Consumer food choices are complex, and largely shaped by convenience, cost, and taste. All three pillars of consumer choices have contributed to the growth of the ‘Ready to Eat’ (RTE) food market. Traditionally, the definition of the RTE category is products which require little to no additional preparation for the consumer.
However, RTE has also typically been associated with prepared convenience meals, not commonly linked to a healthy balanced lifestyle, but instead, linked to the terms ‘cheat meal’ or ‘fast food’. Now, a category once seen as an unhealthy choice, is tapping into the ethical minded and health driven consumer.
Projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.3% in the next 5 years, the ready-to-eat category has a wonderful opportunity to position itself as the convenient partner for holistic wellbeing without sacrificing taste or sustainable practices. Globally, we are seeing the uplift of the RTE trend, with Australian’s increasing their purchases of RTE meals by 8% annually since 2014. Mintel recently reported that 86% of UK adults eat RTE meals, with 30% consuming chilled RTE products once a week.
Not only is there a continuous uplift in demand for convenience eating there is also a change in the types of products we are seeing emerge from the food industry. The shift across this category taps into important emerging trends we are seeing in the food industry as a whole: sustainability, plant-based alternatives, holistic wellness, and ‘no nasty’ ingredients.
Ready to eat wellness is here and we have scoured the world (a.k.a. internet) to find recent examples of innovative products and sustainable solutions which represent the rapidly changing landscape of the ready-to-eat meal category.
UK/Ireland – World’s first Carbon Neutral Ready Meals
Fiid is all about taste, convenience, and comfort from real food. They only use whole-food, plant-based ingredients, with no additives or preservatives. Their sustainability journey has driven them to make all their range of products carbon neutral, taking the title of the world’s first carbon-neutral ready meals.
Australia – Sustainable Goodness on the Go
Go Native is on a mission to revolutionize the active, outdoor industry with food that can be consumed actively and mindfully while outdoors. Their mission is to use outstanding natural ingredients, reusable, and sustainable materials for tasty and ready-to-eat casseroles/curries for outdoor adventures, work, and home.
Australia – The rise of the Ecotarian
Dineamic, an Australian brand has labeled their company as ‘ECO -TEAR-IAN’, with a fundamental focus on the importance of sustainability. Dinaemic has introduced ‘The Halopack’ 92% less plastic and recyclable; contributing to reducing their use of plastic by 20 tonnes per year. Secondly, Dineamic has committed to choosing Australian locally sourced food, which is prepared in a carbon-neutral kitchen
New Zealand – Restore & Recycle
Naked Kitchen is a new range of meals that are plant-based, gluten-free, and packed full of locally grown ingredients. Marketed to Calm, Restore, Comfort or Sustain this range of ready-to-eat meals are packed in HDPE pouches accepted in the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme of NZ.
Singapore – 24-hour Healthy Convenience
Shake Salad specialises in a daily selection of freshly packed salads using premium ingredients. Available to purchase in a vending machine, experts have focused on creating tasty, delicious, pre-packaged food that is ready to eat. The convivence for high-density locations has allowed Shake Salad to be available 24 hours at a one-stop kiosk with affordable prices.
Please note, we are not affiliated, associated, or in any way officially connected with the brands and products mentioned within this post.