Trends in the ready-to-eat meals sector: quality flavors that care for the planet

The climate crisis is increasingly accentuated by our consumption habits, which is causing a growing concern about the real environmental impact generated by certain activities and little by little consumers tend to make small - but significant - changes that do not affect their daily lives or consumption habits, with sustainable practices that are easy to apply.

This has led to different changes in consumption, also in the ready meals market, where more economical, healthy and sustainable options stand out.

In this article we present the latest trends in ready meals.

TRENDS IN READY MEALS

Sustainability in packaging

Sustainability is a trend that we find more and more in the different food sectors due to the climate crisis. The increasing demand for Eco-Friendly packaging is a reflection of this. This trend poses a challenge for ready meals manufacturers who, on average, rely on plastic packaging to preserve the integrity and freshness of their meals.

Brands must minimize their environmental impact and can do so in several ways: by reducing the amount of materials used, eliminating non-recyclable items or using biodegradable and compostable materials.

Source: Mintel GNPD, July 2018 - June 2023.

© Greenhous Farma-C+ Organic Booster (Canada)
Organic Booster: 1000 mg of vitamin C per serving. Immune system booster with a blend of rich natural sources such as orange, acerola cherry and sea buckthorn).

Plant-Based and flexitarian diet

Recently there is a gradual shift away from more carnivorous dietary habits, with a more focused look at the "flexitarian" diet , the trendy term referring to a more flexible vegetarian diet.
This shift has been driven primarily by economic, dietary and environmental concerns.

Ready-to-eat brands are addressing this trend by offering versions of popular dishes with less or even no meat content, such as vegetable lasagna.

Focusing on launches, according to Mintel, vegan and plant-based claims continue to grow strongly in the sector. This suggests that brands are indeed addressing this trend and targeting more "flexitarian" consumers. 

Source: Mintel GNPD, July 2018 - June 2023.

Heinz Jalfrezi Curry Beanz Bowl (UK)
Expansion of the Beanz range in the frozen ready meals category. The four-person range features recipes inspired by international cuisines that are suitable for vegans, contain fiber and protein and contribute to consumers' "five-a-day".

Ready Meals: more frozen and less refrigerated

Time-strapped consumers are looking for ways to simplify meal preparation, with convenience being a key benefit in the ready-to-eat category.

According to Mintel, frozen ready meals launches are taking a large share of the market, compared to refrigerated and dry. More and more customers prefer frozen ready meals, as it is an advantage to be able to store them for extended periods of time.

Source: Mintel GNPD, July 2018 - June 2023.

Co-Branding

Consumers are more flexible with pricing when it comes to dishes prepared with premium ingredients. These dishes offer customers the opportunity to try new or unfamiliar flavors and ingredients in recipes they would not have prepared on their own.

Brand collaborations can encourage consumers to engage with new flavors, as the addition of a recognizable ingredient brand can encourage the public to buy for the premium appeal of that product.

© Hetbahn Cupbahn Big Spam Topped Soy Sauce Mixed Rice (South Korea)
Spam Ham: Hetbahn Cupbahn Big Spam mixed rice with soy sauce includes Spam Classic ham, rice, mayonnaise, soy sauce and a tasty seaweed and sesame seasoning.

Meat preferences: chicken and beef

Ready meal brands are focusing innovation around the most consumed animal proteins.
Chicken, with 24% of launches, is the dominant flavor in ready meal launches, followed by beef (8%) and pork (4%).

On the other hand, fish and seafood are still considered a niche market.
This is because, although there is considerable interest in reducing meat consumption, consumers in some regions still consider it to be a staple food.

© Puravida Lifebowl Cilantro Chicken Baja Bowl with Roasted Tomato Chile Sauce (United States)
Chicken baja bowl: Puravida Lifebowl Cilantro Chicken Baja Bowl with Roasted Tomato Chile Sauce is made with organic and artisanal ingredients and contains no artificial flavors or trans fats.

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