The UK prepared meals market is forecast to grow to £5.6 billion by 2019. The industry has benefited from trends towards smaller households and rising weekly hours of work, which prompted consumers to opt for time-saving and convenient food products over fresh ingredients. Premiumisation has been a trend influencing NPD in the prepared meals market for a number of years, with efforts made to bolster the quality image of prepared meals in order to make them more appealing as an alternative to eating out.
Charlie Bigham’s, which is notable for its premium positioning, is the rising star within the chilled ready meals market. The range is produced in small batches using fresh ingredients. This success highlights consumers’ willingness to pay more for an upmarket and high-quality product. This signals demand for products that deliver on quality, which will be likely to grow as the pressure on real incomes eases and consumer spending gathers momentum.
Future NPD may well concentrate on healthiness. Three in 10 adults in the UK agree that the choice of healthy ready meals is too limited. Also, the popularity of scratch cooking is one of the biggest barriers for the category, with four in 10 adults cooking from scratch most days. There is an opportunity to give consumers a greater sense of involvement in the cooking process, bridging the gap between prepared meals and scratch cooking.
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