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Brits eat most ready meals in Europe

19 May 2010

UK consumers are spending the most money on ready meals in Europe accounting for a fifth of the market, finds Business Insights

Our love affair with ready meals is driving an influx of innovative new products, with the independent business analyst reporting that the UK clocked up the highest level – 19% - of all ready meal product launches in Europe in 2009.

Alternative sales channels such as independent ready meal stores and internet based home delivery services are also pushing up demand in the mature markets of Europe, particularly in the UK.

Natasha Horton, consumer goods analyst at Business Insights said: “The high level of money spent on ready meals in the UK reflects a new breed of consumers turning to ready prepared meals as an alternative to dining out during the recession. This new consumer group has different requirements to the traditional ready-meal target audience including a higher disposable income.

“Manufacturers and retailers have had to create a new generation of ready meal to appeal to these consumers, hence the increase in NPD witnessed during last year.”

The high level of product launches combined with the increased level of spend is reflected in the trend for tastier, and more traditional products that claim to be homemade. Specifically Business Insights believes that growth in the market will come from the trend of ready-to-cook rather then ready-to-eat meals.

Ms Horton added: “Ready-to-cook options help prevent consumers feeling guilty about buying a ready meal whilst saving them time in both preparing and sourcing ingredients. The ‘Cook!’ range from M&S and ‘Inspired to Cook’ from Sainsbury’s are good examples of the popularity of this trend.”

Key growth areas for the future will be ready meals that allow purchasers to customise what they eat and products that even higher quality “home made” ready meals.

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