RICHMOND, Va. — Ukrop's Super Markets here has introduced “Ukrop's Bakes,” a new line of oven-ready entrees, side dishes and desserts designed with family meals in mind.
Currently, the new line includes seven entrees, such as sauteed summer squash, baked manicotti and chicken cobbler, as well as desserts such as peach blueberry crisp. All of the items are merchandised in oven-ready, reusable aluminum containers with resealable, snap-on lids, designed so that customers do not have to use any pots or pans to prepare the items, or any separate containers to store leftovers.
“They are in a larger serving size, which is conducive to family meals or to single people or two-person households with leftovers,” Julie Bishop, Ukrop's manager of culinary and wellness trends, said, explaining the differences between the new products and Ukrop's already large and varied selection of prepared foods.
“The crux of this line is that we recommend they go in the oven. They can be done in the microwave or placed on a grill, but they come out best when they're prepared in an oven.”
The entrees can feed a family of four to six for about $2 to $2.20 per person, but Bishop noted that the products weren't designed with the focus exclusively on the price point.
“Two dollars per person for an entree is a great value, especially for the quality of the food — it's freshly prepared, it's high-quality ingredients,” with no fillers or preservatives, she explained. For shoppers that might have been considering takeout, “this is a nice option — a home-cooked meal, very little cleanup, and a per-person price point that's very good.”
Ukrop's this year is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its prepared-food program and its Central Kitchen commissary, and Bishop said the company's ongoing success in foodservice was led, in part, by the recognition that customers are looking for a variety of meal solutions when they come to Ukrop's.
“I think we're meeting customer needs from one end of the spectrum to the other,” she explained. “You can grab a single-serve of one of our traditional chilled foods and heat it in a microwave. We now have [Ukrop's Bakes], a more family-friendly option where you just need one, not two or three packages.
“We also have instituted during the past several months our midweek meal deals. That's focused a little more the ready-to-go stuff. Hot pizza, hot rotisserie chicken, hot fried chicken. Just offering people a good price and a free 2-liter [soft-drink]. Maintaining that business is about making sure you have options in all of the categories within prepared foods.”