Prepared Meals - UK - May 2013
“According to exclusive research for this report, two fifths of ready meal users do not plan to change their purchasing habits in the wake of the horse meat adulteration scandal. For the frozen ready meals segment, however, there has been a marked effect for implicated brands, while one in ten ready meal buyers plan to avoid frozen ready meals as a result. More pertinently for the long-term future of the wider sector, the scandal is likely to ingrain current scepticism of prepared meals’ content and further alienate lucrative (and growing) user groups such as over-55s and ABs.”
– Amy Price, Senior Food & Drink Analyst
Some questions answered in this report include:
- What is the impact of the horse meat adulteration scandal?
- How can the industry overcome the health barrier facing prepared meals?
- How can the market provide a convenient solution to home cooking?
- What NPD opportunities are there for ethnic meals?
Prepared meals continue to enjoy high levels of popularity, with three in four consumers having bought into the category. Sales are estimated to reach £3.8 billion in 2012, with the market forecast to grow by 28.4% to a total of £4.9 billion in 2017.
The category benefits from its positioning as a convenient and relatively affordable meal solution, particularly appealing to consumers when they are pressed for time. Usage is skewed towards 25-34s, who are more likely to rate convenience highly.
The horse meat scandal has had a negative effect on some of the brands implicated in the scare, although a sizeable minority of consumers say that it will have no effect on their behaviour. The scandal is, however, likely to fuel current scepticism of prepared meals’ quality and further distance lucrative (and growing) user groups such as the over-55s and ABs.
Continuing investment in NPD and above-the-line support from own-label and branded players such as M&S, Heinz and Old El Paso will play a key role in keeping the category front of mind with the consumer going forward, while an emphasis on transparency will help to mitigate concerns over sourcing.
Prepared meals include meals where all the preparation has been done by the manufacturer and the meal just requires heating or cooking by conventional or microwave oven, crock pot, wok, etc. It includes:
- Complete meals, which need no additional ingredients to be supplied by the consumer. Spaghetti Bolognese and curry with rice are typical examples of this category. Includes frozen, chilled and ambient ready meals.
- Ready-to-cook foods, which are further-prepared/flavoured chilled foods specifically positioned on a platform of needing no further preparation on the part of the consumer other than opening the packet and cooking the product according to the on-pack instructions. The major multiples have developed their own specific sub-branded ranges of such foods with a view to assisting consumer selection at the fixture, such as the Sainsbury’s
- Just Cook range, Asda’s Go Cook! range and Marks & Spencer’s Cook! range. It should be noted that some sectors of the trade use the terms ‘part prepared’ or ‘partially prepared foods’ – both terms are deemed to refer to ready-to-cook foods as defined for the purpose of this report.
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