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Ready and Prepared Meals - Canada - May 2015

“Perception around the overall quality of ready-to-eat frozen meals is a challenge for the category. When asked, only one quarter of consumers prefer ready-to-eat meals when other options are available indicating efforts around freshness and authenticity are needed to support growth. Turning to category strengths, messaging that promotes ready-to-eat meals as a vehicle for trying new flavours is likely to resonate based on consumer input.”
– Joel Gregoire, Senior Food & Drink Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • Consumers perceive ready-to-eat meals to offer lower quality
  • Dealing with dads (and parents)
  • Over-45s represent a challenge for frozen ready and prepared meals
  • Ready-to-eat meals can be a vehicle for exploring new flavours

Though most Canadian adults ate a frozen meal in the six months to March 2015, only four in ten turned to the category more than once per month, suggesting room to grow frequency. Mintel forecasts volume declines through 2019 to soften compared to the 2009-14 period, though declines in inflation adjusted sales are predicted to accelerate indicating increased price competition in the category.

The category suffers from generally negative consumer perceptions, as two thirds agree that ready-to-eat meals contain too much sodium and that products are overly processed. As such, frozen meals are relegated to being a secondary alternative at dinner with only one quarter of consumers indicating that they prefer to eat ready-to-eat meals to other options.

When asked what they would like to see in frozen meals, the top ask from consumers is fewer preservatives and artificial ingredients. Additionally, half of consumers point to no or fewer artificial ingredients to be among their top factors when choosing a ready-to eat meal, suggesting demand for cleaner ingredient decks and more ‘authentic’ meal options.

This report explores the profile and habits of Canadian ready-to-eat frozen meal consumers; including the frequency with which they eat frozen meals, at what occasions they turn to the category, interest in different options and factors that lead consumers to purchase. This report also examines attitudes towards the category across various demographic groups and identifies opportunities for innovation.

 

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definition
        • Methodology
          • Abbreviations
          • Executive Summary

              • The market
                • Figure 1: Forecast of Canada retail volume sales of ready meals, 2009-19
                • Figure 2: Forecast of Canada retail value sales of ready meals, 2009-19
              • Market drivers
                • Canadian population expected to grow
                  • Canada’s population is aging and will continue to do so in the coming years
                    • Key economic indicators suggest slight increases in food costs in the future, holding true for food sold from both stores and restaurants
                      • The consumer
                        • Nearly nine in ten Canadians use ready and prepared meals
                          • Figure 3: Usage of ready and prepared meals in the past six months, March 2015
                        • Frozen meals are most likely to be eaten at dinner followed by lunch
                          • Figure 4: Occasion for ready-to-eat meal types in the past six months, March 2015
                        • Consumers most interested in cleaner ingredient decks
                          • Figure 5: Interest in ready-to-eat meal types, March 2015
                        • Size matters when choosing frozen meals
                          • Figure 6: Importance of different factors when purchasing ready-to-eat meal (any rank), March 2015
                        • Health and quality perceptions are a challenge for ready-to-eat meals
                          • Figure 7: Ready-to-eat meal purchase attitudes (any rank), March 2015
                        • What we think
                        • Issues and Insights

                            • Consumers perceive ready-to-eat meals to offer lower quality
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • Dealing with dads (and parents)
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                        • Over-45s represent a challenge for frozen ready and prepared meals
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                              • Ready-to-eat meals can be a vehicle for exploring new flavours
                                                • The facts
                                                  • The implications
                                                  • Market Drivers

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • Demographic overview
                                                        • Canadian population expected to grow
                                                          • Figure 8: Share of population of Canada, by territory/province, 2014
                                                        • Canada’s population is aging and will continue to do so in the coming years
                                                          • Figure 9: Population aged 65 years and over in Canada, historical and projected (% of total), 1971-2061
                                                          • Figure 10: Projected trends in the age structure of the Canadian population, 2014-19
                                                        • Over half of Canadians are overweight or obese
                                                          • Figure 11: Body mass index, self-reported rate of being overweight or obese among Canadian adults, by gender, 2009-13
                                                        • Economic overview
                                                          • Consumers’ economy to pick up, but risks remain
                                                            • Figure 12: Household disposable income and savings rate in Canada, Q1 2008-Q1 2014
                                                          • Consumer confidence may waver with falling oil prices
                                                            • Key economic indicators suggest slight increases in food costs in the future, holding true for food sold from both stores and restaurants
                                                              • Figure 13: Monthly movements in selected major components of the Canadian Consumer Price Index, seasonally adjusted, January 2010-July 2014
                                                            • Canada’s employment rates remain steady
                                                              • Figure 14: Canada’s unemployment rate, by gender, January 2008-January 2014
                                                          • Strengths and Weaknesses

                                                            • Strengths
                                                              • Weaknesses
                                                              • Trend Application

                                                                • Trend: Power of One
                                                                  • Trend: Factory Fear
                                                                    • Trend: FSTR HYPR
                                                                    • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                      • Key points
                                                                        • Private label’s share of launches is growing
                                                                          • Figure 15: Percentage of prepared meal launches in Canada, by brand type, 2010-14
                                                                        • Manufactures are promoting convenience and no additives/preservatives
                                                                          • Figure 16: Top claims by prepared meal launches in Canada, 2010-14
                                                                        • Investing in ‘indulgent goodness’
                                                                          • Leveraging popular foodservice brands
                                                                            • Embracing ethnic-inspired meal varieties
                                                                            • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                • Ready meals volume declines to moderate as sales declines accelerate
                                                                                  • Figure 17: Canada retail value and volume sales of ready meals, at current and constant prices, 2009-19
                                                                                  • Figure 18: Forecast of Canada retail volume sales of ready meals, 2009-19
                                                                                  • Figure 19: Forecast of Canada retail value sales of ready meals, 2009-19
                                                                                • Forecast methodology
                                                                                • Companies and Products

                                                                                    • Ready and prepared meals – Overview and innovations
                                                                                      • Bellisio Foods Incorporated
                                                                                        • Overview and product range
                                                                                          • Recent activity and innovation
                                                                                            • ConAgra Foods
                                                                                              • Overview and product range
                                                                                                • Recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                  • Nestlé
                                                                                                    • Overview and product range
                                                                                                      • Recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                        • Pinnacle Foods Inc.
                                                                                                          • Overview and product range
                                                                                                            • Recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                              • President’s Choice
                                                                                                                • Overview and product range
                                                                                                                  • Recent activity and innovation
                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – Usage of Ready and Prepared Meals

                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                      • Nearly nine in ten Canadians use ready and prepared meals
                                                                                                                        • Figure 20: Usage of ready and prepared meals in the past six months, March 2015
                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Frequency of usage of ready and prepared meals in the past six months, March 2015
                                                                                                                      • Canada’s aging population may challenge ready and prepared meals
                                                                                                                        • Figure 22: Usage of any ready and prepared meals in the past six months by age group, March 2015
                                                                                                                      • Young men are core consumers for single- and multi-serve frozen meals
                                                                                                                        • Figure 23: Usage of single-serve frozen meals in the past six months, by gender and age, March 2015
                                                                                                                      • Fathers are more likely to rely on frozen meals
                                                                                                                        • Figure 24: Usage of frozen meals in the past six months, by parental status, March 2015
                                                                                                                    • The Consumer – Occasions

                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                        • Frozen meals are most likely to be eaten at dinner followed by lunch
                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Occasion for ready-to-eat meal types in the past six months, March 2015
                                                                                                                        • Younger adults more likely to eat frozen meals outside of ‘traditional’ meal occasions
                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Occasion for ready-to-eat meal types in the past six months, 18-24-year-old vs overall population, March 2015
                                                                                                                        • Quebec consumers are more likely to eat frozen meals at lunch
                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Occasion for ready-to-eat meal types in the past six months, Quebec versus overall population, March 2015
                                                                                                                        • Household composition influences occasions when frozen meals are eaten
                                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Occasion for ready-to-eat meal types in the past six months; parents versus non parents, March 2015
                                                                                                                      • The Consumer – Interest in Meal Types

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • Consumers most interested in cleaner ingredient decks
                                                                                                                            • Figure 29: Interest in ready-to-eat meal types, March 2015
                                                                                                                          • Gender impacts consumer interest in frozen meal innovation
                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Interest in ready-to-eat meal types by gender, March 2015
                                                                                                                          • Consumers are open to innovative and premium options
                                                                                                                            • Parents looking for nutritious options for their kids
                                                                                                                              • Figure 31: Interest in ready-to-eat meal types, parents versus non-parents, March 2015
                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Choice Factors

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • Size matters when choosing frozen meals
                                                                                                                                • Figure 32: Importance of different factors when purchasing ready-to-eat meal (any rank), March 2015
                                                                                                                                • Figure 33: Importance of different factors when purchasing ready-to-eat meal (#1 rank), March 2015
                                                                                                                              • Men and women are influenced by certain factors
                                                                                                                                • Figure 34: Importance of different factors when purchasing ready-to-eat meal by gender (any rank), March 2015
                                                                                                                              • Age impacts purchase considerations
                                                                                                                                • Region holds modest impact over what people eat
                                                                                                                                • The Consumer – Attitudes towards Ready and Prepared Meals

                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Health and quality perceptions are a challenge for ready-to-eat meals
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 35: Ready-to-eat meal purchase attitudes (any rank), March 2015
                                                                                                                                    • Consumers apprehensive about ready-to-eat meals’ nutritional content
                                                                                                                                      • Ready-to-eat meals are a conduit to new food experiences
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 36: Ready-to-eat meal purchase attitudes; agree ready-to-eat meals allow consumers to try different foods and flavours by age, March 2015
                                                                                                                                      • Ready-to-eat meals are seen as ‘emergency options’
                                                                                                                                      • The Consumer – The Chinese Consumer and Ready and Prepared Meals

                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                          • Chinese Canadians eat ready and prepared meals more frequently
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Usage of ready and prepared meals in the past six months: Chinese Canadians versus overall population, March 2015
                                                                                                                                          • Chinese Canadians are more likely to turn to frozen meals at lunch and as a snack
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Occasion for ready-to-eat meal types in the past six months: Chinese Canadians versus overall population, March 2015
                                                                                                                                          • Chinese Canadians want to avoid artificial ingredients in frozen meals
                                                                                                                                            • Chinese Canadians hold more positive perceptions of ready-to-eat meals
                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – Target Groups

                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                • Four target groups
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 39: Target groups for ready-to-eat meals, March 2015
                                                                                                                                                • Ready for Emergencies (28%)
                                                                                                                                                  • Less Health Minded (28%)
                                                                                                                                                    • Frozen Meal Enthusiasts (27%)
                                                                                                                                                      • Disengaged (17%)

                                                                                                                                                      Companies Covered

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                                                                                                                                                      Ready and Prepared Meals - Canada - May 2015

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