The global ready meals market is expected to grow on account of increasing advancement in the packaging industry. Demand for food that is additive free, minimally processed and with extended shelf life is expected to drive the market. Changing consumer lifestyle is another factor favorable for the ready meals market. Consumers are spending time in commuting and working long hours; this has led to growing demand for maximizing limited leisure time. Travel has been driving the demand for ethnic flavors and food, which is expected to give impetus to the market. The chilled ready meals market is expected to be the fastest growing sector of the ready meal market. However, increasing safety concerns associated with ready meals could pose a challenge for industry participants.
The market can be segmented on the basis of product into ethnic ready meals, dried ready meals, chilled ready meals, frozen ready meals and canned ready meals. The ready meals market across the U.S. and Europe has grown in the recent years. Frozen meals account for majority of the overall ready meal sales in Europe and the U.S. In addition, these products have greater shelf life and better value than chilled products. Despite the negative health perception, consumers’ increasing need for convenience is driving growth in the ready meals market. Over one-fifth of the world’s internet users purchase ready-to-eat meals rather than preparing traditional meals. Increasing need to preserve product shelf life, taste, texture, product quality, color and the vitamin content, from production to consumption, has motivated vendors to innovate new packaging designs that preserve the characteristics of the final products. Therefore, vendors have been working jointly with packaging manufacturers to stay competitive in the market.
Some of the major participants in the global ready meals market include H.J. Heinz Company, ConAgra Foods Inc., Nestle S.A., Kerry Foods Ltd, Greencore Group PLC, Bakkavor Foods Ltd. and Premier Foods.
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