Growth has been a result of several factors; externally it has been driven by the surge in demand for convenience and the ongoing impact of high inflation, while internal polarisation, diversification and premiumisation have been pivotal to bolstering sales in the marketplace. The major story in the industry has been the continued recovery from horsegate, one of the biggest food scandals in British history, which engrossed the market in Following the revelation, market value plummeted as consumers were directly confronted with the issue as it was plastered across the national media. However, following decline in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, the industry looks to have nearly completed its recovery as growth returns to the marketplace, in particular in the sectors most damaged, such as frozen ready meals.
This is largely because domestic freezers did not become the norm until the late s and early 70s, says Alan Warde, professor of sociology at the University of Manchester and author of Consumption, Food and Taste.
Family life was also changing. More women were working and everyone was putting in longer hours at the office. Anything that could save time was popular and promoted as a good thing.
It became all about convenience. We've come to believe religiously in convenience food without thinking too much about where it comes from because we trust suppliers and retailers Food writer Rose Prince Britain's changing meat buying habits The likes of Findus Crispy Pancakes and Birds Eye Potato Waffles were being served up in homes across the UK.
But it wasn't only technology that firms were capitalising on, the rise in divorce rates was also considered an opportunity. More men were having to cook for themselves and ready meal producers were on hand to make it as easy for them as possible.
Advertising campaigns were targeted at single men, although this sales tactic wasn't without its problems.
Frozen food, once a status symbol, had lost its shine. Consumers wanted freshness - and one retailer was ready to give it to them in a move that would change the face of ready meals forever.
Ready meal sales in major supermarkets topped £bn in the past year, fuelled by consumers switching from eating out to dining in with posh convenience lines, according to market analyst IRI. In the 52 week period ending 2nd December , billion British pounds was spent on chilled ready meals and main meal accompaniments, which has increased to billion British pounds by the. “The Chinese market has grown rapidly so far this year as local players such as Alibaba, urbanagricultureinitiative.com, and Baidu follow the same strategic path set by Amazon and Google,”Strategic Analytics reported.
Image caption Before mashed potato arrived in the ready meal aisle, it came in a tin In Marks and Spencer launched its ready-made chicken Kiev. What made it different from everything that had gone before was that it was chilled, rather than frozen.
This met consumer demand for freshness and made people feel a step closer to the idea that they had made it themselves, says Warde.
Major developments in stock control and faster distribution also helped revolutionise the market. Chilled ready meal sales rose throughout the 80s and the arrival of microwaves in the domestic kitchen only increased them further.
Chilled meals arrived in an era when healthy eating was becoming more fashionable. Again the industry responded with the likes of Findus Lean Cuisine and McCain Oven Chips which used sunflower oil, the healthy option to the deep-fried version. Increasing awareness of healthy eating continued in the 90s, with people becoming more concerned about e-numbers, additives and nutritional issues.
It prompted the emergence of premium products and ranges. People were willing to pay more for something a bit posher.
Labels and packaging also started to change, they got much fancier with high quality, seductive images. The increasing number of people eating out also had an impact. Supermarkets are sexing them up and promising a fine dining experience. And the recession has only helped boost sales as cash-strapped consumers have cut back on restaurant meals to stay in instead.
But the nutritional content of such food has attracted negative publicity. A study published in the British Medical Journal in December found that not even one of supermarket ready meals it analysed fully complied with nutritional guidelines set by the World Health Organization.
Another study by the University of Glasgow branded ready meals as "nutritionally chaotic". Regardless, the market keeps on growing. But some people were never fans and never will be.The global ready meals market has been segmented on the basis of product type into frozen ready meals, chilled, canned, and dried ready meals.
Market Dynamics. Drivers.
Increased. No wonder more Australians eat frozen/chilled ready-made meals in an average seven days now than just five years ago.
In the year to March , % of Australians 14+ said they’d eaten a frozen/chilled ready-prepared meal in the last seven days. In the 52 week period ending 2nd December , billion British pounds was spent on chilled ready meals and main meal accompaniments, which has increased to billion British pounds by the.
Ready meals have long been a convenient option, but the offerings from supermarkets, particularly in the chilled section (refrigerated, not frozen), have recently expanded. And at face value they seem to offer all the benefits of a home-cooked meal, without the time and effort.
View our list of microwaveable Prego™ Ready Meals, including Creamy Three Cheese Alfredo Rotini, Marinara & Italian Sausage Rotini, Roasted Tomato & Vegetables Penne, and Creamy Tomato Penne.
The Sprouts ready-to-eat food selection also includes (in addition to sandwiches, wraps and the like) a variety of pasta dishes, family-size meals with porkchops or chicken plus rolls and sides (feeds 4 people for about $12), single meals with a variety of meat and veggie options, and prepared vegetable dishes.