Despite the relentless drive towards convenience, most Australians still prefer to eat home-cooked meals, says new research.
Global research company the NPD Group did a pilot study on home-prepared meals. It found that nine in ten respondents have a home-prepared meal made from store-bought ingredients within a four-week period. In fact, on any given day, three in four of surveyed Aussies said they have a home-cooked meal.
Fresh over frozen
Consumers now face a huge range of convenience options. These include frozen products, ready-to-eat meals, ready-to-heat meals, meal kits and meal plans.
Yet, according to NPD Group, there’s still a “high purchasing drive” for fresh over frozen meals. Leading this drive are millennials. In fact, they account for almost a third (30 per cent) of all home-prepared meals with fresh and store-bought ingredients.
“Today, convenience, health and the search for quality, local ingredients are all entwined,” Executive Director, Foodservice, at The NPD Group Ciara Clancy said. “Many options have launched in the market to suit the time-strapped consumer.
“However, while our data reveals that millennials are driving the meal-kit and meal-plan trend, their impact is still low when compared to consumers choosing to prepare meals from start to finish, using fresh ingredients purchased in store.”
Healthy gap in the market
Ms Clancy admits NPD’s findings were surprising, given the prevailing opinion that consumers are moving away from fresh towards convenience. But she also says consumer resistance to convenience food at home is a “huge opportunity” for retailers.
“There’s a gap in the market,” she said. “The needs of convenience-driven consumers are not being satisfied when it comes to eating at home. We expected to see a much higher consumption of frozen and ready-to-eat/heat meals.
“It could be that meal kits and meal plans are expensive compared with buying individual ingredients yourself. But frozen meals tend to be cheaper, so what is stopping households buying them?
“Is it that they don’t meet Australians’ high taste expectations? Or is there a stigma attached to frozen food, whereby people believe they’re unhealthy? Whatever it is, manufacturers need to take note, as there is a huge opportunity here to fill the gap.”