at least 20 per cent of the market for ready-to-eat meals in convenience stores in three to five years.

Tesco Lotus operates 1,700 retail stores, of which about 150 are hypermarkets and 1,400 are convenience stores. The rest are medium-size stores called Talad Lotus.

A CP All source said the company planned to expand its 7-Elevens to more than 8,000 locations by year-end out of the 10,000 convenience stores operated by all players.

"We have stocked more than 2,000 ready-to-eat meals at our 7-Eleven stores already for more than four years. We welcome the competition, as consumers will be the beneficiaries," he said.

About 73 per cent of 7-Eleven's business is foods and beverages, while 10 per cent is services and the rest non-food products.

Wisak Kunasakullert, assistant vice president of Betagro Foods, said the company supplied about 150 ready-to-eat products to the industry, mainly modern retail stores, such as FamilyMart and Tesco Lotus, as well as its own Betagro shops.

The company will increase its offerings to 200-220 by year-end.


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