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 to eat easily, avoiding concerns related to home 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.
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.
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