Global Ready-to-Eat Industry Analysis
The global ready-to-eat market (large segment of the packaged food industry) is expected to break the $81 billion mark by 2015, according to research from Global Industry Analysts. Market growth is fuelled by rising levels of disposable income, the adoption of western eating habits across the world, and the rising number of women in the workplace.
Ready meals are entirely pre-cooked meals sold at retail outlets that only require heating to be ready to eat. Cooked food is sometimes referred to as takeouts, fast food, takeouts, and carryouts. They can be composed of a wide range of ingredients including seafood, meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and pasta, and fall into several categories including ethnic, traditional, vegetarian, and continental dishes.
Leading ready meals markets are approaching maturity phase after years of strong growth. Traditionally, microwaveable meals boasting convenience were in high demand. With evolving consumer lifestyle and eating habits, consumers are more responsive to ready meals marketed as healthy, using organic or natural ingredients. Ready meals companies are also responding to evolving demand by offering new products, for example children’s meals, which constitute a market segment recording strong growth.
Ready meal manufacturers are likely to incorporate sustainable packaging concerns and a preference for local sourcing of food in new product development, reports Business Insights.
The global microwaveable foods market is expected to exceed $90 billion by 2015, reports Global Industry Analysts. Market growth is fuelled by demand from consumers with increasingly busy lifestyles, looking for convenient eating options that require little cooking effort and time. Changing consumer food purchasing patterns and an expanding range of microwavable food products are also driving market growth. Other factors leading to market expansion include rising levels of disposable income, demand from young singles and a growing consumer base of nuclear families.
- US ready meal market performance remains strong due to technological innovation and increasingly hectic consumer lifestyles, with less and less time for cooking.
- The EU also represents a huge market for ready meals, with both regions combining to dominate the global market. It currently has a near 40% stake in the global ready meals market in terms of value, according to research from MarketLine.
- Developing nations such as South and Central America and Asia represent good potential markets with strong growth forecast, particularly in Asia-Pacific where the market is expected to record a yearly growth rate of almost 7% over the coming years.
- Leading companies operating in the global ready meal market include: Heinz, ConAgra Foods, Nestle, Smithfield Foods, General Mills, Raynal et Roquelaure, Chef Solutions, Hormel Foods, The Findus Group, Kraft Foods, Reser's Fine Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Unilever, Advanced Fresh Concepts, Tyson Foods, William Saurin, The Schwan Food Company and Weight Watchers International.
- Nestle holds the top spot in the global ready meal market, generating close to 7% of the overall market value. The company has more than 280,000 employees, and is present in 80 countries worldwide. Nestle reported sales of $84 million in 2011.
- Illinois-based Kraft generated $5 billion in revenue from convenient meal sales in 2010, which represented 10% of its overall profits. The company has operations in more than 75 countries and a sales presence in 170 countries worldwide. Kraft employs around 127,000 people, and operates close to 225 manufacturing and processing centers along with 15 research and development facilities.
The Asia-Pacific ready meals market growth stands at the fastest rate of any region worldwide, reports Global Industry Analysts. Expansion in this regional market is driven by rising income, a widening base of consumers owning microwaves and refrigerators, and the adoption of western eating habits. Obstacles to growth include consumer preference for local diets and limitations on pork and beef consumption due to religious practices.
Demand for ready-cooked meals will continue to grow over coming years as consumers seek to meet their dietary and nutrition needs without spending time cooking or having to pay high prices. In addition, increasing health awareness means consumers will be demanding better quality meals made with fresh ingredients.
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