Tauranga company Frozen Fresh has been chosen by Compass Group to provide Meals on Wheels to recipients in Otago and Southland, replacing airline food company LSG Sky Chefs.
Compass Group has been overhauling its service to the Otago/Southland region, delivered through a contract with the Southern District Health Board. It had been trucking meals to the South Island from Auckland-based LSG Sky Chefs for about a year, with some recipients complaining about the meals.
Compass Group announced on Monday that Frozen Fresh would take over providing the meals from November 28.
"It's a reasonably significant contract," said Frozen Fresh managing director Mike Nixon.
Frozen Fresh has been working with Compass for about three years, but this is its first Meals on Wheels contract. Mr Nixon said other Meals on Wheels contracts were expected to flow from the Otago/Southland one, depending on how the meals were received.
However, the biggest part of Frozen Fresh's business remained its Tomorrow's Meals brand of frozen dinners, which are sold through major retailers.
Frozen Fresh was founded by Mike and Anna Nixon in 2008, who took over Tomorrow's Meals when it was a small business delivering frozen meals to homes. The company phased out home deliveries to focus on retail supply about five years ago.
"We changed the business model so we now predominantly supply Foodstuffs and other independent retailers like Bin Inns," said Mr Nixon.
The business expanded in 2012 when investors/directors Lynley Webb and John Nevill joined. The following year the company built a new facility in Judea to make frozen and chilled convenience meals.
"We're happy to push the fact that Tauranga is a great hub for great food manufacturers," said Ms Webb, who is the company's sales & marketing director.
The business had grown, leveraging the trend for busy people looking for prepared convenience meals, and its frozen meals were now in hundreds of supermarkets throughout New Zealand.
The company's approach to the new Meals on Wheels contract was the same as with all its new meals development, Ms Webb said.
"We source real food ingredients and cook them as you would at home," she said. "We use 100 per cent meat cuts, not processed or pumped meats. Our potato mash is real; we don't pour it out of a bag and then re-hydrate it, and our dairy products are high-quality, not the powdered version."
Compass' national development and innovation manager Lauren Scott said Frozen Fresh had a strong track record and Compass was proud to be partnering with the company.
Ms Webb said the company had worked closely with the dieticians and wider service team at Compass to ensure the meals met the government guidelines for nutrition and quality.
"We recognise that although nutritionals are key, it is also very important that we deliver a meal that tastes great and suits the target audience. The positive reports coming back from last week's customer tastings were very pleasing."
-Based: Judea, Tauranga