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Ready-to-Eat Food Market

Market Study on Ready-to-Eat Food: Growing Trend of Plant-Based and Sustainable Food Options, PMR Foresees Various Opportunities for Ready-to-Eat Food Manufacturers on the Horizon

A Detailed Analysis of the Ready-to-Eat Food Market Based on Increased Urbanization and a Higher Prevalence of Dual-Income Households

Ready-to-Eat Food Market

The global Ready-to-Eat Food market is forecast to expand at a CAGR of 8.6% and thereby increase from a value of US$0.49 billion in 2023 to US$0.87 billion by the end of 2030.

Attributes

Key Insights

Ready-to-Eat Food Market Size (2023E)

US$0.49 Billion

Projected Market Value (2030F)

US$0.87 Billion

Global Market Growth Rate (CAGR 2023 to 2030)

8.6%

Historical Market Growth Rate (CAGR 2018 to 2022)

8.2%

Revenue Share of Top Four Countries (2022E)

48%

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Market Introduction and Definition

Ready-to-eat (RTE) food is a category of meals or snacks that are prepared and packaged in a manner that allows for immediate consumption without the need for additional cooking or preparation. This market has witnessed substantial growth due to the evolving consumer landscape characterized by hectic lifestyles and rising demand for convenient yet nutritious food options. RTE food finds applications across diverse segments, ranging from breakfast items like cereal bars to salads, sandwiches, and microwavable entrees. The appeal of RTE food lies in its ability to cater to the modern consumer's desire for time-efficient, hassle-free meal solutions.

The benefits of RTE food are manifold. Firstly, there is a notable emphasis on convenience, as these products offer a quick and easy solution for individuals with busy schedules. Secondly, they provide time efficiency, eliminating the need for extensive cooking or meal preparation. Additionally, RTE foods often boast portability, making them ideal for on-the-go consumption, whether at work, during travel, or in other situations where traditional meal preparation may not be feasible. The driving factors propelling the RTE food market include shifting consumer preferences, urbanization trends, and the prevalence of dual-income households. As consumers increasingly prioritize convenience without sacrificing nutritional value and taste, the RTE food market is poised for sustained growth. The evolution of eating habits, coupled with the need for products that align with contemporary lifestyles, positions the RTE food market as a significant player in shaping the future of the food industry.

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Market Growth Drivers

Increased Urbanization and a Higher Prevalence of Dual-Income Households

The Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market is the global shift in consumer lifestyles towards increased urbanization and a higher prevalence of dual-income households. This socio-economic trend has significantly impacted dietary habits, leading to a surge in demand for convenient and time-saving food solutions. Urbanization has led to a fast-paced lifestyle, characterized by long working hours and increased commute times, leaving individuals with limited time and energy for elaborate meal preparation. As people migrate to urban centers in search of better economic opportunities, there is a growing reliance on convenient food options that require minimal effort. RTE Food caters precisely to this need, offering a quick and efficient solution for consumers seeking a balance between their busy schedules and nutritional requirements.

Furthermore, the rise of dual-income households, where both partners are employed, has contributed to a decrease in the time available for cooking. With both individuals in a household actively engaged in professional pursuits, there is a higher demand for ready-to-eat meals that provide a convenient and time-efficient way to meet dietary needs. RTE food products align seamlessly with the lifestyle preferences of dual-income households, offering a practical solution to ensure a balance between work and personal life.

Concern Regarding the Nutritional Content and Health Implications of Processed Foods

The increasing awareness and concern among consumers regarding the nutritional content and health implications of processed and convenience foods. As health consciousness rises, there is a growing demand for fresh, minimally processed, and natural food options. RTE foods, often associated with higher levels of preservatives, additives, and sodium, may face resistance from consumers who prioritize a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, there is a discerning consumer base that values transparency in food sourcing and production methods. The perception that RTE foods may compromise on quality or nutritional value compared to freshly prepared meals can act as a deterrent. As a result, manufacturers in the RTE food industry must navigate this challenge by addressing nutritional concerns, improving ingredient transparency, and innovating to meet the evolving preferences of health-conscious consumers.

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Market Restraints

Intensifying Competition and The Need for Continuous Innovation

The intensifying competition and the need for continuous innovation are hindering the market growth. As the market expands, numerous players enter, leading to increased competition for market share. This poses challenges for existing RTE food manufacturers to differentiate their products and maintain consumer loyalty. Additionally, rapid changes in consumer preferences and the emergence of new trends necessitate constant innovation to stay relevant. Meeting evolving dietary demands, addressing health concerns, and adapting to sustainability expectations require substantial investments in research and development. The competitive landscape and the dynamic nature of consumer preferences make it challenging for RTE food market players to sustain growth without a proactive approach to innovation and differentiation.

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Opportunities

Growing Trend of Plant-Based and Sustainable Food Options

Capitalizing on the growing trend of plant-based and sustainable food options provides an opportunity for market growth. As consumer awareness of environmental impact and health benefits continues to rise, there is a significant market potential for RTE food manufacturers to expand their product offerings with a focus on plant-based and sustainable alternatives. One strategic avenue for increasing revenue lies in the development and promotion of plant-based RTE food products. Plant-based diets are gaining popularity globally due to concerns related to environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and personal health. By introducing innovative and flavorful plant-based options, RTE food manufacturers can tap into a burgeoning market segment and cater to the preferences of a growing number of consumers adopting vegetarian and flexitarian lifestyles.

Companies can invest in research and development to create plant-based RTE options that not only mimic the taste and texture of traditional meat-based products but also offer nutritional benefits. Collaborating with nutritionists and chefs to ensure a balance between taste, convenience, and healthfulness is crucial. Additionally, emphasizing the use of sustainably sourced ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and transparent labeling can further appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Marketing and communication strategies play a pivotal role in the success of this opportunity. Conveying the health and sustainability aspects of plant-based RTE products through advertising, social media, and product labeling can help build trust and attract a broader customer base. Engaging in partnerships with influencers or organizations that align with the values of health and sustainability can also enhance brand credibility and visibility.

Analyst’s Viewpoint

What do our Analysts Predict for the Future of the Ready-to-Eat Food Market?

The Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market is poised for sustained growth and transformative trends. The market's resilience is underscored by the changing dynamics of consumer lifestyles globally. As urbanization accelerates and the pace of life quickens, there is an escalating demand for convenient, time-saving food options. RTE foods, with their inherent ease of consumption and minimal preparation requirements, align perfectly with the needs of modern consumers. Key drivers include the increasing prevalence of dual-income households, where time constraints drive the need for convenient meal solutions. Moreover, the market is witnessing a significant shift in dietary preferences, with a rising inclination toward healthier, plant-based, and sustainable options. This shift reflects a growing awareness among consumers regarding the impact of food choices on personal health and the environment.

Despite its promising trajectory, the RTE food market faces challenges. Consumer concerns regarding the nutritional content, additives, and processing methods in such products necessitate continuous innovation and transparency from manufacturers. Additionally, the market is witnessing heightened competition, compelling companies to differentiate their offerings through novel flavors, healthier ingredients, and environmentally friendly packaging. Looking forward, strategic opportunities lie in the development of plant-based and sustainable RTE options, aligning with the evolving preferences of health-conscious and environmentally aware consumers. Moreover, catering to the online retail channel's growth is crucial, given the increasing reliance on e-commerce platforms for food purchases. Overall, the RTE food market presents a dynamic landscape, where adaptation to changing consumer sentiments and a focus on innovation will be key to long-term success.

Supply-side Dynamics

Several factors, including Advanced Manufacturing Processes and Technology, Ingredient Sourcing and Quality Control, Packaging Innovation, Efficient Distribution Networks, Regulatory Compliance and Food Safety, and Research and Development Initiatives, all contribute to the dynamic and rapid expansion of the global Ready-to-Eat Food market. Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra Brands, General Mills, Kellogg's, Amy's Kitchen, Dr. Oetker, Nomad Foods, Unilever, and Kraft Heinz, are market leaders. The United States, India, and China are among the top three countries producing the majority of Ready-to-Eat (RTE) foods globally. The United States leads due to its mature food industry, innovation capabilities, and high demand for convenient food options. India, with its diverse culinary traditions, caters to a significant market with RTE products reflecting local tastes. China, experiencing rapid urbanization, has a growing consumer base seeking quick and convenient meal solutions. These countries showcase a blend of advanced food processing technologies, extensive distribution networks, and a consumer shift towards time-saving, on-the-go food options, contributing to their prominence in the RTE food production landscape.

In the Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market, market players can adopt several strategic approaches. Firstly, product diversification by introducing new and innovative RTE options, such as plant-based or ethnic cuisines, can cater to evolving consumer preferences. Collaborations with online platforms and enhancing e-commerce presence can expand market reach, tapping into the growing trend of online food shopping. Additionally, investing in marketing and promotional campaigns to highlight the convenience, nutritional value, and sustainability of RTE products can attract a wider consumer base. Leveraging data analytics to understand consumer behavior aids in targeted marketing and personalized offerings. Moreover, forging partnerships with retailers and supermarkets enhances product visibility, ensuring a strong presence on shelves. By aligning with emerging trends and continuously innovating, market players can navigate the competitive landscape and capitalize on the growing demand for convenient, ready-to-consume food solutions, thereby increasing their revenue.

Market Segmentation

Which Product Type Are Expected to Benefit the Most from Revenue Generation?

Extensive Sales for Plant-Based Protein Bowls Due to Increasing Trend of Plant-Based Diets

The Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market is diversified across various product types, including Vegetable-Based, Cereal-Based, Meat/Poultry, and Others. The Vegetable-Based segment encompasses a range of plant-derived RTE options. Among these, salads, vegetable wraps, and plant-based protein bowls are dominating the market. The increasing trend of plant-based diets, driven by health and sustainability concerns, is a key factor behind the dominance of this segment. However, the Meat/Poultry segment is the fastest-growing, propelled by the rising demand for protein-rich and savory RTE options. The convenience of meat and poultry products, coupled with innovations in flavors and preparation methods, is contributing to the accelerated growth of this segment in response to the evolving preferences of consumers seeking convenient and protein-packed meal solutions.

What Packaging Types Will Be Targeted the Most for Revenue?

Highest Percent Share Attributed to Canned Owing to Its Long Shelf Life, Ease of Storage, and Convenience

The Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market is categorized by different packaging types, including Canned, Retort, Frozen or Chilled, and Others. The Canned segment features a variety of RTE products packed in sealed containers, and it currently dominates the market. The dominance of canned packaging can be attributed to its long shelf life, ease of storage, and convenience, making it a preferred choice for consumers seeking durable and portable options. Meanwhile, the Frozen or Chilled segment is the fastest-growing, driven by the increasing demand for freshness and the perception of these products as less processed. The surge in popularity is supported by advancements in freezing technology, ensuring that frozen or chilled RTE items retain their nutritional value and taste, appealing to health-conscious consumers.

Which Distribution Channel to be Focused on the Most Regarding Sales?

Supermarket/Hypermarket Distribution Channel to Widen Footprint Due to Wide Variety Of RTE Options Available

The Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market is segmented by Distribution Channel, featuring Online Stores, Departmental/Convenience Stores, Specialty Stores, Supermarkets/Hypermarkets, and Others. Among these, the Supermarket/Hypermarket segment currently dominates the market. The dominance of this segment is attributed to the wide variety of RTE options available, coupled with the convenience and one-stop shopping experience offered by these large retail outlets. However, the Online Store segment is the fastest-growing, fueled by the increasing trend of online shopping and the convenience it provides to consumers. The ease of browsing through a diverse range of RTE products, coupled with the growing preference for contactless shopping, is propelling the rapid growth of the Online Store segment in the RTE food market.

Top Regional Markets

The Presence of a Well-Established Culture of Convenience and Time Efficiency to Fuel Growth for Easier Market Adoption

North America currently dominates the Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market due to several key factors. The region has a well-established culture of convenience and time efficiency, aligning with the fast-paced lifestyles of consumers. The acceptance and widespread availability of RTE food products are deeply ingrained in the North American market. Additionally, a robust and advanced distribution network, coupled with the presence of major market players, ensures easy accessibility and visibility of RTE products across various retail channels. The region's inclination toward innovation in food technology and packaging further contributes to the dominance of North America in the RTE food market.

What Opportunities Lie in Asia Pacific for Manufacturers?

Socio-Economic Changes and Rapid Urbanization to Advance Growth

The Asia Pacific region is emerging as the fastest-growing market for RTE foods, fueled by dynamic socio-economic changes. Rapid urbanization in countries like China and India has led to increased demand for convenient and time-saving food solutions. The rise of dual-income households has resulted in a higher reliance on RTE products to meet dietary needs amidst busy schedules. Furthermore, the growing middle class in the Asia Pacific is increasingly embracing Westernized food habits, driving the adoption of RTE foods. As consumers in the region become more aware of and open to these products, the market experiences significant growth, making Asia Pacific a key player in the RTE food industry's expansion.

Competitive Intelligence and Business Strategy

The Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food market is characterized by the presence of prominent global players vying for market share and consumer loyalty. Nestlé, a key player, leverages its diversified product portfolio and global reach, offering RTE options ranging from breakfast to dinner. Tyson Foods, known for its meat-centric products, competes with a focus on protein-rich RTE offerings. Campbell Soup Company emphasizes its legacy of convenience with a range of RTE soups and meals. Conagra Brands positions itself as a leader in frozen foods, offering a variety of convenient RTE options.

General Mills and Kellogg's, renowned for their breakfast offerings, compete in the RTE space with cereal-based and snack options. Amy's Kitchen caters to health-conscious consumers with organic and vegetarian RTE choices. Dr. Oetker and Nomad Foods bring international flavors and convenience to the market, while Unilever and Kraft Heinz diversify their portfolios to include RTE products. In this dynamic landscape, strategic collaborations, mergers, and acquisitions play a vital role in maintaining competitiveness. Brands are investing in innovation, sustainability, and aligning with health trends to stay relevant. As consumer preferences evolve, companies must continuously adapt, leveraging their strengths and addressing market challenges to sustain and enhance their positions in the fiercely competitive RTE food market.

Key Recent Developments

New Product Launch

In December 2023, Singapore-based plant-based brand Thoughtful Food introduced a new line of ready-to-eat (RTE) meals with a cleaner label. The company aims to expand its market presence by launching these RTE meals, anticipating exports across the region and globally. This move follows their earlier introduction of dry plant-based powder mixes, providing consumers with a versatile base for creating plant-based meat in various formats for heightened flexibility and convenience.

Market Impact: Thoughtful Food's launch of cleaner-label RTE meals indicates a strategic effort to meet the growing demand for plant-based and convenient food options globally. This expansion may contribute to the overall growth of the plant-based RTE food market, providing consumers with additional choices that align with their preferences for cleaner labels and ready-to-eat convenience. As the brand explores international exports, it has the potential to influence the global plant-based food market and foster increased adoption of plant-based eating habits.

On 16th August 2023, HelloFresh Group announced the expansion of its ready-to-eat (RTE) brand, Factor, into the Netherlands and the Flanders region in Belgium. Building on Factor's success in the United States and Canada, this strategic move aligns with HelloFresh's objective to grow its total addressable market (TAM) by globally expanding the RTE category. With a well-established presence of food solutions e-commerce and a consumer preference for convenience in the Netherlands and Belgium, introducing Factor as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) service caters to the region's demand, marking a significant step for HelloFresh's evolution into an integrated food solutions group.

Market Impact: HelloFresh's expansion of the Factor brand into Europe signifies a notable strategic move to capitalize on the high demand for convenient RTE solutions in well-established food e-commerce markets. The move not only broadens HelloFresh's global market presence but also responds directly to consumer preferences in the Netherlands and Belgium. This expansion reflects the growing trend of integrated food solutions and positions HelloFresh to further dominate the RTE category, contributing to the company's overarching goal of becoming a comprehensive player in the evolving food industry.

Ready-to-Eat Food Market Report Scope

Attribute

Details

Forecast Period

2023 to 2030

Historical Data Available for

2018 to 2022

Market Analysis

US$ Million for Value

Key Regions Covered

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • South Asia & Pacific
  • East Asia
  • The Middle East & Africa  

Key Countries Covered

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Russia
  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • India
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • GCC Countries
  • South Africa  

Key Market Segments Covered

  • Product Type
  • Packaging
  • Distribution Channel
  • Region

Key Companies Profiled

  • Nestlé
  • Tyson Foods
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Conagra Brands
  • General Mills
  • Kellogg's
  • Amy's Kitchen
  • Dr. Oetker
  • Nomad Foods
  • Unilever
  • Kraft Heinz

Report Coverage

  • Market Forecast
  • Company Share Analysis
  • Competition Intelligence
  • DROT Analysis
  • Market Dynamics and Challenges
  • Strategic Growth Initiatives  

Customization & Pricing

Available upon request

Ready-to-Eat Food Market Research Segmentation

By Product Type:

  • Vegetable-Based
  • Cereal Based
  • Meat/Poultry
  • Others

By Packaging:

  • Canned
  • Retort
  • Frozen or Chilled
  • Others

By Distribution Channel:

  • Online Store
  • Departmental/ Convenience Store
  • Specialty Store
  • Supermarket/ Hypermarket
  • Others

By Region:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • East Asia
  • South Asia & Oceania
  • Latin America
  • Middle East & Africa

- Companies Covered in This Report -

  • Nestlé
  • Tyson Foods
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Conagra Brands
  • General Mills
  • Kellogg's
  • Amy's Kitchen
  • Dr. Oetker
  • Nomad Foods
  • Unilever
  • Kraft Heinz

- Frequently Asked Questions -

The market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% during the projected period. 
 

The Ready-to-Eat Food market was valued at USD 491.8 million in 2023. 
 

The U.S. held the largest market share in 2023. 
 

The prominent players in the market are Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Conagra Brands, General Mills, Kellogg's, Amy's Kitchen, Dr. Oetker, Nomad Foods, Unilever, and Kraft Heinz, among others. 
 

The Online Store segment is expected to grow at the fastest growth during the forecast period. 
 

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