This report provides an overview of the UK ready meal market, combining market data, demographic consumption patterns within the category and the key consumer need states driving consumption. The report highlights best practice new product development for effectively targeting the most pertinent consumer need states and offers strategic recommendations to capitalize on evolving consumer need states.
Introduction and Landscape
Why was the report written?
This report has been designed to give an overview of the UK ready meal market in terms of the key demographic groups driving consumption and what their motivations are for doing so. The report adopts a unique method of quantifying consumer trends to highlight the degree of influence they have on consumption within the category. This enables the reader to identify the most important trends within the market and also determine whether beliefs over what influences consumer behavior within the category are accurate
What is the current market landscape and what is changing?
After witnessing only stagnant market value sales growth over the period 2007-2012, value growth in the category is forecast to accelerate over the next five year period ending 2017. The fact that value will grow at a faster rate than market volume indicates there will be a greater willingness to trade-up among consumers when choosing ready meals, meaning it is vital product positioning aligns with the most important consumer need states to benefit from this future growth.
What are the key drivers behind recent market changes?
Busy lives and changing life-stages are the key drivers of change within the UK ready meal market. Consumers are feeling increasingly time-scarce as they look to balance work and social lives, are and looking for meal solutions that allow them to free up time spent in the kitchen for more favorable activities. This is true of both men and women, who are also delaying “traditional” life-time responsibilities such as marriage and parenthood until later in life. These consumers are also looking to convenience meal offerings to help facilitate their busy lifestyles.
What makes this report unique and essential to read?
This report is built on unique proprietary data based on an extensive national representative survey, enabling Canadean to provide unique valuations of consumer target groups and the degree consumer trends influence consumption patterns.
Key Features and Benefits
Key consumer demographic groups driving consumption within the UK market are also identified. The figures showcase the volume of ready meal consumption attributed to specific age groups and gender, as well as identifying whether these demographic groups “over” consume in the category (i.e. they account for a higher proportion of volume sales than the proportion of society they represent overall).
Market value and volumes over the period 2007-2017 for the UK and nine other countries across the globe. The UK figures are also broken down into segment level to cover volume growth of ambient ready meals, chilled ready meals, dried ready meals and frozen ready meals over the ten year period.
The report quantifies the degree of influence that the 20 key consumer trends identified by Canadean have on ready meal consumption occasions, with granular analysis on the extent that degree of influences varies between gender and age group.
The report provides insight to highlight the “so what?” implications behind the data, and analysis on how the need states of consumers within the ready meal category will evolve in the short-to-medium term future.
Key Market Issues
Cooking habits are being affected by time-scarcity as consumers look to juggle their personal and professional lives and look to free up time spent in the kitchen for more enjoyable tasks.
Consumers are shopping around more within the ready meal category because of a greater focus on value for money. This means that it is crucial that ready meals in the UK market are aligned with the most pertinent consumer need states.
Consumers are delaying responsibilities such as parenthood and marriage till later in life and are instead engaging in hectic social lives where they look to free up time spent in the kitchen.
Indulgence and escapism are among the main trends influencing consumption habits in the UK ready meal market. However, the non-emotive nature of the category means the trends are not as influential on ready meal consumption habits compared to other grocery categories.
Whether real or perceived, consumers are feeling more time-scarce than ever as a result of more frantic personal and professional lives. This is resulting in consumers seeking out time saving products that help facilitate their busy lifestyles and minimize time spent in the kitchen. However, it is important to remember that convenience is seen as a given for many consumers, meaning it is crucial that convenience is not over-promoted at the expense of attributes such as indulgence when it comes to successful positioning ready-meals.
Continued levels of economic uncertainty combined with rising food inflation means that consumers are continuing to struggle with their finances. As such, brand loyalty is diminishing as consumers shop around more to try and obtain better value for money. This is particularly true in the ready meal market because of the non-emotive nature of the category. However, it has to be remembered that greater value for money doesn't necessarily mean trading down to cheaper alternatives. Indeed, the fact that chilled ready meals are outperforming frozen ready meals, despite the former being associated with a premium price tag, is testament to that.
Consumers are delaying “traditional” lifestyle responsibilities such as marriage and having children till later in life. This is a result of consumers staying in education till longer, becoming more global in their travelling patterns and developing more ambitious plans both professionally and personally. Linked to the busy lives trend, consumers want to reduce time spent in the kitchen to spend time on more favorable activities. The changing lifestyle trend is particularly relevant to women as they look to balance professional and personal responsibilities when they do choose to start a family.
Across the media, the ready meal category has an inherently unhealthy image. However, whilst such perceptions may prevent consumers from avoiding the ready meal category completely, health actually has little influence on product choice among those who do consume. This means that consumers tend not to spend much time evaluating nutritional information when selecting ready meals and the level of micronutrients such as fat and salt that a product contains. That means whilst health concerns may prevent some people from consuming ready-meals, it actually has little influence on those who do, meaning health claims on pack should not be over promoted at the expense of other product attributes such as indulgence and high quality ingredients.
Again, there has been much attention in the UK media towards men and cooking, promoting the view that males are priding themselves on their cooking skills and are spending more time in the kitchen. Whilst this may be true that more men are favoring spending time in the kitchen preparing meals from scratch, they are still consuming more ready meals on average than females, indicating a greater reliance on processed food because they are either unable or unwilling to spend time cooking food from scratch. As such, any perceptions within the industry that UK males are a nation of scratch cookers needs to be treated with caution.