The global ready-to-eat meals market has exhibited significant growth since 2020, with a rising consumer preference for convenience and quality. In 2023, the global market valuation reached $383.93 billion and is anticipated to surpass $488 billion by 2028 with a CAGR of 5%. The European market forms a considerable segment of this industry; in 2023, it was valued at $85.65 billion and it's expected to exceed $100 billion by 2028. 

Italian Market Demand for Ready-to-Eat Meals: A Deep Dive into Preferences and Trends

In the ever-evolving landscape of Italy's consumer packaged goods industry, ready-to-eat meals are not only one of the largest segments but are also one of the most dynamically changing ones. This is clearly reflected in the substantial growth of sales within the large-scale retail sector, rising by an impressive 45.7% from 2017 to 2022, an indication of the increasing reliance on the convenience that these meals provide. Particularly between 2020 and 2021, the sector witnessed a remarkable spike in sales by over 20%, which accounts for almost half of the growth observed over the five years. It's interesting to note that while consumers in Italy have been showing a significant preference for ethnic ready meals, oriental dishes are leading the demand at 51% of the market. African and Mexican cuisines follow suit with 23% and approximately 14-15% respectively. It's the younger demographic that's primarily driving this trend, showcasing a curiosity and global palate that's eager to explore a diverse range of culinary flavors. Another crucial aspect steering demand is the emphasis on quality. Italian consumers have been leaning towards ready meals that guarantee not just appetizing taste profiles but also deliver on health benefits.

There is a growing appreciation for high-quality ingredients, particularly those that are locally or regionally sourced. Sustainability in production and packaging, along with dietary considerations such as organic, "free from," functional, and natural choices, have influenced the introduction of a myriad of products in the market. With the convenience of a meal that's quick to prepare, these offerings are often described as the bridge between fast food and home cooking. Consumers have been leaning particularly towards offerings such as fresh and frozen varieties, which have seen substantial volume growth in recent years. Despite this rise in consumer demand, it's interesting to note that the turnover of Italian companies producing only ready-to-eat meals has been on a decline by about 2-3%. This indicates a growing dominance of larger Italian and foreign agribusiness companies within this market segment. Demand trends in Italy also reflect an increased interest in healthy eating. This is evidenced by a growing attentive towards products with balanced nutritional content and single-serving options that help manage portions. Such trends indicate a market that is not only expanding but also evolving with consumer preferences that prioritize convenience, quality, and health.

Key Players Shaping the Italian Ready-to-eat Meals Market

The Italian market for ready-to-eat meals is a vibrant industry, with a variety of players contributing to its growth and innovation. These companies, ranging from manufacturing giants to retail leaders, each hold significant influence in the ready-to-eat sector. Their contributions have shaped the tastes and preferences of Italian consumers, and their commitment to quality reinforces Italy's reputation for fine dining, even in the convenience market.

  • Italpizza S.p.A: A standout in the art of frozen pizza, Italpizza has earned its place among the top ranks by mastering the blend of artisanal tradition and large-scale production. Since its foundation in 1991, the company has embraced an approach that emphasizes the Italian pizza experience, combining slow leavening dough, manual crafting, and wood oven baking, catering to both the domestic and international markets.
  • Piatti Freschi Italia S.p.A: A joint venture brought to life by Fleury Michon and Fratelli Beretta, Piatti Freschi Italia exemplifies the fusion of French and Italian culinary mastery. Ensconced in the fresh ready meals and snacks niche, their 2017 acquisition of SGI- Sapori e Gusto Italiani srl further expanded their gastronomic horizons, adding seafood and fresh pasta to their already rich portfolio.
  • Paren S.r.l: Integrated into the Rolli Industre Group, Paren specializes in a plethora of frozen delicacies. Whether it's ready meals or pizzas, this Noceto-based enterprise has carved out its space in both domestic and foreign markets, backed by a firm commitment to quality standards and safety accreditations.
  • Società Italiana Alimenti S.p.A: Boasting more than half a century in the agri-food sector, this enterprise prides itself on its vast, state-of-the-art infrastructure that allows it to innovate in the provision of ready meals across Italy. With specialized lines for food service professionals, this company transcends the regular B2C model, presenting solutions for the professional kitchen as well.
  • La Linea Verde Società Agricola S.p.A (Dimmidisi): As an entity that stands at the forefront of the fresh ready-to-eat market, Dimmidisi enriches the Italian food landscape with a spectrum of fresh, nutritious, and convenient food selections that speak directly to the hearts of health-conscious and time-strapped Italians.
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  • Last update : 03/11/2023
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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 Definition and presentation

Ready-to-eat meals are defined as those dishes that do not require any preparation to be consumed, or whose preparation requires minimal time. They can be found in different formats: canned, packaged, vacuum-packed or frozen. They are distributed in mass or specialty stores and allow people to eat in a short time, avoiding cooking time concerns.

Currently, the market is expanding, with quantitative and qualitative diversification of recipes-and the ingredients used-to satisfy new market segments that focus on quality requirements. The production chain also tends to be more complex, with distributors beginning to produce their own products and with innovative companies emerging in the industry in an effort to dislodge the established hierarchy.

The global market is booming. I ready meals are attractive because they offer a quick and convenient way to consume food, while they are also seen as more attractive due to the relative freshness of ingredients compared to, for example, frozen foods. In 2023, the global market for ready-to-eat meals is estimated at $383.93 billion and is expected to reach and exceed $488 billion by 2028 thanks to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%.

The European segment of the market is one of the most important. In 2023, the market on this continent reached a total value of $85.65 billion and is expected to exceed $100 billion by 2028.

In Italy, the market for ready meals, both fresh and frozen, has seen volume growth in recent years, dictated by their convenience and their new healthy connotations (e.g., organic, low-salt, fat-free or palm oil-free). However, in the face of a 45.7% growth in the value of large-scale retail sales, the turnover of Italian companies producing only ready-to-eat meals has been declining in recent years (-2.9%). This indicates an increasingly important presence of large Italian and foreign agribusiness companies (Knor, Frosta, Bonduelle).

1.2 A growing global market

In ****, the global ready-to-eat meals market reached a value of $*** billion. Between **** and ****, a compound annual growth rate (***) of *% is expected, thanks to which the market could touch a total value of nearly $*** billion.

Global ready-to-eat meals market estimate World, ****-****, in billions of euros Source: Grand view research The European ...

1.3 The Italian market

It can be described as an exceptional dynamism that, in recent years, is characterizing the world of ready meals within the consumer packaged goods industry. The ready meal is increasingly being experienced as a meal within the home, thanks to the possibility of giving variety to the menu and the service ...

1.4 The consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

The outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in February **** led to, among other things, a general increase in the consumer price index. The sector of meals and ready meals is not exempt from this increase. Through the analysis of the consumer price index for ready meals, it is possible to show an ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Demand in Italy

In order to analyze the demand for ready meals in Italy, annual household spending on the purchase of ready meals is first considered. Between **** and ****, the average household expenditure appears to be growing, rising from **.* euros per year to almost ** euros per year (***). The growth appears to be steady throughout the ...

2.2 Demand drivers

Key demand drivers include:

Convenience: in an increasingly hectic and busy society, convenience becomes a key factor driving demand for ready meals. These products offer a quick and easy solution for meals, reducing the time and effort required for food preparation. The ability to have a meal ready in minutes is ...

2.3 Geographical distribution of demand

In order to analyze the geographical distiribution of demand, a map was created with the average monthly expenditure of Italian households on ready meals. In the absence of more precise data, the breakdown is by Italian macro-region (***).

Demand appears to be extremely uneven along the peninsula. The North clearly leads the ...

2.4 New demand trends: new flavors and quality

**** shows a growing trend toward preference for ethnic ready meals and the importance of quality in ready meals in Italy.

Preference for ethnic ready meals: interest in ethnic ready meals is growing in Italy, with a particular preference for oriental dishes accounting for **% of the market, followed by African (***) dishes. This ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Market structure

To analyze the structure of the Italian market for ready meals, companies under Ateco Code **.** "Production of meals and prepared dishes" are considered. In particular, the number of enterprises active in the sector, the number of employees and the legal form of enterprises will be highlighted. In addition, a brief analysis ...

3.2 Value chain

An overview of the convenience food value chain is summarized below.

Source: ****

3.3 The main manufacturers

The following are some of the leading meal and ready meal producers in Italy:

Italpizza s.p.a: founded in ****, it has established itself as one of the main co-producers for the most important international retailers, positioning itself as a reference point in the premium frozen pizza segment. With more than ...

3.4 The distribution

As for the number of active enterprises in the non-specialized retail sector (***), in **** these are **,***. Of the total, **.*% are minimarkets, **.*% are supermarkets, *.*% are discount stores, and only *.*% are hypermarkets. Number of enterprises in the sector: Retail trade in non-specialized establishments (***) Italy, ****, in numbers. Istat regarding the distribution of ready meals, large-scale ...

4 Supply analysis

4.1 Structure of the offer

Ready meals are pre-cooked or pre-cooked food preparations that require little or no additional culinary intervention before consumption. They provide a quick and practical solution for those who do not have the time or ability to prepare meals from scratch. Prepared meals can be categorized by method of preservation, by type ...

4.2 The prices

The following is a list of some dishes and ready meals available in the Italian market:

4.3 New supply trends: entic and vegetarian dishes

Recent changes in the supply of ready-to-eat dishes and meals substantially reflect trends in the more general food and beverage sector. Two of the main trends are moving in the direction of increasingly ethnic and vegetarian dishes. An analysis of these two emerging segments is offered below:

Ethnic dishes: the trend ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 The legislation

he market for ready meals, as with many other food products, is regulated by various laws and regulations at both the national and European levels. These laws are concerned with ensuring the quality, food safety and origin of the product. Some of the main laws and regulations for the ready meals ...

6 Positioning of actors

6.1 Segmentation



  • Italpizza
  • Dimmidisi (La Linea Verde Società Agricola s.p.a)
  • Società Italiana Alimenti s.p.a
  • Paren s.r.l
  • Conad
  • Carrefour Italia
  • Lidl

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Latest news

Italpizza acquires from Nestlé the plant in Caudry, France, where the Buitoni-branded Fraich'up frozen pizza was produced - 06/02/2024
  • **Founded**: 1991
  • **Location**: Modena, Italy
  • **Ownership**: Controlled by Cristian Pederzini through the holding company Dream Foods srl.
  • **Recent Acquisitions**:
    • Pizza Artesana Malgrat (Oct. 17, 2022)
    • Mantua Surgelati (2022)
    • Antico Forno a Legna (November 2020)
    • Caudry Plant, France (from Nestlé Group, date not specified)
  • **Investments**:
    • Issuance of a €20 million minibond in March 2021, underwritten by Unicredit and 70% guaranteed by Sace
    • Investment of more than €12 million for the modernization of the Caudry plant (2024-2028)
    • Investment of about €5 million in the Antico Forno a Legna plant
  • **Turnover**: - Nearly 400 million euros, with 60% coming from foreign markets
  • Details 2022:
    • nearly 200 million euros, with 60% from foreign markets in 54 countries
    • **EBITDA** (2022): 8.3 million euros
    • **Net financial debt** (2022): 16.7 million euros
    • **Operating data**: - More than 1,700 employees - Annual production capacity of 435 million pizzas
  • Industrial presence in Europe with 6 plants supplying customers in 60 countries
  • Target of hiring about 140 employees by 2028 for the Caudry plant
  • **Strategies and objectives**: - Internationalization and strengthening of industrial presence in Europe, especially in Northern Europe and the United Kingdom - Reduction of logistics costs and rationalization of production to increase production capacity

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Dimmidisi (La Linea Verde Società Agricola s.p.a)
Società Italiana Alimenti s.p.a
Paren s.r.l
Carrefour Italia

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