Rethinking the Rules of Ready Meals to Satisfy a Man-Sized Appetite

How McCain Rejuvenated the Frozen Meals Category in the Face of Disruption



The Frozen Meals portfolio is the single biggest contributor to the McCain retail business and yet it had fallen behind the competition in a category screaming out for innovation and increasingly under pressure of disruption from the likes of Uber Eats et al.

Our challenge was to help develop a pipeline of category-changing ready-meals and a full go-to-market strategy that would rejuvenate McCain – and the category’s – offer.


The key to unlocking sustainable, category-changing growth was to apply a ‘DVF’ prototyping model that married rounds of truly consumer-centric immersion and expert exploration with commercially-robust internal engagement and investigation, alongside brand proposition development.


Going Deep

In-depth ethnographic research embedded the team in the lives of our consumers and helped unlock insights that served as springboards for ideation. 


Exploding the Solution

Cross-functional workshops brought the business together to generate meaningful solutions across the spectrum of opportunities identified.

mccain cooking.png

Food Prototyping In Action

Iterative co-creation rounds with consumers, chefs and internal R&D saw us stretch the limits of what a frozen meal could look like... and land this in the commercial reality of the category.

Our results needed to answer unmet consumer needs in a way that was viable within the frozen distribution channel – yet also stretched operations. The resultant 3-year pipeline of innovation will bring unique, highly DESIRABLE , VIABLE and FEASIBLE offers to a stagnant market.


On the back of this first project 9 idea platforms are currently in development for launch, forming a holistic pipeline that will reorganise the brand centres of gravity for McCain and Healthy Choice.

Five successive projects have seen similar strategic pipelines developed across the McCain category portfolio, poising the business for their next stage of growth in a continually evolving market.

The first product to launch in market, McCain Man Size, hit supermarket shelves in August 2017 - plugging one of the biggest gaps in the current category - a filling, real protein offering for bigger appetites in a sea of portion-controlled convenience meals. Initial projections were outstripped immediately with sales of 6x pre-launch estimates reached within a month.