Ready meal manufacturers ready to respond to a changing marketing environment
CASE STUDY FOR DISCUSSION IN WEEK THREE
It is often said that ‘we are what we eat’, but it can also be said that what is on our dinner plates reflects the broader marketing environment. One big change in recent years has been the growing demand for ready prepared meals brought from a supermarket. Previously dismissed as unpalatable and a poor substitute for ‘real’ cooking, their sales have grown rapidly in recent years in many western developed countries. An analysis of the reasons for the growth in the ready prepared meals indicates the effects of broader factors in the market environment on the size of a particular market.
The research company Mintel reported in 2007 that the market for ready meals in the five largest European countries increased by 5% between 2006 and 2007 alone to reach €8.4 billion. Moreover, it predicted a further 18% growth to reach the €10 billion mark by 2011. In the UK, the market was worth a total of €2 billion, with a much higher level of sales per head of population than in France or Germany. Intel predicted that between 2006 and 2011, UK ready meals sales would reach €3.7 billion, with about a quarter of all Brits likely to eat a ready meal at least once a week. It seemed that the appetite for ready meals would grow more slowly in other European countries, for example Mintel predicted that by 2011, only 9% of Germans would eat a ready meal each week. What has driven the growth in the ready meals market in recent years, and why should there be differences in market potential between countries?
Technology has played a big role in the growing take-up of ready meals. A report by the research body Leatherhead Food International described how new techniques have allowed companies to develop ready meals...