Me and My Brand: Ross Davison of Rustlers

Ross Davison, Head Of Convenience UK at Kepak, explains why Rustlers is a dominant brand in convenience chillers across the land, and how retailers can saddle up to profit from meal occasion opportunities

Ross Davison

Can you please give an overview of your brand and its current performance? 

Rustlers is a £105m1 Chilled Ready Meals brand which has been dominating the category for over 20 years. Launched back in 1999, the Quarter Pounder remains Rustlers’ No.1 product worth over £7m within the Impulse Channel1 and is one of the brand’s “Core4” products – alongside the All Day Breakfast Muffin, Southern Fried Chicken Sub and BBQ Rib.

Leveraging the key consumption occasions of breakfast and lunch, where Forecourts and Convenience overtrade, Rustlers’ Core4 range includes a range of proteins, catering to a broad mix of shoppers for take-home consumption.

In a category dominated by own label, and despite record sales in 2020, the brand continues to see six per cent growth vs the same period in 20191 and is worth in excess of £105m, selling two Rustlers every second in the UK1.

How is the Chilled Ready Meals market currently performing? 

The Chilled Ready Meals category holds a major presence in the chiller of convenience stores across the UK, meeting demand for hot, tasty and easy meal solutions for every occasion.

With 91.6 per cent of shoppers buying Chilled Ready Meals3 and one in three regularly buying branded options2, chilled ready-meal brands such as Rustlers are helping retailers cater to demand for convenient solutions that cater to Food to Go (eat now), Top-up and meal for tonight (eat later) missions.

How important are independent retailers to your brand and how are you supporting them?  

The Rustlers Core range of best-selling products is worth over £11.8m in the convenience channel1 highlighting the importance of independent retailers in our success.

Alongside our Core must-stock range, we continue to evolve the Rustlers offering, adding new products which enable retailers to capitalise on trends. For example, retailers can profit from the 11 per cent growth of the morning goods market with the launch of Rustlers All Day Breakfast Pancakes which rolled out this summer.

We have also just added the Rustlers Classic Hotdog to our PMP range, enabling independent retailers to offer shoppers reassurance of value at a time of price sensitivity and low confidence in spending.

With food to go expected to grow by +9.9 per cent in 20234, we’re confident our range of bestselling products will fulfil shopper requirements.

To offer more choice and variety, we also offer a range of Rustlers “Cook in Box” products specifically designed to enable retailers to offer a convenient hot eat option to satisfying food to go shoppers. Together with our range of food to go equipment solutions, we’re proud to support independent retailers with a low cost, small footprint entry into creating a hot food-to-go offer in store.

We also offer advice and practical support to Rustlers retailers on areas including merchandising, recommended ranges and food-to-go solutions though our network of Rustlers reps and our dedicated trade website – which also hosts free POS downloads and tailored planograms.

What trends are occurring in the sector?  

Breakfast is a staple occasion seeing long-term growth5, with consumption dominated by a small number of core products. Performance of the category is in part driven by morning goods, including breakfast pastries, bagels and pancakes – which alone are experiencing 23 per cent growth6. Rustlers has recently expanded its breakfast offering in the convenience channel with the introduction of an All Day Breakfast Pancake Stack.

A topic on everyone’s minds, and what we envision will be a long-term trend impacting every sector, is the cost of living. At a time of low confidence in spending, the price sensitivity shown by shoppers is set to continue with PMP seeing an uplift, strengthened by the clear price messaging on pack. Our research reveals that 46 per cent of shoppers are now buying PMP products as inflation rises7.

For many, the stigma once associated with finding a bargain is waning and consumers are prepared to adapt their habitual shopping habits to seek savings. Rustlers offers value for money at accessible price points, helping to attract new customers and encouraging repeat purchase from brand loyalists and impulse shoppers.

Describe your brand in three words …

Quality, convenient, value.



1 Nielsen Micro-Snacking Total Market, 52we 6th August 2022

2 Nielsen 52we 25-Dec-2021

3 Kantar WPO Category Tracking Gold, 52we 7th August 2022

4 IGD UK Food to Go Market Report 2022- 2027, July 2022

5 Kantar Usage Panel Data / Total IH+CO / 52 w/e May 2021

6 Kantar Usage Panel Data / Total IH+CO Breakfast, Morning Goods Sub Categories at Breakfast / 52 w/e May 2021.

7 Lumina Intelligence, Convenience Tracking Programme, 12 WE 03.04.22 and 26.06.22