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MARKET SUMMARY

1.1 Definition and presentation

Ready meals are dishes that only need to be heated, or poorly prepared, before being consumed. They can be found in different formats: canned, vacuum-packed or frozen. These ready-to-eat products are distributed in mass stores or small local stores and allow eating easily, avoiding concerns related to spending time cooking. 

Today we are witnessing a quantitative and qualitative diversification of recipes - and of the ingredients used - in order to satisfy new market segments that focus on quality requirements. The production chain also tends to be more complex, with distributors starting to manufacture their own products and with the emergence of these young companies producing ready-made meals, in an attempt to stir the established hierarchy.

The global market is booming. Divided per segment, we find that sales revenue in 2019 was the highest for frozen ready meals, followed by chilled ready meals, and prepared salads. The product offer continues to evolve to cater the needs of different customer types and to meet new trends around food, such as healthiness. Moreover, ready meals are appealing as they offer a fast and convenient way of consuming food, whilst they are also viewed as more appealing due to the relative freshness of ingredients compared to for example frozen foods.

Additionally, the global market is fragmented with many market players. Indeed, the three largest companies (Nestlé, Kraft Heinz Co, and ConAgra Brands) held 12.7% of the total market share in 2019.

In Italy, the market for ready meals, both fresh and frozen, has seen a growth in volume in recent years, dictated by their convenience and the progressive perceived healthiness of the food (e.g. organic, with low content of salt, no fat or palm oil). The threat around ready-made meals, in fact, is that they are considered unhealthy by the population, and the market will have to overcome this vision to continue to evolve.

 

1.2 A Growing Global Market

Frozen and chilled meals accounted for half of the ready-to-eat meals market in ****, and are expected to maintain their lead over the forecast period (***) thanks to a wide range of products with a long shelf life. Frozen pizza is the most popular frozen ready meal, contributing significantly to world income. Canned ...

1.3 Ready2Eat is a Fast-growing Trend in Italy

Ready*Eat is a fast-growing trend, as evidenced by Nielsen data for the first half of ****. In fact, there was a *.*% increase in value sales compared to the same period of the previous year, for a turnover in the sector of around *.* billion euros. These are important figures, but they are ...

1.4 COVID-19 Impact

Increasingly creative, healthy and perfectionist: this is the portrait of Italians in the kitchen in times of pandemic, according to a survey conducted in recent weeks by Fly Research for Mastercard.

The study, which highlighted the eating habits of the COVID-** era, reveals that in the last year, also due to ...

DEMAND ANALYSIS

2.1 The Time Italians dedicate to cooking as a Demand Driver

Italians like ready-made or quick to prepare, protein and sustainable. These are the latest food trends highlighted by the **** Coop Report, which analyzed consumption and lifestyles in the Peninsula. The survey shows that in ** years the time spent behind the stove has been halved, mainly due to an increasingly hectic pace ...

2.2 The Preferences of Italian Consumers

In short, as it emerged from the Coop Report in ****, Italians prefer fresh products, foods linked to health and personal wellbeing, and also products capable of ensuring a greater service content in terms of time savings (***) are growing. The latter segment includes ready-to-eat products. 

Across the various product areas, products with ...

2.3 Breakdown of the Demand for Ready to Eat Meals

The two main categories of ready-to-eat meals which can be identified are frozen ready-to-eat meals and fresh ready-to-eat meals. In this section, we are going to analyze a bit more in-depth the consumption preferences of Italian customers for these two different categories in order to better understand the characteristics of the ...

2.4 Consumption Is Lead by the North

Geographic Distribution of the sales weight of Ready to Eat Meals, by macro-region

Italy, ****, in %

Source: ****

As it is visible from the map, northern regions of the country present a much higher tendency to consume ready-to-eat meals than southern ones. In particular, in the north-western regions of Italy, the sales of ...

MARKET STRUCTURE

3.1 Market Dynamics and Competition Channels

Currently, the dynamism of the ready-to-eat meals category is determined by the novelty effect, with many brand companies that have entered the business with innovative proposals that stimulate the curiosity of the consumer, developing on one hand traditional recipes and on the other hand meeting the health trend (***). The competitive landscape ...

3.2 R2E Value Chain

Source: ****

3.3 Turnover of the Main Private Labels

The main players of the sector of the RTE food can be divided into two categories: main Italian and international supermarkets, producing their own ready-to-eat products and other companies, which produce their own private specialized labels.Examples of the first one are Coop, Esselunga, and Conad, while private labels include Bonduelle, ...

3.4 Alternative Applications

Other than individuals and households, ready to eat meals are used in two other main contexts and can thus have two other applications:

Employment in catering

The use of fresh refrigerated ready meals in Italian catering is still marginal, despite the potential advantages in terms of cost of the finished product, ...

ANALYSIS OF THE OFFER

4.1 Structure of the Offer

This food category has a wide range of products. Their classification is made, according to the preservation mode, in frozen, refrigerated and room temperature ready meals. Frozen ready meals, at points of sale, are placed in deep freezers at a temperature of at least -**° C, a temperature which also varies ...

4.2 Production Processes

All cooked dishes adhere to the same production pattern, which can be summarized by the following steps:

Research and development: The brand determines its marketing orientation, takes into account consumer expectations, studies competitor demand and then determines the specifications that the developed product must meet. Focus: A sometimes renowned chef is ...

4.3 Pricing

The following graph shows the evolution of consumer prices across * years, based on ****=***. As the graph outlines, the prices have been slowly increasing, going from **.* in **** to ***.* in ****. This evolution is complementary with the rise in demand that has been recorded across the same years.

Consumer price index of ready to ...

4.4 The new Frontier of Ready to Eat: Micvac

In ****, for the first time, it arrived from Sweden the revolutionary Micvac system for the preparation of microwave pasteurized ready to eat meals, exclusively distributed in Italy by Lazzari Packaging.

Micvac fits precisely into the market segment of ready to eat meals. "It is a modern and simple production method: in ...

4.5 Other New Trends in the Offer

The Wellness Effect

Fresh vegetarian ready meals are on a positive growth trend (***), and reached ** million euros in ****, after a two-year period of a sharp slowdown. This is due to the new proposals, focused on an experience of taste and pleasure, and to the launch of the Findus Green Cuisine line, ...

RULES AND REGULATIONS

5.1 An Overview of the Regulation of RTE Products

The main concern regarding RTE food is hygiene. There are already more than ** regulations, including main texts, corrections, and amendments. The following regulations have been selected and are indispensable:

-  EC Reg. ***/**** , on the principles and requirements of food law and traceability

-  Reg. ***/**** EC , on the hygiene of foodstuffs

- ...

5.2 Microbiology and labels

The chemical part must be divided into:

inhibitors defined in EC Reg. ****/**** (***); the aflatoxins with Reg. ***/**** EC on sampling plans, Reg. ***/**** EC on the limits of aflatoxins, remain current for mycotoxins Reg. ***/**** EC (***) and Reg. ****/**** EC for the limits; the reference for dioxins is still Reg. ****/**** EC; for residues of pesticides, ...

5.3 Rules for the production areas of ready to eat foods

Many of these rules must be respected regardless of whether ready to eat foods are produced on the plant or not. Obviously, however, their respect becomes really mandatory when producing ready to eat foods that are identified as having a high risk of pathogen development.

In order to deepen the matter ...

POSITIONING OF THE ACTORS

6.1 Segmentation

  • Bonduelle Italia
  • La Linea Verde Italia
  • Rana (Groupe Giovanni Rana)
  • Coop
  • Conad
  • Cameo
  • Piatti Freschi Italia

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in 40 pages
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Analysts

Hugo Schott

chargé d'études économiques, Xerfi

Hugo Schott

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Mathieu Luinaud

Associate Consultant

Mathieu Luinaud

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Education Formation
Robin C.

PhD Industrial transformations

Robin C.

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Pierre D.

Analyst

Pierre D.

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Arnaud W.
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Ross Alumni Club France

Arnaud W.

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Amaury de Balincourt
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Analyste de marché chez Businesscoot

Amaury de Balincourt

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Pierrick C.

Consultant

Pierrick C.

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Maelle V.

Project Finance Analyst, Consulting

Maelle V.

Héloise Fruchard

Etudiante en Double-Diplôme Ingénieur-Manager Centrale

Héloise Fruchard

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Imane Essadiq

EDHEC

Imane Essadiq

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Vincent D.

Auditeur

Vincent D.

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Eva-Garance T.

Eva-Garance T.

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Michela G.

Market Research Analyst

Michela G.

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Azelie P.

Market Research Analyst @Businesscoot

Azelie P.

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Cantiane G.

Market Research Analyst @Businesscoot

Cantiane G.

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Jules D.

Consultant

Jules D.

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Alexia V.

Alexia V.

Emil Ohlsson

Emil Ohlsson

Anna O.

Anna O.

Gabriel S.

Gabriel S.