Woolies ‘grab and go’ beef roast tackles market segment dominated by 100 million chickens

Jon Condon, 03/06/2016
Woolies new grab-and-go cooked roast beef and corned beef in a Brisbane outlet this week.

Woolies new grab-and-go cooked roast beef and corned beef in a Brisbane outlet this week.


FOR years, busy home-makers looking for a last-minute dinner protein item at the end of a long day have resorted to the pre-cooked ‘grab-and-go’ chickens in a bag, displayed in hot cabinets in all major supermarkets.

As of this week, Woolworths has introduced a beef equivalent, leveraging off new packaging technologies that allow a juicy and tasty beef roast to be cooked in-store and offered in convenient form for customers to pick-up on their way home.

Woolworths national deli merchandise manager, Roger Steele, said the new product would be progressively rolled-out across Australia, eventually appearing in about 900 of Woolworths 960 stores across the nation.

Queensland stores are already stocking the product (see image), while NSW stores will begin service next week, and other states will follow through to early July.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity to launch a red meat equivalent in this segment – provided we could get the right product, the right weight, right price and right packaging option,” Mr Steele said.

“Our consumer research indicated that there was a real market for it, and together with our project partner, Teys Australia Food Solutions, we’ve done an enormous amount of work to bring it to market. Teys is to be congratulated on delivering us the product that they have, and we are confident it will find strong acceptance among customers.”

Talks started on the project early last year, and it had taken Teys Food Solutions about 15 months to refine the product to Woolworths’ requirements, and bring it to market.

“There can be a fair cost involved if you don’t get it right, so we wanted to make sure it ticked all of the consumer boxes,” Mr Steele said.

Given the sheer size of the cooked chicken market, Woolworths has set an ambitious target to achieve 5pc of the ‘grab-and-go’ cooked chicken segment in the first phase.

Part of the secret to the new product’s launch is the use of a new high-temperature compatible ‘inner’ bag, in which the beef roast is cooked in in-store combi-ovens, before being inserted into the ‘outer’ carry-home bag.

“We’re extremely pleased with the product we’ve been able to bring to market. It eats really well – it’s tender, juicy and flavourful, everything a customer is looking for in a roast, without the fuss,” Mr Steele said. “And it’s certainly not dry, which is always a danger in this space.”

The new Woolworths pre-cooked beef options come in two forms – traditional roast beef, produced from the outside flat muscle, and hot corned beef, ready to slice and serve. Both are around 750grams in weight, providing ample servings for four. They are sold on a unit price of $13 each.

Sharply priced chickens make it a tough time for launch

At the time the bagged beef roast concept was being developed, Woolworths’ existing grab-and-go cooked chickens were selling for around $11 each. But coinciding with the launch of the new product, both major national supermarket groups have gone down a discounting strategy on cooked chickens, currently selling for just $7.90 each.

It was feared that this might make it difficult for the new roast/corned beef offer to gain traction in the market segment.

“Our early findings are very strong, despite the price differential,” Mr Steele said. “Both roast and corned beef sales are very encouraging.”

He said Woolworths would begin a marketing/awareness process for the new product, once it was fully rolled-out across the country.

A specific training process has been developed in conjunction with Teys for in-store deli staff handling, cooking and displaying the product.

“Training sessions are rolling-out in each state to make sure our teams know how to handle it as they should, and deliver the very best product possible.”

The product goes straight into the Woolworths distribution network in chilled form from the Teys Food Solutions’ Brisbane facility, for distribution into the national store network.

“With the moves to whole carcase utilisation, this product is providing an ideal way to value-add a muscle like the outside flat, which is perfectly suited to this process,” Mr Steele said.

“It’s an opportunity for us, and Teys.”

“By mid-July, we’ll have it in stores around Australia, and from there, we will focus on accelerating sales through promotion and awareness.”

At this stage, both the roast and corned beef products carry a Teys brand identity, the Cedric Walter brand, honouring one of the company’s founders.

“The Cedric Walter range offers traditional, convenient beef solutions that provide everyday Australian families with affordable, wholesome, quality options that are easy to prepare and taste great, said Teys Australia Food Solutions commercial lead, Rata Shuttleworth.

“To ensure that Teys can deliver consumer-facing solutions to Woolworths, we have invested in the development of best-in-class category management, consumer insights and store-level operational expertise,” Mr Shuttleworth said.

“These capabilities have enabled Teys to design this product in line with consumer expectations and deliver store-level execution with Woolworths.”

100 million BBQ chickens each year spells opportunity

Meat & Livestock Australia, via the MLA Donor Company, funded development research with Teys and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation with the aim of discovering new opportunities for red meat in supermarkets.

“With more than 100 million barbecue chickens sold by Australian supermarkets annually, and another 24 million moved through takeaway outlets, we knew this was a huge opportunity for the red meat industry,” MLA Donor Company chief executive Christine Pitt said.

“The aim of the project was to identify how to create a value added product capable of capturing a share of the large protein market by utilising existing systems, market pathways and in-store infrastructure. The research involved consumer surveys, exploration of non-chicken protein offerings in these markets globally and an examination of current cooking, heating and handling system capacity in supermarkets and takeaway outlets.

“This is one of many exciting projects that are part of MLA’s Insights to Innovation program, taking insights from the market to understand future consumer attitudes and behaviour. The more we build demand for red meat the greater the opportunities for capturing value for all participants in the supply chain,” Dr Pitt said.


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  1. Harry, 03/11/2023

    Why aren’t your Victorian stores cooking Roast Beef

  2. vil cambata, 22/02/2022

    Hello – We buy free range bbq chickens and ready cooked roast beef and ham, etc, from your deli, What I would like to know is if the plastic bags they are cooked in are safe from any nasties. such as gases that these bags may produce and also any other elements or chemicals released during heating and cooking, causing cancer, etc which may be harmful to our health. I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks – VIL

  3. allan cannane, 10/12/2020

    I ordered and purchased 2 loins of pork from the coolangatta .These were cooked for take home and were just great and the price also was great .I live at kempsey bought a corned beef yesterday cooked a wonderful idea. Allan Cannane

  4. Louise Cotton, 21/05/2020

    Want roast beef when available from Woolworths Please

  5. Melita, 01/10/2019

    Bought the roast beef last week and enjoyed it. Hubby tho was, as usual commented it was dry. But I made gravy so to me it was value for money.

  6. Colleen Hudson, 18/06/2019

    I love your cooked Roast Beef cooked so easy to have a roast congratulations for doing this makes my life easier & i always shop at Woolworths
    & also your lamb shanks are delicious
    Thanks Colleen Hudson

  7. John Davis, 04/06/2019

    I have tried the beef roast and can confirm that it’s all Wollies says it is and more. I was amazed how juicy and tender it was and it makes a great change from roast chickens. The price differential for what you get is fair and I don’t mind paying for quality which this product is. My only criticism is they are hard to get (I’m in Darwin) which may be due to the staged roll out in stores as described by Wollies or they are just being snapped up quickly with demand outstripping supply. In any event I hope the project is a success and if not please send me the recipe !

  8. Frank rossato, 23/04/2018

    I need to reheat roast lamb bought this morning. What is best oven or microwave and do I leave it in the inner plastic bag

  9. Jason McAdam, 12/02/2018

    I love the meat balls they are fantastic. Where can i buy the tomato sauce that comes with the meatballs, kids love them.

  10. Averil Read, 31/01/2018

    I need to reheat roast lamb bought this morning . What is the best method oven or microwave and do I leave it in the inner plastic bag?

  11. Averil Read, 06/01/2018

    How do I reheat the roast lamb I bought this morning? Oven , microwave ? In plastic bag or in alfoil?

  12. meegan ryan, 12/12/2017

    Brilliant idea !!!! We three adults at home LOVE the roast lamb, feeds the 3 of us and leftovers for lunches days after. Very tasty and so easy to eat.

  13. Shirley Stacey, 06/12/2017

    Recently bought the Roast Beef and found it to be quite tasty. Very reasonably priced and left overs were still tasty for sandwiches the next day – Thumbs up Woolies

  14. Nancy white, 26/08/2017

    I love it, and it’s on special this week. Can I freeze a couple ?

  15. Christl Wulff, 01/08/2017

    I tried lamb and pork, both very satisfactory. As I had half of the meat left over from the day before I gently warmed up the slices in leftover sauce after taking it off the heatsource. A second delicios meal!

  16. Sandra gaul, 18/07/2017

    This is such an awesome idea I think the chickens are great but you don’t always want chicken i also hope you move to other options like pork

  17. dawn roles, 07/07/2017

    I only came across this product last week. I have tried both the lamb and the corned beef at Woolworths in Floreat WA. They were both excellent products and have told many people about them. Since I work in the Aged care industry I have started buying this for the “oldies” who love to eat a traditional roast.

  18. kim O'Connor, 17/06/2017

    Why does it say on the roast beef packaging do not re heat? Surely it would be safe to do so if the product has only been cooked once like you say.

  19. Wandalee O,Shea, 04/05/2017

    I have tried the product, and was favorably surprised with the product. However, I do think I’ll wait for some further testing on the method of cooking before I make it a regular on my shopping list. Just because someone says it’s OK doesn’t necessarily make it so… SHOW ME!!

  20. Kevin Maher, 06/04/2017

    Purchased the roast beef at Tuncurry Woolies and loved it., but have subsequently bought 2 from Woolies at Cherrybrook NSW., and they have definitely been a corned (version of ) Beef.. I’m not really happy about buying a product that is Labelled …, as an Orange, & it turns out to be a Lemon.!!!

  21. Jay Fitzgerald, 30/03/2017

    I just bought my fourth lamb roast and have had the beef a few times. So tender and delicious and will definately buy when they are available at my local Woolies as they are often hard to come by.

  22. Leanne Beinke, 17/02/2017

    Have tried both roast beef and corned beef and found them tender but very salty, just wondering are they salted and left for a while to let salt soak in before cooking and also are plastic bags BPA free?

  23. Perry Hunt, 17/01/2017

    Tried the roast beef,corned beef and the roast lamb from Woolworths in Collie WA .. . .all good .. . . Mostly eat it cold the next day as a sandwich being on my own.

  24. Sharon Jenkins, 20/12/2016

    What is the recommended reheating process? I have ordered a couple for Christmas and want to ensure they are still moist and delicious!

    Thanks for your comment, Sharon. We’d suggest the ‘Grab and Go’ beef roasts are best consumed on day of purchase – that is the whole point of the product. Cold storage in your frig for re-heating on Christmas day would not be a good idea, in our opinion, for quality reasons. Editor.

  25. Gai Johnson, 11/12/2016

    Would like them supplied to woollies Lake haven NSW 2263

  26. Adrian Hallam, 06/12/2016

    Hi, are they gluten-free, please?

    We can confirm they are gluten free, Adrian. Editor.

  27. Justin brown, 03/12/2016

    Good eat and good option. Just shame that when i got a fresh one bagged as it come from the oven the time on the bag said 1430. It was still only 1315!

  28. Otzi Izto, 18/11/2016

    Lots of comments on Beef. I’ll put a plug for Corned Beef. Better than good, for me. High on flavour and tender. Looks not so hot but when sandwidged and or sliced and plated it’s as good as I can do. I find my home cooked Corned beefs to be prettier but considerably less taste throughout. I wish I could get the recipe.

  29. Stephen Turner, 23/09/2016

    Tried it for the first time from Woolworths in Bendigo ( They were out of chickens) To my surprise, it was the best, most succulent piece of beef I have ever had. I was glad that they were out of chickens otherwise I may never have tried it. I am converted!

  30. Yan Mashov, 18/09/2016

    Great idea and perfect execution !
    We produce ovenable films and are able to supply FLEXO printed films or/and pouches for this concept.

    By using OVENABLE pouches you solve the problem in case that you need the option for re-heating the meal without bag opening, without loosing of moisture or taste.

  31. peter marks, 18/08/2016

    that’s not right, mate. I went into woolworths to bye a hot chicken in Kelmscott in wa. and decided to have the hot roast beef instead and when I got home to share my new dinner plans with the family not happy jan . it was corned a hot roast beef bag. question to you, do you actually sell hot roast beef. And this bugs me as well. I have asked red rooster in Kelmscott to maybe add roast turkey to their menu at Christmas time. it just falls on deaf ears every year. if any one thinks the same maybe we can be business partners and sell real food that’s healthy, I don’t mind paying for healthy good food. I am tired of the big chains telling us what we eat by making it a special for that week, its possibly these specials have been in there fridges for 6 months. I hope my comments don’t fall on deaf ears and no disrespect to the later. Go the Aussies in Rio,cheers

  32. Maria, 05/08/2016

    this is fantastic. I hope it will still be around for Christmas time. you can buy 3 ready made meats for such a low price. I have brought both the meats and they were so tasty so fresh so soft to eat. it was delish.
    I can now have a roast dinner in no time Thank you I hope this stays around. love it.

  33. Robert smith, 22/07/2016

    We bought the roast beef version from Woolworthshe 21 July.
    If that is roast beef then forget it. Tender yes, tasteless yes. More like boiled beef.
    Not for me sorry Woolies.

  34. John Goven, 17/07/2016

    I bought the roast beef version in Lane Cove woolies on 16 july and wonder if they have put a corned beef joint in the roast beef bag. I was just about edible but bore no resemblance to home-cooker roast beef.
    I will not be buying this poor offering again.

  35. Jason burnard, 13/06/2016

    Yes, about time Woolies, Coles have been doing the primo roast beef for years.
    Better late than never,
    Hope this one is just as good!!!

  36. Martin Smith, 06/06/2016

    Before we get to happy about this,
    We need to consider the damaging power that mayor supermarkets have and the war on prices they are currently going through.
    It’s already putting a lot of pressure on dairy producers with the $1 liter of milk, likewise with the $8 roasted chicken.
    So lets keep an eye out for future developments on this story!

  37. Sharon Stewart, 06/06/2016

    Not only a fantastic idea but great tasting as well, I have now purchased the roast beef on two occasions and have been very satisfied both times.

    Well Done

  38. Chris Sweeney, 05/06/2016

    Great move .All we need now is to follow with Lamb

  39. Andrew Niemeyer, 04/06/2016

    It’s a good idea but there seems to be a lack of consumer info on these packs. Is this grass fed beef, or grain fed beef.? Cooking in plastic bags is highly suspect due to the chemicals released during the heating and cooking process.

    Thanks for your comment, Andrew. The packs make no reference to grass or grain feeding, but do carry the Livestock Welfare Certified logo (See earlier article here).

    Regards your ‘cooking in plastic bags’ comment, a key part of the new packaging technology is the use of a new material that can withstand extremely high cooking temperatures, without any risk of contamination. It is certainly far-removed from being cooked in a ‘plastic bag’ in the generic sense. Editor

  40. Graham Moore, 04/06/2016

    The roast beef and also a roast pork have been available in many IGA supermarkets in QLD for 18mths or possibly longer. I have had a few of them, They are exactly the same, cooked in a bag and packaged in an outer bag. Produced by Primo I believe.

  41. Wirrillah P/s, 03/06/2016

    Fantastic idea. Let’s all get behind it and help our amazing all Australian beef cattle producers.

  42. Natasha Woolaston, 03/06/2016

    This is something that many households have been after for years now, about time! Congratulations for finally making the step!!!

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