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The global prepared meals market size was valued at USD 147.04 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 156.33 billion in 2022 to USD 248.13 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.8% during the forecast period. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with prepared meals experiencing marginally reduced demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited an average growth of 5.90% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Prepared meals are packaged fresh and frozen. They require a little preparation besides heating up. Buyers' inclination for packaged "ready meals" with fewer preservatives and longer shelf life has augmented the demand for High-Pressure Processing (HPP) technology. This technology uses pressure spread by water to eradicate pathogens and other spoilage microorganisms. This advanced technology can enhance shelf life two to threefold without depending on preservatives.
Significant Increase in Prepared Meals Demand during COVID-19 Pandemic
Demand for prepared meals increased as the COVID-19 pandemic forced several consumers to stay at home, necessitating the purchase of ready meal products, and leading to current demand outstripping accessible supplies. The pandemic accelerated this growth by limiting eating out at cafés and restaurants and stimulating consumers to switch to online grocery stores. Demand was witnessed in restaurant-meals delivery and in ready-made meals via online channels. Consumers’ demand for on-the-go food products and convenience led to more online meals offerings and more significant competition.
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Consumer Shift Toward Organic Ready Meals is a Prominent Trend
In the pursuit of convenience and healthy foods, consumers have resorted to organic packaged and processed foods based on the belief that organic and natural foods are free of chemicals and comprise fewer artificial ingredients than conventional processed foods. Growing demand for convenient and organic food products such as organic ready meals is commonly related to consumer values and beliefs about health with better nutrient content. Over the past few years, changing consumer lifestyles and expectations have led to a dramatic surge in demand for organic ready meals. Consumers have comprehended to relish the cuisines which offer them functional value in addition to taste, for example, organic, clean-ready, and healthy meals. Therefore, such organic produce options are promising to impact the industry's growth.
Increased Demand for Convenience Foods Supports the Market Growth
The demand for ready-to-eat and convenience foods has rapidly increased since they save time and effort for working professionals with hectic schedules. Millennials and GenZ are driving the introduction of premium quality products through their growing interest in innovative packaged foods. Furthermore, the rise in demand for more premium and nutritious ready-to-eat foods has been specifically intended for those who consider themselves ‘foodies’. Additionally, the augmented demand for convenient food allows formulators to innovate trending customer desires with an on-the-go solution that consumers can relish anywhere.
Increasing Penetration of Several Food Manufacturers will Propel Market Growth
Prepared meals are an easy and convenient lifestyle choice for consumers with hectic schedules desiring food choices that combine quality, flavor, nutrition, and fuss-free preparation. Health is the most significant trend after convenience, driving innovation in the market. Manufacturers are articulating ready meals with ingredients that have explicit health benefits such as antioxidants and oats. Witnessing the increasing demand for prepared meals among consumers, producers are currently launching natural and healthier ready meals products. As per the Global Innovation Report by Protéines XTC 2019, new trends and headliner products, such as exotic food, vegan food, wraps, and salads, witnessed 6.8% of all the food innovations in 2018. Therefore, such factors have influenced several food producers to increase their penetration in the industry.
Growing Demand for Fresh Food and Rising Obesity is Expected to Limit the Product Demand
Fresh foods are the most superior substitutes for ready meals. Recent developments in fresh food due to the COVID-19 pandemic indicate the rising popularity of fresh foods worldwide. The rising prevalence of health consciousness and predominance of lifestyle disorders, and the increasing expenditure capacity of consumers are the major factors surging the demand for fresh food. Regardless of the convenience offered by ready meals, the nutritional value associated with the food is comparatively lesser. Moreover, keeping several preservatives and additives in food fresh and having a longer shelf life is expected to hamper the prepared meals market growth in the near future.
Rising Consumer Preference for Frozen and Chilled Meals to Trigger Demand Growth
Based on product, the market is segmented into frozen meals, chilled meals, and canned meals. Frozen meals segment accounted for the largest share of the market and is among the most popular product categories globally. The product has an increased shelf life compared to chilled products, which helps sustain the nutritional quality and freshness of the product. Thus, frozen ready meals are a more convenient substitute for chilled products, thus propelling the demand for frozen prepared meals. Consumers' demand for frozen meals intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the British Federal Association, in April 2021, the frozen category grew ahead of the retail channel at +11.5% and also ahead of its chilled and fresh categories.
Retailers are developing varieties of frozen & chilled ready meals and snacks that demand heating without any additional preparation before consumption. With supermarkets & hypermarkets stocking an ever-increasing variety of these meals such as risotto, lasagna, curries, and gourmet soups, it’s simpler than ever to avoid fast food and consume healthy during their busy days. Several chilled and frozen meals have a longer shelf life, value for money, and are nutritionally balanced and thus, they make life easier for the consumer. Therefore, such factors are attributed to the market growth over the forecast period.
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Supermarkets and Hypermarkets to hold Substantial Market Share, Owing to Availability of Multiple Brands
Based on distribution channel, the market is segmented into supermarkets & hypermarkets, convenience stores, online retail, and others. The supermarkets & hypermarkets segment dominated the market owing to the availability of a wide options of ready meals and ease of accessibility. Online retail segment is the significant driver in increasing sales of these meals. It rapidly brings small quantities of products to consumers, and local delivery service players have been quick to fill customer needs.
Europe Prepared Meals Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)
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Based on geography, the global market is categorized into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, and the Middle East & Africa.
Europe emerged as the largest market in 2021. The market is expected to grow significantly due to factors such as the introduction of more exotic products, the push toward premiumization, and the influence of private labels. Moreover, in Europe, the U.K. leads the way in the consumption of these meals. Germany, the U.K., and France account for half of the European region's ready meals sales. Furthermore, the increased demand for convenience food products among consumers due to hectic lifestyle boosts the market growth.
The market in North American countries, such as the United States and Canada, is expected to witness substantial gains owing to increased demand for processed food and a surge in income levels among inhabitants. In addition, increasing demand for ready meals in the region has also impacted the business models of leading grocery retailers such as Target, Aldi, and Walmart. All the grocers as mentioned earlier have combined cloud kitchens and added packaged breakfast and dinner meals to grocery brackets. Moreover, in August 2021, retail giant Kroger announced a partnership with Kitchen United to offer these meals to the consumer for pick-up during their grocery visit.
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The Asia Pacific region is likely to witness significant growth in the foreseeable future. Japan and China accounted for considerable market share, and other developing countries such as India, the Philippines, Singapore, and Australia exhibit strong growth owing to high potential countries and less saturation. The development of ready meals has significantly been sustained by the upsurge of women in Japan's workforce, which has created substantial demand for saving time and effort in cooking meals for breakfast and dinner. Additionally, the market in China, the world's second-largest economy, has been primarily driven by caterers. However, alteration from restaurants to family dining tables in the last two years, with so many people staying home in the era of strict zero-COVID-19 mobility lockdowns and restrictions, has rapidly brought ready meals to the mass consumer market.
Global Expansion and New Product Variations are the Key Strategies Fueling Market Growth
The prepared meals market share is highly fragmented in nature owing to the presence of a large number of domestic and global companies. High focus on innovations, collaboration, and new product lines are critical factors enabling key market players to address new market developments and gain a competitive edge to penetrate new markets. Several retailers have expanded their plant-based ready meals product range amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Morrisons, Asda, and Aldi have more than doubled their plant-based and vegetarian ready-meals offer as a proportion of their coverage. Moreover, manufacturers are heavily investing in the ready to eat meals market, owing to increased demand. For instance, in February 2022, Beak & Johnston, an Australian ready meals manufacturer, projected to complete the construction of a new USD 90 million kitchen facility in Western Sydney after the sector has rapidly grown over the last few years. The growth in ready meals popularity has been attributed to multiple factors, which include increasing demand for products that are rich in nutrients and sustain a healthy lifestyle such as ingredients for detoxing or a cleanse.
An Infographic Representation of Prepared Meals Market
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The market report analyzes the market in-depth and highlights crucial aspects such as prominent companies, product, and distribution channel areas. Besides this, the research report covered insights into the prepared meals market trends and highlights significant prepared meals industry developments. In addition to the aspects mentioned earlier, the report encompasses several factors contributing to the market's growth in recent years.
Value (USD Billion)
By Distribution Channel
North America (By Product, Distribution Channel, and Country)
Europe (By Product, Distribution Channel, and Country)
Asia Pacific (By Product, Distribution Channel, and Country)
South America (By Product, Distribution Channel, and Country)
Middle East and Africa (By Product, Distribution Channel, and Country)
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 147.04 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to reach USD 248.13 billion by 2029.
In 2021, the global market value stood at USD 147.04 billion.
Growing at a CAGR of 6.8%, the global market will exhibit steady growth over the forecast period (2022-2029).
By product, the frozen meals segment is expected to dominate the market throughout the forecast period (2022-2029).
Increasing demand for convenience food products is accelerating the market growth.
Nestle S.A., General Mills, Tyson Foods, and ConAgra Brands are the leading companies worldwide.
Europe dominated the global market in 2021.
Growing penetration of several food manufacturers will accelerate the product adoption in the near term.
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