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Ready Meals - China - June 2016

“Convenience and fast to serve are the most common features in the ready meals category, but in fact ‘taste’ is considered as the most important purchase decision factor. Besides the taste, consumers’ interest in ‘additive-free’ products has grown and the claim is likely to become a new norm in the ready meals category.”
– Ching Yang, Research Analyst

This report discusses the following key topics:

  • How to respond to the competition from food delivery services?
  • Opportunities for Western-style ready meals
  • Beyond convenience: Customisable and experiential
  • Shelf-stable could venture into the ‘hot cereal’ concept to boost uptake

The ready meals market in China is growing steadily, driven by the urbanisation and the consequent busier lifestyle. However, the rising competition from the food delivery service has also slowed down its growth rate. Among the segments, the frozen ready meals segment dominates the market share, but the chilled ready meals segment has the highest growth rate.

Innovations from the key players range from extra vegetables, premium product lines, to products designed for different demographics. The ‘no additives/preservatives’ claim has grown the most among the new launched products, and most new launched products are from the traditional categories, such as frozen dumplings or buns.

From the consumer data, taste is the most important purchase decision factor and food additives/preservative is the most significant consumption barrier across the surveyed categories. Looking ahead, consumers would like to have more vegetables in their ready meals, and they also want to have more low-calorie or breakfast-targeted options available.

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions for ready meals:

  • Packaged meals in the format of frozen, chilled, or shelf-stable that are ready to eat or require limited preparation or additional food ingredients. The serving size is at least 250g and the example products are: frozen dumplings, buns, meals, pizza, pasta, shelf-stable canned porridge, and chilled lunchboxes.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Growth rate slowing down
              • Figure 1: Value sales forecast of ready meals market in China, 2011-21
              • Figure 2: Volume sales forecast of ready meals market in China, 2011-21
            • Market segmentation
              • Frozen meals dominate the market
                • Figure 3: Ready meal retail value market share, by segment, China 2011-16
              • Companies and brands
                • Figure 4: Companies’ value market share in the China retail ready meals market, 2014 and 2015
              • ‘No additives/preservatives’ is the rising product claim
                • More vegetables
                  • The consumer
                    • Frozen dumplings and wontons dominate the ready meals market
                      • Figure 5: Penetration of different ready meals, January 2016
                    • ‘Prefer preparing on their own’ and ‘food additives concern’ are the primary barriers for Chinese-style ready meals
                      • Figure 6: Top five consumption barriers for different types of ready meals, January 2016
                    • Western-style ready meals perceived as ‘premium’ and congee as ‘nutritional’
                      • Figure 7: Correspondence analysis – Perception towards different types of ready meals, January 2016
                    • Opportunities in breakfast occasion
                      • Figure 8: Ready meal consumption occasion, January 2016
                    • Taste above all
                      • Figure 9: Purchase factor of ready meals, January 2016
                    • Consumers want more vegetables
                      • Figure 10: Aspects consumers would like to see in the ready meals category, January 2016
                    • Mintropolitans eat more ready meals than the non-MinTs and high earners
                      • What we think
                      • Issues and Insights

                        • How to respond to the competition from food delivery services?
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • Opportunities for Western-style ready meals
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                    • Figure 11: Product examples of better-for-you Western-style ready meals, UK, 2015-16
                                    • Figure 12: Product examples of Western-style ready meals with localised flavour, Japan, Korea, and India, 2015-16
                                  • Beyond convenience: Customisable and experiential
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                          • Figure 13: Product example of Western-style meal kit, 2015
                                        • Shelf-stable could venture into the ‘hot cereal’ concept to boost uptake
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                              • Figure 14: Product examples of hot cereal, US, Germany, and Norway, 2016
                                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                            • Growth rate slowing down
                                              • Consumers’ increasing in-home food expenditure
                                                • Frozen meals dominate the market
                                                • Market Size and Forecast

                                                  • Growth rate slowing down
                                                    • Figure 15: Retail market forecast of ready meals market in China, 2011-21
                                                    • Figure 16: Value sales forecast of ready meals market in China, 2011-21
                                                    • Figure 17: Volume sales forecast of ready meals market in China, 2011-21
                                                • Market Drivers

                                                  • Consumers’ increasing in-home food expenditure
                                                    • Figure 18: Chinese in-home food expenditure, 2010-15
                                                  • Increased microwave and oven ownership
                                                    • Threat of food delivery service
                                                      • Figure 19: The percentage of consumers who don’t eat the following types of ready meals due to considering food delivery more convenient, January 2016
                                                  • Market Segmentation

                                                    • Frozen meals dominate the market
                                                      • Figure 20: Ready meal retail value market share, by segmentation, China, 2011-16
                                                    • Chilled ready meals grow at double-digit rate
                                                      • Figure 21: Value sales and growth rate of chilled ready meals, 2011-16
                                                      • Figure 22: Percentage of consumers who have bought chilled prepared meals from convenience stores, by city, January 2015
                                                    • Shelf-stable segment struggles to grow
                                                      • Figure 23: Value sales and growth rate of shelf-stable ready meals, 2011-16
                                                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                    • Fragmented market
                                                      • No additives/preservatives is the rising trend
                                                        • Ready meals targeting kids
                                                          • More vegetables
                                                          • Market Share

                                                            • Fragmented market
                                                              • Figure 24: Companies’ value market share in the China retail ready meals market, 2014 and 2015
                                                            • New players joining the category
                                                              • Figure 25: Product example of CP Foods’ frozen ready meals, China 2016
                                                              • Figure 26: Product example of Western-style ready meals from local manufacturers, China, 2016
                                                            • Shrinkage of gift box market
                                                            • Competitive Strategies

                                                              • Sanquan launched ‘fun box’ vending machine
                                                                • Synear launched premium frozen dumpling line in 2015
                                                                  • Figure 27: Product example of premium ready meals, China, 2015-16
                                                                • Goubuli and TongFu Porridge went public
                                                                  • Figure 28: Ready-made congee from TongFu Porridge, 2014
                                                                • Nestlé discontinues frozen dumpling business in Taiwan
                                                                • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                  • ‘No additives/preservatives’ the rising trend
                                                                    • Figure 29: Top 10 claims in new ready meals market in China, 2013-16
                                                                  • Traditional categories still driving the innovation
                                                                    • Figure 30: New ready meals products in China, by sub-category, 2013-16
                                                                  • Ready meals targeting kids
                                                                    • Figure 31: Percentage of new ready meals targeting kids, China, 2013-16
                                                                    • Figure 32: Product example of kids-oriented ready meals, China, 2016
                                                                    • Figure 33: Highlighted aspects consumers would like to see in the ready meals category, by presence of children in the household, January 2016
                                                                    • Figure 34: Product example of kids-targeted breakfast ready meals, US and Mexico, 2016
                                                                    • Figure 35: Synear Food’s cartoon character-shaped buns, 2016
                                                                  • More vegetables
                                                                    • Figure 36: Percentage of new vegetarian ready meals, China, 2013-15
                                                                    • Figure 37: Examples of vegetarian ready meals or real meals featuring the vegetable ingredients, China 2015-16
                                                                  • Self-heating ready meals
                                                                    • Figure 38: Self-heating ready meal, China, 2014
                                                                  • Increase brand awareness through vending machines
                                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                    • Taste and food additives are the primary concerns
                                                                      • Western-style ready meals are perceived as ‘premium’ while ready-made congee are ‘nutritional’
                                                                        • Taste above all
                                                                          • Consumers want more vegetables but not totally vegetarian
                                                                          • Penetration of Different Ready Meals

                                                                            • Frozen dumplings and wontons dominate the ready meals market
                                                                              • Figure 39: Penetration of different ready meals, January 2016
                                                                              • Figure 40: Frozen dumplings/wontons consumption, by region, January 2016
                                                                            • Rising star: Frozen processed meat
                                                                              • Figure 41: Product example of processed meat products, China, 2015-16
                                                                            • Men eat more Chinese-style chilled RTE meals; females eat more frozen dimsum
                                                                              • Figure 42: Penetration of different ready meals, by gender, January 2016
                                                                            • Families with children consume more ready meals
                                                                              • Figure 43: Penetration of different ready meals, by presence of children in the household, January 2016
                                                                            • Western-style ready meals are welcomed by high earners and those with higher education
                                                                              • Figure 44: Penetration of different ready meals, by highlighted demographics, January 2016
                                                                          • Consumption Barriers

                                                                            • Taste and food additives are the primary concerns
                                                                              • Figure 45: Consumption barriers for different types of ready meals, January 2016
                                                                            • Western-style frozen meals need more competitive pricing and consumer education
                                                                              • Figure 46: Top four consumption barriers for Western-style ready meals, January 2016
                                                                            • Meal kits could be positioned as a ‘cooking aid’
                                                                              • Figure 47: Top three consumption barriers of meal kits, January 2016
                                                                          • Attributes Associated with Different Ready Meals

                                                                            • Western-style ready meals own the ‘premium’ image
                                                                              • Figure 48: Correspondence analysis – Perception towards different types of ready meals, January 2016
                                                                              • Figure 49: Attributes associated with different types of ready meals, January 2016
                                                                            • Nutritional is the key feature of ready-made congee
                                                                              • ‘Taste’, ‘safe’ and ‘fresh’ are the attributes that need to improve
                                                                              • Consumption Occasions

                                                                                • Opportunities in breakfast occasion
                                                                                  • Figure 50: Ready meal consumption occasion, by meal occasion, January 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 51: Example products targeting breakfast occasions with satiating product/brand image, US, 2015-16
                                                                                • Rooms for consuming at work and on the go
                                                                                  • Figure 52: Ready meal consumption occasion, by location, January 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 53: Percentage of ready meals products positioned for on-the-go consumption, US, UK, and China, 2014-16
                                                                                  • Figure 54: Example product that can be eaten with one hand, US, 2015
                                                                                • Equal amount of people eat ready meals alone and with family
                                                                                  • Figure 55: Ready meal consumption occasion, by accompaniment, January 2016
                                                                              • Purchase Factors

                                                                                • Taste above all
                                                                                  • Figure 56: Purchase factor of ready meals, January 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 57: Percentage of new ready meals products with nutrition-related claims, China, 2013-16
                                                                                • Higher awareness of food additives
                                                                                  • Figure 58: Percentage of new ready meals products with ‘no additives/preservatives’ claims, China, 2013-16
                                                                                  • Figure 59: Example of ready meal brands featuring the naturalness and simplicity of their ingredients, US, 2015
                                                                              • General Attitudes towards Ready Meals

                                                                                • Familiar flavour helps
                                                                                  • Figure 60: Consumers’ attitudes towards current ready meal usage, January 2016
                                                                                • Consumers want more vegetables but not totally vegetarian
                                                                                  • Figure 61: Aspects consumers would like to see in the ready meals category, January 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 62: Percentage of consumers who would like to see more vegetables in ready meals, by age, January 2016
                                                                              • Meet the Mintropolitans

                                                                                • Eat more ready meals than the non-MinTs and high earners
                                                                                  • Figure 63: Ready meals consumption, by consumer classification, January 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 64: Highlighted statements towards unsatisfied aspects in the ready meals category, by consumer classification, January 2016
                                                                                • More often eating on the go or at the workplace
                                                                                  • Figure 65: Consumption occasions where Mintropolitans eat more ready meals than the non-MinTs or high earners, January 2016
                                                                                • More willing to try meal kits delivery services
                                                                                  • Figure 66: Percentage of consumers interested in meal kits delivery services, by consumer classification, January 2016
                                                                              • Appendix – Market Segmentation

                                                                                  • Figure 67: Value sales of ready meals in China, by segment, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 68: Value sales forecast of frozen ready meals in China, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 69: Value sales forecast of chilled ready meals in China, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 70: Value sales forecast of shelf-stable ready meals in China, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 71: Segment share of ready meals in China, by volume, 2010-20
                                                                                  • Figure 72: Volume sales of ready meals in China, by segment, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 73: Volume sales forecast of frozen ready meals in China, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 74: Volume sales forecast of chilled ready meals in China, 2011-21
                                                                                  • Figure 75: Volume sales forecast of shelf-stable ready meals in China, 2011-21
                                                                              • Appendix – Methodology and Definitions

                                                                                • Methodology
                                                                                  • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                    • Abbreviations

                                                                                    Companies Covered

                                                                                    To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                    Ready Meals - China - June 2016

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