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Incidence Of Buying Ready Meals
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Incidence Of Buying Ready Meals

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  • 1. Ready Meals - US - July 2009 Incidence of Buying Ready Meals Key points ● Nearly eight in 10 (78%) respondents to [Data]’s proprietary survey indicated that they had purchased a frozen ready meal other than pizza in the six months prior to taking the survey. By contrast, 61% reported using some type of shelf-stable meal and another 61% reported purchasing a refrigerated meal in the six months prior to taking the survey. ● American fare, Italian, Mexican, Chinese or Japanese cuisines represent the type of ready meals that are most popular. Not surprisingly, American is the most popular type of ready meal among respondents to [Data]’s proprietary survey. ● Young adults, households with children under age 18 and respondents from households with incomes of $75K+ were also somewhat more likely to report using ready meals. Frozen meals, especially those made with American, Italian, and Mexican cuisines, are in high demand In the Brand Share sections, it was shown repeatedly that the products and brands that perform well are foods that reflect popular tastes. It was also shown that FDMx sales of frozen meals are much higher than those of refrigerated and shelf-stable meals. The following survey data also support the contention that the frozen segment is dominant. The reason for this difference appears to be a product of the fact that there are generally more frozen products on the market and they are far more likely to be formulations that can be used for a complete meal. Shelf-stable products, on the other hand, tend to be side dishes or meal elements. There is some indication, however, that a significant number of consumers are interested in eating more refrigerated ready meals made with fresh ingredients and minimal processing. This is an opportunity that is likely to be capitalized upon in the future by retailers that are seeking to capture a larger share of the ready meals market. Whole Foods Market, for instance, sells a variety of premium ready meals as well as marinated meats and other fresh products that require only minimal preparation. These meals are similar to some of the popular meals being sold in the UK, where growth of chilled meals has been strong in recent years. It should also be noted that among [Data]’s survey respondents, diet frozen meals are somewhat more popular than those that are simply nutritionally balanced. This reflects the fact that such meals are sometimes used as part of portion control efforts—especially among middle-class and affluent women—and are sometimes designed specifically to be used along with dieting programs (eg, Weight Watchers).
  • 2. FIGURE 38: Incidence of buying ready meals, by origin and type of meal, by frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable, April 2009 Refrigerated Frozen Shelf-stable Base: Adults aged 18+ with 2,000 2,000 2,000 internet access % % % Origin of meal: American fare 20 39 21 Italian 10 29 14 Mexican 9 21 8 Chinese or Japanese 8 18 7 Indian 4 6 3 Thai 4 7 3 Type of meal: Any premium ready meal 10 19 6 Any nutritionally 7 16 7 balanced/healthier eating (but not diet) ready meal Any diet/low-calorie/low-fat 6 21 5 ready meal Any other ethnic ready meal 5 7 4 Any vegetarian or vegan meal 5 10 3 I haven’t purchased this type of 25 15 21 ready meal in the last six months I never buy this type of ready 39 22 39 meal SOURCE: [Data] Incidence of buying refrigerated ready meals One key theme in the demographic analysis that follows is the fact that young adults are somewhat more likely to report purchasing ready meals. Part of this appears to be a product of the fact that young adults often have lower incomes than their older counterparts, and many live alone and have no need to cook for children or other household members. Taken together, these factors make frozen meals a cost- effective option. Many young adults also do not have the same health concerns as their older counterparts and thus may scrutinize foods less and be more willing to consume meals that have relatively high levels of saturated fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol. This may explain part of why they are often more inclined to eat, for instance, refrigerated ready meals. A lack of cooking skills is another factor that helps to explain the higher incidence of use among young adults. Overall, these data indicate that advertisements and communications should be targeted in part to young adults. Some companies may also want to consider engaging in marketing efforts for college campuses and/or online communities such
  • 3. as Facebook where large numbers of young adults congregate. It should also be noted, as indicated in a table included in the Appendix, that affluents (i.e., respondents with incomes of $100K+) are generally more likely to report purchasing ready meals. Affluents tend to be more health-oriented than the working class and that helps to explain why growth in FDMx sales is driven in large part by sales of better-for-you products. FIGURE 39: Incidence of buying refrigerated ready meals, by origin and type of meal, by age, April 2009 Base: 2,000 adults aged 18+ with internet access All 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ % % % % % % % Origin of meal: American fare 20 27 26 19 15 19 14 Italian 10 14 14 11 8 7 8 Mexican 9 18 13 8 5 8 5 Chinese or Japanese 8 14 11 6 6 5 4 Indian 4 7 8 5 2 1 1 Thai 4 9 8 3 2 2 1 Type of meal: Any premium ready 10 15 12 10 9 9 9 meal Any nutritionally 7 11 11 8 5 4 5 balanced/healthier eating (but not diet) ready meal Any diet/low- 6 9 9 7 5 4 3 calorie/low-fat ready meal Any other ethnic ready 5 8 8 5 2 3 2 meal Any vegetarian or 5 8 7 6 2 3 3 vegan meal I haven’t purchased this 25 22 24 27 30 25 21 type of ready meal in the last six months I never buy this type of 39 28 32 37 40 42 51 ready meal SOURCE: [Data] Another key theme of the demographic analysis is that households with children under age 18 are significantly more likely to purchase ready meals when compared with those who do not have children in their care. As shown in the following Figure, the difference in incidence of use of refrigerated products between the two groups is quite pronounced. This indicates that families, like young adults, are an important element of the target
  • 4. market. The finding also demonstrates that companies should consider creating more formulations that are appropriate for small families rather than focusing all developmental efforts primarily on single-serve options. The popularity of products that are designed specifically for children, like Lunchables, helps to explain the popularity and higher incidence of purchase among respondents with kids. Better-for-you formulations that have packaging designed specifically to appeal to kids could become more popular in the future. This is an underdeveloped sub- segment that companies can exploit in the search for growth and favorable brand positioning. FIGURE 40: Incidence of buying refrigerated ready meals, by origin and type of meal, by presence of children, April 2009 Base: 2,000 adults aged 18+ with internet access All No children 1 child under under 18 in 18 in household household % % % Origin of meal: American fare 20 17 26 Mexican 9 7 14 Italian 10 8 12 Chinese or Japanese 8 6 11 Indian 4 3 6 Thai 4 3 6 Type of meal: Any other ethnic ready meal 5 3 6 Any vegetarian or vegan meal 5 4 6 Any premium ready meal 10 9 14 Any diet/low-calorie/low-fat 6 5 7 ready meal Any nutritionally 7 6 11 balanced/healthier eating (but not diet) ready meal I haven’t purchased this type 25 27 22 of ready meal in the last six months I never buy this type of ready 39 43 30 meal SOURCE: [Data] Incidence of buying frozen ready meals The demographic differences in incidence of purchasing refrigerated meals are very similar to those observed in the frozen meals segment. Because affluent consumers typically report being more health-oriented than the working class, the finding indicates that companies should continue to develop and refine their better-for-you
  • 5. products, as this subcategory is likely to continue driving growth. Note that respondents, especially affluents, were somewhat more likely to report purchasing “diet” frozen meals when compared with those that are premium or nutritionally balanced but not specifically “diet.” This is another indication that ready meals are often used to facilitate portion control. The finding also indicates that manufacturers may want to consider partnering with providers of weight loss products. Alternatively, a company could consider creating its own program and pair the offering with access to a website that provides tips on what type of lifestyle changes are generally necessary to “keep off those extra pounds.” Exercise guidelines and an online support forum could also be included with such a site to add value to the product and brand. Overall, however, the analysis indicates that many users who purchase products to help them lose weight or maintain a healthy weight are also seeking better nutrition. This will favor products that are low in calories, high in fiber and also provide an ample amount of protein and essential nutrients and vitamins. FIGURE 41: Incidence of buying frozen ready meals, by origin and type of meal, by household income, April 2009 Base: 2,000 adults aged 18+ with internet access All <$25K $25K- $50K- $75K- $100K $150K 49.9K 74.9K 99.9K -149.9 + K % % % % % % % Origin of meal: American fare 39 38 37 35 44 45 48 Mexican 21 18 18 18 20 32 26 Italian 29 24 23 32 32 37 39 Chinese or Japanese 18 18 15 15 18 26 22 Indian 6 6 5 5 6 6 8 Thai 7 8 5 5 9 7 12 Type of meal: Any other ethnic ready 7 9 7 4 7 8 14 meal Any vegetarian or 10 10 8 9 8 11 12 vegan meal Any premium ready 19 19 19 19 17 23 17 meal Any diet/low- 21 17 19 18 18 33 28 calorie/low-fat ready meal Any nutritionally 16 17 14 14 15 24 17 balanced/healthier eating (but not diet) ready meal
  • 6. I haven’t purchased 15 14 19 16 12 11 8 this type of ready meal in the last six months I never buy this type 22 28 20 21 24 19 21 of ready meal SOURCE: [Data] Incidence of buying shelf-stable ready meals Consistent with the findings reported above, the incidence of purchasing shelf-stable meals is also higher among young adults. Once again, this indicates that marketing and product development efforts should focus in part on young adults. In order to gain a competitive edge, some companies may want to consider hiring popular music stars to endorse or promote their products in materials targeted to this population. FIGURE 42: Incidence of buying shelf-stable ready meals, by origin and type of meal, by age, April 2009 Base: 2,000 adults aged 18+ with internet access All 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ % % % % % % % Origin of meal: American fare 21 26 24 23 20 18 13 Mexican 8 13 11 8 8 5 4 Italian 14 18 18 19 13 9 6 Chinese or Japanese 7 10 10 7 5 6 4 Indian 3 8 4 3 2 2 1 Thai 3 8 6 3 2 1 1 Type of meal: Any other ethnic ready 4 7 6 3 3 2 2 meal Any vegetarian or 3 7 6 3 2 2 2 vegan meal Any premium ready 6 10 7 6 7 3 5 meal Any diet/low- 5 8 7 5 5 3 3 calorie/low-fat ready meal Any nutritionally 7 12 7 6 6 5 4 balanced/healthier eating (but not diet) ready meal I haven’t purchased 21 20 18 19 23 24 21 this type of ready meal in the last six months I never buy this type of 39 25 34 36 40 47 50 ready meal
  • 7. SOURCE: [Data] Households with children under 18 are also more likely to purchase various types of shelf-stable meals, and thus this is another segment that companies should focus upon when developing new products and communications. It also underscores the fact that there is a significant demand for products designed specifically for children. FIGURE 43: Incidence of buying shelf-stable ready meals, by origin and type of meal, by presence of children, April 2009 Base: 2,000 adults aged 18+ with internet access All No children 1 child 2+ children under 18 in under 18 in under 18 in household household household % % % % Origin of meal: American fare 21 17 27 27 Mexican 8 6 14 12 Italian 14 11 19 21 Chinese or Japanese 7 6 8 11 Indian 3 2 6 5 Thai 3 2 5 6 Type of meal: Any other ethnic ready 4 3 6 6 meal Any vegetarian or vegan 3 2 4 6 meal Any premium ready meal 6 5 9 10 Any diet/low-calorie/low-fat 5 4 6 9 ready meal Any nutritionally balanced/ 7 5 9 10 healthier eating (but not diet) ready meal I haven’t purchased this 21 23 20 16 type of ready meal in the last six months I never buy this type of 39 45 27 27 ready meal SOURCE: [Data]