Description

“While the prepared meals category got a substantial temporary sales boost during the pandemic as consumers cut back on foodservice spending, it had been generating modest growth before, driven by improvements in product quality, healthfulness and cuisine variety. Continued improvement in these areas will be necessary to keep the category on a growth track in the long run. In addition, there are opportunities to make the category even easier to use across more occasions and to serve as a complement to home cooking and not as a replacement for it.”
– John Owen, Associate Director – Food and Retail

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the prepared meals market.
  • Opportunities for expanding category use
  • Interest in category innovations
  • Attitudes toward prepared meals

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
          • COVID-19: market context
            • Economic and other assumptions
            • Executive Summary

                • Top takeaways
                  • Market overview
                    • Impact of COVID-19 on prepared meals
                      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on prepared meals, 2021
                    • Opportunities and challenges
                      • Relatively low use of individual types points to pockets of untapped growth potential
                        • Figure 2: Prepared meal consumption, 2021
                      • Flavor exploration and customization draw interest among younger users
                        • Figure 3: Interest in prepared meal concepts, by age, 2021
                      • Supplementing home cooking rather than replacing it
                        • Figure 4: Attitudes toward prepared meals, 2021
                    • The Market – Key Takeaways

                      • Category benefits as consumers turn to home meal prep in pandemic
                        • Multi-serve products rise most in pandemic
                          • After pandemic disruption, foodservice spending regains momentum
                            • An opportunity to complement home cooking
                              • Greater flexibility in portions could drive growth
                              • Market Size and Forecast

                                • Prepared meals benefit from rise in overall grocery during pandemic
                                  • Figure 5: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of prepared meals, at current prices, 2015-25
                                  • Figure 6: Total US retail sales and forecast of prepared meals, at current prices, 2015-25
                              • Segment Performance

                                • Family-oriented meal solutions fare best during pandemic
                                  • Figure 7: Total US retail sales of prepared meals, by segment, at current prices, 2015-20
                              • Market Factors

                                • After pandemic disruption, foodservice spending regains momentum
                                  • Figure 8: Sales of food at home and away from home, November 2019-March 2021
                                • With help, home cooking could stay elevated after the pandemic
                                  • Figure 9: Pandemic-driven changes in behavior, 2020
                              • Market Opportunities

                                • Ingredients for success
                                  • Complementing home cooking
                                    • Maximizing portioning flexibility
                                    • Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

                                      • Opportunities for smaller brands and private label
                                        • Indulgent comfort foods gain momentum in pandemic
                                        • Market Share

                                          • Smaller brands and private label continue to make gains
                                            • Figure 10: Multi-outlet sales of prepared meals, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
                                        • Competitive Strategies

                                          • Indulgent comfort foods gain momentum in pandemic
                                            • Better-for-you brands lose share, work to align better with healthy eaters
                                              • Smaller brands pursue new definitions of comfort
                                              • The Consumer – Key Takeaways

                                                • Relatively low use of individual types suggests opportunity to cross-sell
                                                  • A challenge to maintain pandemic-driven sales growth
                                                    • Convenience defines category, but taste is a key secondary benefit
                                                      • A taste of the familiar has appeal during pandemic
                                                        • Flavor exploration and customization draw interest among younger users
                                                          • Supplementing home cooking rather than replacing it
                                                          • Prepared Meal Consumption

                                                            • Relatively low use of individual types suggests opportunity to cross-sell
                                                              • Figure 11: Prepared meal consumption, 2021
                                                            • Portion flexibility and healthier options could drive use among older adults
                                                              • Figure 12: Prepared meal consumption, by age, 2021
                                                            • Variety to appeal to households of all sizes
                                                              • Figure 13: Prepared meal consumption, by household size, 2021
                                                          • Change in Consumption

                                                            • Category faces challenge of maintaining pandemic-driven momentum
                                                              • An opportunity to partner with home cooking, not replace it
                                                                • Figure 14: Change in consumption, 2021
                                                            • Reasons for Prepared Meal Consumption

                                                              • Convenience defines category, but taste is a key secondary benefit
                                                                • Figure 15: Reasons for prepared meal consumption, 2021
                                                              • Many younger users look for more than convenience and taste
                                                                • Figure 16: Reasons for prepared meal consumption, by age, 2021
                                                            • Attribute Importance

                                                              • A taste of the familiar has appeal during pandemic
                                                                • Figure 17: Prepared meal attribute importance, 2021
                                                              • Balancing hearty and healthy a key to connecting with older adults
                                                                • Figure 18: Prepared meal attribute importance, by age, 2021
                                                            • Interest in Prepared Meal Concepts

                                                              • Comfort food remains a category foundation
                                                                • Figure 19: Interest in prepared meal concepts, 2021
                                                              • Flavor exploration and customization draw interest among younger users
                                                                • Figure 20: Interest in prepared meal concepts, by age, 2021
                                                            • Attitudes toward Prepared Meals

                                                              • A nod to improved quality
                                                                • Supplementing home cooking rather than replacing it
                                                                  • Figure 21: Attitudes toward prepared meals, 2021
                                                                • Cleaner labels remain key for continued category growth
                                                                  • Figure 22: Attitudes toward prepared meals, by age, 2021
                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                • Data sources
                                                                  • Sales data
                                                                    • Forecast
                                                                      • Consumer survey data
                                                                        • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                          • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                                              • Terms
                                                                              • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                  • Figure 23: Total US retail sales and forecast of prepared meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 24: Total US retail sales and forecast of single-serve frozen meals, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 25: Total US retail sales and forecast of single-serve frozen meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 26: Total US retail sales and forecast of multi-serve frozen meals, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 27: Total US retail sales and forecast of multi-serve frozen meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 28: Total US retail sales and forecast of refrigerated meals, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 29: Total US retail sales and forecast of refrigerated meals, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 30: Total US retail sales and forecast of side dishes, at current prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 31: Total US retail sales and forecast of side dishes, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
                                                                                  • Figure 32: Total US retail sales of prepared meals, by channel, at current prices, 2015-20
                                                                              • Appendix – Companies and Brands

                                                                                  • Figure 33: Multi-outlet sales of single-serve frozen meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
                                                                                  • Figure 34: Multi-outlet sales of multi-serve frozen meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
                                                                                  • Figure 35: Multi-outlet sales of refrigerated meals, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021
                                                                                  • Figure 36: Multi-outlet sales of side dishes, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2020 and 2021

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