In recent years, ready meals have become extremely popular due to rapid urbanisation, higher employment rates and busier lifestyles. Despite Covid-19 and its ongoing impact on consumer trends, demand for ready meals in supermarkets has not slowed.
“People continue to search for healthier alternatives to junk food and a cheaper substitute for ordering restaurant food, without the hassle of cooking and preparing their own food,” Patties Foods General Manager of Marketing and Innovation Anand Surujpal says.
Today’s shopper is spoilt for choice, with ready meal options available throughout the store, whether frozen, chilled or served hot from the deli.
McCain Foods ANZ Marketing Manager Karen Marshall says Covid had a significant impact on the frozen meals category as consumers habits shifted towards working from home.
“The healthy meals segment has suffered as consumers have reached for comfort meals,” she says.
Increased anxiety among many shoppers is resulting in less time spent in-store, which presents challenges for category browsing and NPD discovery, she adds.
Delivery services, whether from restaurants or meal-kit providers, have also changed consumers’ experience of convenient meals.
“It’s a choose-your-own-food adventure, all readily available at the touch of your fingertips,” says Berger Ingredients founder and CEO Diem Fuggersberger.
“You can have your meals delivered to your home or work ready to eat, or [you can have] the experience of re-creating your favourite dish in easy steps from your own kitchen. However, this convenience comes with added service fees, delivery fees and mark-ups, which means for many it’s still considered to be a luxury or a treat, and not something people can afford to go to every day.”
Cale & Daughters co-founder Cale Drouin says meal delivery services have magnified competition in the ready meals space.
“While competition has increased, the pool of customers has decreased due to prolonged lockdown restrictions, and with people having less need for convenience-based meals,” he says. “To cope with competition, store-bought ready meals need to be more appealing than ever before.”
Read more about trends and developments in the Ready Meal category in the latest issue of Retail World.