Ready Meals, Water and the Environment

ready meals

Can convenience and sustainability co-exist when it comes to ready meals? Dave Norman at Clearwater Technology explores where and how this can be achieved.

The ready meal isn’t always a staple that we Brits are proud of, at least not openly, but it’s an indulgence that we’re more than a little fond of according to last year’s figures. In 2016 alone, we collectively spent GBP3bn on ready meals in the UK, equating to roughly GBP9m per day. Last year’s figures also revealed that the ready meal market grew by an astonishing GBP37m, so clearly there’s a consumer appetite for pre-prepared meals. Supermarkets are feeding this with an ever-increasing range of basic and premium options, with a wide range in choices of cuisine creating diverse appeal. As consumers demand more convenient options and ready meal sales accelerate, retailers and producers must question both the cost efficiency and environmental impact of ready meal preparation. A 2017 Unilever study revealed that a third of consumers base purchasing decisions on a brand’s social and environmental responsibility. The study also found that there is an estimated GBP857 billion opportunity for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear.

The true cost of convenience

There are many areas that must be considered when striving towards a reduction in production costs and increases in sustainability, but in some cases, it’s easier said than done. Packaging, for example, would be an obvious area where the carbon footprint...