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Time-saving culinary option for busy people

THE meals-ready-to-eat craze has hit Perth with a vengeance, driven largely by the growing number of time-poor, cash-rich executives.

Even eateries such as the Loose Box and Lamonts have jumped into the market. In fact, the Loose Box closed down last year to concentrate on the MRE market.

Major retailers such as David Jones and Myer have turned the MRE concept to their advantage in Sydney and Melbourne.

Indeed, David Jones is bringing its famous food hall to Perth as part of its $100 million redevelopment of Aherns, something sure to be a boon for CBD workers.

Most executives are finding they don’t have enough time to cook for themselves, so fast-food, eating out, or buying prepared meals that just require reheating provide sustenance.

And with growing numbers of dual-income families, the prevalence of traditional gender roles is fast fading.

Fast food also provides an option. Western Australians have embraced the fast food culture more enthusiastically than most. In fact Australia’s largest fast food chain, Red Rooster, started here.

But the fast food fascination has not done anything to dent the growth of MREs.

Many feel this is because people think the MREs are better for them than fast food. However, the MREs are really just take-

aways that need heating.

Developments such as the East Perth Redevelopment have taken this into account. Many of the homes built there have small kitchens. The designers of the redevelopment, which turned disused industrial land into housing, believed the typical residents would be people who would do little cooking at home.

Claremont Fresh Provisions store manager Sean Offer thinks MREs are the biggest growth area in retail Australia-wide.

“Even in Europe, MREs are a big trend,” Mr Offer said.

“It’s an area we’re certainly putting a lot of focus into.

“We get about a 30 per cent to 35 per cent growth in the area each year. It’s about the same for both our Claremont and Mt Lawley stores.

“By the same token, sales of the frozen ‘TV-style’ dinners are not growing.”

Mr Offer said the market slowed in summer and picked up through the colder months.

Herdsman Fresh Essentials owner Dennis Cerinich said that, while his outlet had been selling MREs for just the past six weeks, the initial trend was very encouraging.

“Some suppliers through us have improved their turnover by around 200 per cent,” Mr Cerinich said.

He said shopping times were changing too.

Lately, the last two to three hours leading up to the shop’s 8pm closing time have been the busiest.

Before it took the step into MREs, the shop used to sell a lot of pre cut and packaged fruit and vegetables – things such as stir fry packs, pre-cut rockmelons and salads. It also boasts a butcher offering marinated meats.

Mr Cerinich said this approach had proved popular with shoppers because it took a lot of the hassle out of cooking.

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