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Prepared Meals - US - May 2016

"Sales of prepared meals turned slightly positive in 2015 after three consecutive years of declines, but remain below their 2010 level, weak results in line with a broader move away from more processed foods in favor of fresher and healthier alternatives. Still, the category’s defining convenience benefit remains compelling, and there is considerable opportunity for brands offering products made from natural ingredients and highlighting specific health benefits. Greater cuisine variety and packaging geared to snacking occasions could help to boost consumption, especially among young adults."
- John Owen, Senior Food & Drink Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • Category sales turn positive but remain weak
  • Consumers cutting back outnumber those eating more
  • Convenience is foundation, but growth could come from other areas

For the purposes of this Report, prepared meals are defined as complete meals or entrées that are precooked and frozen or refrigerated. These meals usually include a side dish and require minimal preparation or cooking time.

Side dishes are defined in this Report as products intended to be used alongside an entrée or meal center. These items can be frozen or refrigerated. Please note that while the industry has a clear definition of side dishes, the demarcation is not so clear to the consumer, who may well use specific side dishes as a meal or a snack.

The primary segments include the following:

  • Single-serve frozen meals
  • Multiserve frozen meals
  • Refrigerated meals
  • Frozen side dishes
  • Refrigerated side dishes (including refrigerated side dishes that are sold in meat and deli cases and require only microwaving), and refrigerated salads

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Category sales turn positive but remain weak
            • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of prepared meals, at current prices, 2010-20
          • Consumers cutting back outnumber those eating more
            • Figure 2: Prepared meals consumption, February 2016
          • Convenience is foundation, but growth could come from other areas
            • Figure 3: Reasons for eating prepared meals, February 2016
          • The opportunities
            • For parents, keep it natural, make it easy
              • Figure 4: Desired features, by number of children younger than 18 in household, February 2016
            • Wide range of specific health priorities creates targeted opportunities
              • Figure 5: Importance of health attributes, February 2016
            • Variety, snacking, customization key to connecting with young adults
              • Figure 6: Attitudes toward prepared meals, any agree, by age, February 2016
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Category sales turn positive but remain weak
                • Growth in side dishes partially offsets declines in frozen meals
                  • Increasing interest in cooking could spell trouble for prepared meals
                    • Meal kit delivery represents competition for premium prepared meals
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • Category sales turn positive but remain weak
                        • Figure 7: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of prepared meals, at current prices, 2010-20
                        • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of prepared meals, at current prices, 2010-20
                    • Market Breakdown

                      • Growth in side dishes partially offsets declines in frozen meals
                        • Refrigerated meal sales level off after recent gains
                          • Figure 9: Share of prepared meals, by segment, 2013 and 2015
                        • Frozen meals decline while sides gain strength
                          • Figure 10: Sales of prepared meals, by segment, 2010-15
                      • Market Factors

                        • Increasing interest in cooking could spell trouble for prepared meals
                          • Figure 11: Attitudes/opinions about food, any agree, May 2006-June 2015
                        • Prepared meal consumption resonates among households with children
                          • Figure 12: US households, by presence of own children, 2003-13
                        • Hispanics, particularly Millennials, opt for prepared meals/sides
                          • Figure 13: US population by race and Hispanic origin, 2009, 2014, and 2019
                      • Market Perspective

                        • Meal kit delivery represents competition for premium prepared meals
                          • A widening array of meal-kit options
                            • Leveraging prepared-meal advantages
                            • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                              • Nestle and ConAgra lead category but leave ample room for others
                                • Catering to specific dietary needs
                                  • Value position may hold less appeal as people look to eat better
                                  • Manufacturer Sales of Prepared Meals

                                    • Nestle and ConAgra lead category but leave ample room for others
                                      • Pinnacle Foods gains with Birds Eye
                                        • Private label on the rise, but presence varies widely by segment
                                          • Manufacturer sales of prepared meals
                                            • Figure 14: Manufacturer sales of prepared meals, 2015 and 2016
                                        • What’s Working?

                                          • Catering to specific dietary needs
                                            • New cuisine exploration
                                            • What’s Struggling?

                                              • Dieting brands struggle to redefine themselves amid changing attitudes
                                                • Figure 15: Lean Cuisine #WeightThis video, 2016
                                              • Growth stalls for refrigerated meals
                                                • Value position may hold less appeal as people look to eat better
                                                • What’s Next?

                                                  • Bridging the gap between prepared meals and meal kits
                                                    • “Snackification” of meals
                                                    • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                      • Consumers cutting back outnumber those eating more
                                                        • Convenience is foundation, but growth may come from other areas
                                                          • Dinner still the top use occasion, but snacks could be path to growth
                                                            • A push for all natural ingredients
                                                              • Wide range of specific health priorities creates targeted opportunities
                                                                • More nutrition information, less processing
                                                                • Changes in Prepared Meals Consumption

                                                                  • Consumers cutting back outnumber those eating more
                                                                    • Figure 16: Prepared meals consumption, February 2016
                                                                  • Younger men more likely to be increasing consumption
                                                                    • Figure 17: Consumption of frozen meals that serve one, by gender and age, February 2016
                                                                  • Higher-income consumers increasing consumption
                                                                    • Figure 18: Consumption of frozen meals that serve one, by household income, February 2016
                                                                  • Consumption increases with number of children in home
                                                                    • Figure 19: Consumption of frozen meals that serve one, by number of children younger than 18 in household, February 2016
                                                                  • Hispanic consumers likely to be increasing prepared meal consumption
                                                                    • Figure 20: Consumption of frozen meals that serve one, by race/Hispanic origin, February 2016
                                                                • Reasons for Eating Prepared Meals

                                                                  • Convenience is foundation, but growth could come from other areas
                                                                    • Figure 21: Reasons for eating prepared meals, February 2016
                                                                  • Taste and variety could drive increases in consumption
                                                                    • Figure 22: Reasons for eating prepared meals, by consumption of frozen meals that serve one, February 2016
                                                                  • For younger men, it’s all about taste
                                                                    • Figure 23: Reasons for eating prepared meals, by gender and age, February 2016
                                                                • When Prepared Meals are Eaten

                                                                  • Dinner still the top use occasion, but snacks could be path to growth
                                                                    • Figure 24: When prepared meals are eaten, February 2016
                                                                  • Young men more likely to snack on prepared meals
                                                                    • Figure 25: When prepared meals are eaten, by gender and age, February 2016
                                                                • Desired Features

                                                                  • A push for all natural ingredients
                                                                    • Figure 26: Desired features, February 2016
                                                                  • Natural ingredients especially important young adults
                                                                    • Figure 27: Desired features, by gender and age, February 2016
                                                                  • For parents, keep it natural, make it easy
                                                                    • Figure 28: Desired features, by number of children younger than 18 in household, February 2016
                                                                • Importance of Health Attributes

                                                                  • Wide range of specific health priorities creates targeted opportunities
                                                                    • Figure 29: Importance of health attributes, February 2016
                                                                  • Traditional low/no claims most appealing to older adults
                                                                    • Young adults more likely to focus on added nutrition
                                                                      • Figure 30: Importance of health attributes, by age, February 2016
                                                                  • Attitudes toward Prepared Meals

                                                                    • More nutrition information, less processing
                                                                      • Store brand opportunity
                                                                        • Figure 31: Attitudes toward prepared meals, any agree, February 2016
                                                                      • Variety, snacking, customization key to connecting with young adults
                                                                        • Figure 32: Attitudes toward prepared meals, any agree, by age, February 2016
                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                        • Sales data
                                                                          • Fan chart forecast
                                                                            • Consumer survey data
                                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                  • Terms
                                                                                  • Appendix – Market

                                                                                      • Figure 33: Total US sales and forecast of prepared meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20
                                                                                      • Figure 34: Total US retail sales of prepared meals, by segment, at current prices, 2013 and 2015
                                                                                      • Figure 35: Total US sales and forecast of single-serve frozen meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20
                                                                                      • Figure 36: Total US sales and forecast of multiserve frozen meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20
                                                                                      • Figure 37: Total US sales and forecast of refrigerated meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20
                                                                                      • Figure 38: Total US sales and forecast of frozen side dishes, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20
                                                                                      • Figure 39: Total US sales and forecast of refrigerated side dishes, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20
                                                                                      • Figure 40: Total US retail sales of prepared meals, by channel, at current prices, 2013 and 2015
                                                                                      • Figure 41: US supermarket sales of prepared meals, at current prices, 2010-15
                                                                                  • Appendix – Key Players

                                                                                      • Figure 42: MULO sales of single-serve frozen meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2015 and 2016
                                                                                      • Figure 43: MULO sales of multi-serve frozen meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2015 and 2016
                                                                                      • Figure 44: MULO sales of refrigerated meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2015 and 2016
                                                                                      • Figure 45: MULO sales of frozen side dishes, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2015 and 2016
                                                                                      • Figure 46: MULO sales of refrigerated side dishes, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2015 and 2016

                                                                                  Companies Covered

                                                                                  • Walmart Stores (USA)

                                                                                  Prepared Meals - US - May 2016

                                                                                  £3,199.84 (Excl.Tax)