Europe has a large and expanding market for ready meals. Growth is currently being driven by the ongoing consumer desire for convenience, although health demands are also impacting upon new product activity across much of the region.
Sales have traditionally been skewed towards Europe’s more northerly countries such as the UK, Germany and the Benelux and Scandinavian nations, where the trend towards convenience foods is generally highest. In the UK, for example, recent data from Cancer Research and YouGov indicates that the country’s adults eat 79 million ready meals per week, with those in the 18-24 age bracket representing the most likely consumers.
Wide spectrum of choices
In many of the region’s largest markets, pasta-based ready meals account for a significant percentage of sales. Dishes based around spaghetti, macaroni, lasagne, penne and other forms of pasta are popular with large sections of the European population, as a result of which manufacturers of frozen convenience foods continue to innovate within this category. According to data from the National Food Survey, lasagne occupies second place in the list of preferred types of ready meals amongst UK consumers, trailing only shepherd’s pie. Further down the list, macaroni cheese lies in fifth spot.
According to latest estimates, sales of Italian-based frozen ready meals in the UK were valued at GBP430m within the last year, as can be seen from Figure 1. This equates to almost a third (31%) of the total category...