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In 2015, improving economic conditions in the largest and most developed prepared meals markets have given manufacturers and retailers reason to be concerned that consumers will defect to foodservice as a replacement for homemade meals for everyday meal occasions. In response, manufacturers have stepped up development of comfort food positioned products, seemingly to offer reassurance that prepared convenience foods can provide a home-cooked eating experience.

In the US, prepared meal market leaders Nestlé, ConAgra and Hormel have all introduced comfort food ranges. Nestlé repositioned and repackaged multiple SKUs under the Lean Cuisine Comfort frozen range, while Hormel introduced Comfort Classics, a sub-brand of its shelf-stable Compleats range. Meanwhile, ConAgra’s homestyle-positioned Marie Callender’s brand introduced the Comfort Bakes sub-brand of frozen multi-serve meals.

Comfort food positioning is also being utilized in Europe’s second-largest prepared meals market, where shelf-stable meals continue to play a significant role.

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