We may enjoy watching television cookery programmes but when it comes to food the UK remains “king of convenience”, according to a new report on ready meals.
The market for ready meals in the five largest European countries – the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain – increased 5% between 2006 and 2007 to reach 8.4b Euros, says the Mintel report, Eating Habits: Improving the Appeal of Convenience Options. And sales look set for a further 18% growth, to reach the 9.9b Euros by 2011.
But the UK ready meals market is still the largest of all five. Sales here were worth 3b Euros (£2b) last year – a third higher than those in France. What’s more, the UK will see around a 25% increase in sales from 2006 to 2011 to reach 3.7b Euros (£2.6b). Brits are also the most likely to eat ready meals more than once a week.
“The UK is still king of convenience,” commented Michelle Strutton, European consumer analyst at Mintel. “The ready meals market in the UK is by far and away the most advanced in Europe.
“Despite their once poor image, sales have continued to grow as manufacturers have successfully tapped into recent healthy eating trends. European consumers have become more concerned about the quality of their food, and saving time or effort is no longer a strong enough selling point. In the future, ready meals need to appeal to shoppers by continuing to offer other benefits which fit in with consumers’ lifestyles, such as organic, all-natural ingredients and healthier-for-you recipes.”