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US Prepared Meals - Frozen and Refrigerated market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Prepared Meals - Frozen and Refrigerated market, its consumers and the major players who make up that market.

Market

Point of sale market data

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Market Size

How big is the market today and what is our 5 year forecast? Includes both best & worst case scenarios

Market Segmentation

What are the different segments within the market and how are those individual segments performing?

Consumer

Consumer behaviors

What are consumers looking for, what drives their buying habits and what are their main purchase influencers?

Demographic breakdown

From iGen & Millennials to Baby Boomers & beyond. Who is spending money and what are they spending it on?

Representative sample

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Product innovation

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Opportunities

What happens next, which areas are likely to experience growth and what opportunities exist within the market?

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by John Owen, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The prepared meals category has returned to growth as category competitors have responded to consumer interest in less-processed offerings and greater cuisine variety. Brands and retailers can help maintain the momentum by catering to the diverse needs of a new generation of users with products that offer greater flexibility, new taste experiences, and heathier eating. John Owen
Senior Food & Drink Analyst

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

This report discusses the following key topics:

Definition

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

Excluded from this Report are meals and side dishes prepared instore and sold in the fresh deli or other departments. Also excluded are meals and side dishes sold through foodservice venues.

What you need to know

The prepared meals category has returned to growth as category competitors have responded to consumer interest in less-processed offerings and greater cuisine variety. Brands and retailers can help maintain the momentum by catering to the diverse needs of a new generation of users with products that offer greater flexibility, new taste experiences, and heathier eating.

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Category growth accelerates in 2017
            • Figure 1: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, at current prices, 2013-23
          • Opportunity to increase use among current purchasers
            • Figure 2: Purchase of prepared meals, March 2018
          • Purchasers tend to treat category as a need rather than a want
            • Figure 3: Prepared meals behaviors, March 2018
          • The opportunities
            • Younger purchasers express interest in wider array of concepts
              • Figure 4: Interest in prepared meal concepts, by age, March 2018
            • Opportunity to promote mixing and matching
              • Figure 5: Prepared meals behaviors, March 2018
            • Greater variation in portions might expand usage among young adults
              • Figure 6: Attitudes toward prepared meals, by age, March 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Category growth accelerates in 2017
                • Frozen meals account for bulk of sales
                  • Sides help drive category growth
                  • Market Size and Forecast

                    • Category growth accelerates in 2017
                      • Figure 7: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, at current prices, 2013-23
                      • Figure 8: Total US sales and forecast of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, at current prices, 2013-23
                  • Market Breakdown

                    • Frozen meals account for bulk of sales
                      • Figure 9: Share of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, by segment, 2018
                    • Single-serve frozen meals maintain positive momentum
                      • Sides help drive category growth
                        • Figure 10: Total US sales of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, by segment, at current prices, 2013-18
                    • Market Factors

                      • Ambitions to eat cleaner, healthier
                        • Figure 11: Lifestyle statements: attitudes/opinions about food and health – Any agree
                      • Perimeter of store offerings meet current consumer demands
                        • Figure 12: Attitudes toward the perimeter, any agree, April 2017
                      • Mounting influence from younger adults
                        • Figure 13: Population by generation, 2013-23
                      • Rise of passionate cookers
                        • Figure 14: Cooking segments, by cooking enthusiasts, September 2015 and September 2017
                    • Company and Brand Sales of Prepared Meals

                      • ConAgra closes in on Nestle
                        • Sides drive gains for Pinnacle
                          • New brands close gap for Kraft Heinz
                            • Sales of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals by company
                              • Figure 15: Sales of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, by company, 2017 and 2018
                          • What’s Working?

                            • Healthier options drive side dish growth
                              • Fresh takes on comfort food offer permission to indulge
                                • Marie Callender’s launches Delights
                                  • From smaller brands, comfort food in different sizes and shapes
                                    • Private label gains momentum in an evolving grocery marketplace
                                    • What’s Struggling?

                                      • Sustained growth difficult for big brands
                                      • What’s Next?

                                        • Could conventional cooking methods make a comeback?
                                          • Catering to an increasingly diverse array of needs and preferences
                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                            • Opportunity to increase use among current purchasers
                                              • While convenience defines the category, taste is key as well
                                                • Young adults’ diversity of motivations creates targeted opportunities
                                                  • All natural ingredients and high protein are top priorities
                                                    • Health preferences shift with age
                                                      • Hearty comfort food still a top choice for category purchasers
                                                        • Young adults interested in a wider array of easy meal options
                                                          • Purchasers see improvements in taste and health
                                                          • Purchase of Prepared Meals

                                                            • Opportunity to increase use among current purchasers
                                                              • Figure 16: Purchase of prepared meals, March 2018
                                                            • Young adults more likely to make category purchases, especially frozen sides
                                                              • Figure 17: Purchase of prepared meals, by age, March 2018
                                                            • Opportunity to promote sides to larger households
                                                              • Figure 18: Purchase of prepared meals, by age, March 2018
                                                          • Reasons for Purchasing Prepared Meals

                                                            • While convenience defines the category, taste is key as well
                                                              • Figure 19: Reasons for purchasing of prepared meals, March 2018
                                                            • Men especially likely to be motivated by taste
                                                              • Figure 20: Reasons for purchasing of prepared meals, by gender, March 2018
                                                            • Young adults’ diversity of motivations creates targeted opportunities
                                                              • Figure 21: Reasons for purchasing of prepared meals, by age, March 2018
                                                          • Attribute Importance

                                                            • All natural ingredients and high protein are top priorities
                                                              • Offering a twist on the familiar could be effective in habit-driven category
                                                                • Figure 22: Prepared meal attribute importance, March 2018
                                                              • Health preferences shift with age
                                                                • Figure 23: Prepared meal attribute importance, by age, March 2018
                                                            • Prepared Meal Concepts

                                                              • Hearty comfort food still a top choice for category purchasers
                                                                • Figure 24: Interest in prepared meal concepts, by age, March 2018
                                                              • Women more likely to be interested in portability, creativity
                                                                • Figure 25: Interest in prepared meal concepts, by gender, March 2018
                                                              • Younger purchasers express interest in wider array of concepts
                                                                • Figure 26: Interest in prepared meal concepts, by age, March 2018
                                                            • Prepared Meals Behaviors

                                                              • Purchasers tend to treat category as a need rather than a want
                                                                • Opportunity to promote mixing and matching
                                                                  • Figure 27: Prepared meals behaviors, March 2018
                                                                • Young adults interested in a wider array of easy meal options
                                                                  • Figure 28: Prepared meals behaviors, by age, March 2018
                                                              • Attitudes toward Prepared Meals

                                                                • Purchasers see improvements in taste and health
                                                                  • Convenience is a given, but other ideas have the potential to differentiate
                                                                    • Figure 29: Attitudes toward prepared meals, March 2018
                                                                  • Greater variation in portions might expand usage among young adults
                                                                    • Figure 30: Attitudes toward prepared meals, by age, March 2018
                                                                  • Positive attitudes correlate to increased purchases
                                                                    • Figure 31: Attitudes toward prepared meals, by change in purchase frequency, March 2018
                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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

                                                                                  • Figure 32: Total US sales and forecast of frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2013-23
                                                                                  • Figure 33: Total US retail sales and forecast of single-serve frozen meals, at current prices, 2013-23
                                                                                  • Figure 34: Total US retail sales and forecast of multi-serve frozen meals, at current prices, 2013-23
                                                                                  • Figure 35: Total US retail sales and forecast of refrigerated meals, at current prices, 2013-23
                                                                                  • Figure 36: Total US retail sales and forecast of side dishes, at current prices, 2013-23
                                                                                  • Figure 37: Total US retail sales of frozen and refrigerated meals, by channel, at current prices, 2013-18
                                                                              • Appendix – Key Players

                                                                                  • Figure 38: Multi-outlet sales of single-serve frozen meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2017 and 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 39: Multi-outlet sales of multi-serve frozen meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2017 and 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 40: Multi-outlet sales of refrigerated meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2017 and 2018
                                                                                  • Figure 41: Multi-outlet sales of side dishes, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2017 and 2018