Ready-Made Market in Fresh Focus
Australian family-owned and leading manufacturer Beak & Johnston (B&J) produces more than one million convenient high-quality inspiring meal solutions each week, from irresistible soups, appetising sauces, enticing sous vide meats, moreish pies to wholesome ready-made meals.
B&J was founded in 1986 by fourth-generation butcher David Beak, with the business evolving from meat-cutting and processing to producing meals, pastries, sausages and burgers for quick-service restaurants and supermarkets.
Manildra Group’s Australian-grown and made ingredients ranging from flour and sugar to starch, semolina, maltodextrin and icing sugar go into B&J brands such as Latina Fresh, Ready Chef, Beak & Sons, Strength Meals Co. and Pitango, to Pasta Master’s lasagnes and the sweet and savoury premium Simmone Logue range of pies, sausage rolls and cakes.
Sales of ready-made meals are surging in Australia, driven by a lack of cooking skills, increasingly busy lives of young professionals and families, COVID-19 lockdowns and a desire for healthier, delicious convenient meal options.
“We’re famous for our innovative value-adding meal solutions,” said B&J Chief Commercial Officer Shannon O’Connell, within both the Australian and New Zealand fresh convenient solutions market.
Unlike meal kits, which require chopping and cooking of delivered ingredients, ready-meals are pre-cooked and just need to be reheated before serving, with B&J’s witnessing demand for high protein and nutritionally balanced meals, including vegan and plant based.
“There is a shift in demand for family-sized meals, specifically those that are more difficult or time-consuming to make from scratch such as a quiche, pie or lasagne, as well as cooking healthy meals for one, and high protein solutions,” she said.
B&J is Australia’s largest manufacturer of Italian lasagne, cannelloni and other pre-baked pastas made with Manildra Group’s Australian-grown and made Semolina, and their savoury pies, quiches, rolls, and pastries featuring Manildra Group’s Strong Bakers Flour.
To support the growth of the category and cement long-term success, B&J invested $90 million in
a new kitchen facility in Western Sydney, at a 12,000 square metre greenfield site next to their existing 10,000 square metre City Kitchen factory in New South Wales.
With construction completed in late 2022, the site features high-speed, automated assembly lines for ready-made meals and pastry products.
As one of Australia’s largest chilled ready-meal manufacturers, the build also features “state-of- the-art” high speed, automated lines to increase product quality and shelf life with oven baking, chilling, and freezing capabilities.
“We have a proud history of investing additional capital into the food manufacturing industry to ensure we can offer our customers consistent high-quality food products, produced sustainability and at the lowest cost.”
Mrs O’Connell said positioning B&J as a trusted supplier in a consumer-first approach required significant investment in consumer data and research – “so we have a strong understanding that it is important to create meals that are healthy, convenient, and trustworthy for consumers, to develop loyalty” – and technology as paramount in maintaining high quality and consistency.
B&J’s newly constructed site also features a fully automated pastry line with leading-edge baking, cooling, and handling solutions; end of line packing automation to reduce manual handling and improve productivity; and increased pallet storage space.
“Our B&J history is rich with innovation,” Mr David O’Neill, Chief Supply Chain Officer, said.
Investment in technology, research and development and partnering with suppliers is at the core of B&J’s success.
Recently, B&J had the opportunity to work with Manildra Group’s master bakers, technology, research, and development experts collaborating to further develop their pastry product line.
“We have been able to create a range of savoury pastries with Manildra Group’s help that has enabled us to submit for new business that will significantly increase our demand for flour,” said Mr O’Neill.
B&J have subsequently secured a contract with a major petrol and convenience operator.
Manildra Group New South Wales Sales Manager Barry Bance said our highly skilled team was delighted to work with B&J’s team on ground-breaking pastry trials from dough to bake.
“B&J’s world-class infrastructure, talented teams and ‘ahead of the curb’ innovation delivers convenient high-quality inspiring meal solutions with unrivalled taste, nutrition, quality, and convenience at their heart.
“Everyone deserves wholesome food and B&J’s produces premium ready-made-meals for Australians with an abundance of choice and with more time for meal enjoyment,” said Mr Bance.