Keeping up with trends in the Ready-to-Eat Food industry can be a daunting task. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to gather all of the relevant statistics and present them in one easy-to-read place.
In case you’re wondering what we mean by “Ready-to-Eat Food”, we’re referring to things like pizza, rice and beans, and canned soup. You know: food that’s easy to prepare or doesn’t require any preparation at all.
As we go through these statistics, you’ll see that ready-to-eat foods are really just what they sound like: foods that are packaged and prepared so they’re ready to eat when you buy them. The concept isn’t as simple as it sounds, though. Within the broad category of “ready-to-eat foods,” there are a lot of different types of products and industries represented.
Ready-to-eat food is a staple of modern life. People work so much, and we don’t always have time to stop, pick up supplies and cook meals. With ready-to-eat food, you can grab lunch on the go and still make it back to the office in time for that important presentation. And let’s be honest: most of us just love the convenience. We all deserve a break sometimes, and ready-to-eat food makes that possible for us.
But how much do we actually know about it? Many people think of ready-to-eat food as fast food—or maybe even frozen TV dinners. But there are so many more options in this category.
So before you go out to grab your next meal, take a look at these statistics to learn more about the world of ready-to-eat food! We were surprised by some of these statistics, and we hope that you’ll be too!
Top Ready-to-Eat Food Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- In 2020, almost 36% of Americans consumed ready-to-eat meals.
- Two in five UK adults eat ready meals every week.
- The revenue of the global ready-to-eat meals market segment is worth $0.51 trillion.
- The worldwide frozen ready meals market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.48% between 2021 and 2028.
- North America held 41.4% of the global ready-to-eat foods market last year.
- 47% of meat-based ready meals in the UK contain chicken.
- 25% of Americans who have tried meal kits live in urban areas.
- The MRE shelf life lasts around five years at 75 degrees F.
Global Ready-to-Eat Food Consumption Statistics
1. Young consumers spend the majority of their income on ready-to-eat food products.
Mordor Intelligence’s ready-to-eat food market report suggests that the target market of ready-to-eat food are young consumers. Ready meals are the closest thing to regular food, can be eaten anytime, and are perfect for a busy lifestyle. In addition, the convenience that ready-to-eat foods offer is the reason for the high demand for these products.
2. Almost 36% of American adults consumed ready-to-eat meals in 2020.
(Fortune Business Insights)
It’s important to note that the demand for ready-to-eat food surged in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic started. Since movement was restricted due to lockdowns, it was smarter to buy ready-to-eat foods because they have a longer shelf life. The most common distribution channels for ready meals were hypermarkets and supermarkets.
3. Approximately 97% of the Luxemburger survey participants admitted to daily consumption of ready-to-eat meals.
The analysis of the ready-to-eat food industry and its connection to obesity points out that a vast majority of Luxembourgers reported consuming ready-to-eat food on a daily basis. Interestingly, its intake was considerably prevalent in men who lived alone and varied depending on their education level.
4. Roughly 5.33 million people in Great Britain consumed chilled or frozen ready-to-eat meals more than once a week in 2020.
As Statista’s report indicates, the number of people who consumed chilled or frozen ready meals increased in 2020 compared to the year before, when 3.4 million people consumed them. Apart from that, most people ate such meals two or three times a month in 2020 (6.1 million), while 2.3 million ate them once per month or less.
5. In the Netherlands, generation Zers who lived independently purchased ready-to-eat meals most frequently (1.9 times per month) in 2019.
Every successful ready-to-eat food business knows that millennials and Generation Z are very likely to rely on ready meals. It appears that, in the Netherlands, Generation Zers who lived independently had the highest purchase frequency of ready-to-eat meals in 2019, while millennials purchased around two ready meals a month.
6. Two in five adults in the UK eat ready meals every week.
Although 40% of Brits eat ready-made meals every week mostly because they’re busy or too tired to cook, that’s not very good for their health. Namely, ready-to-eat meals may be high in fat and salt and low in other nutrients, which can lead to obesity or high blood pressure. While there are some healthier options, ready meals can’t replace regular food.
7. According to a survey, 35% of male UK respondents bought ready-to-eat meals two to three times per week in 2014, compared to 25% of female respondents.
Statista’s ready-to-eat food statistics suggest that men are more prone to consuming ready-to-eat food regularly. Also, people under 35 are more likely to buy ready-made food, as 31% consumed it two or three times a week in 2014, while 29% of those aged over 35 did the same.
8. It is estimated that 130.55 million Americans will consume frozen complete (TV) dinners in 2024.
TV dinners are the original ready-to-eat meals. Statista’s report based on the Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS) and the US Census data reveals that 127.92 million Americans ate frozen complete dinners in 2020, while nearly 200 million didn’t.
9. 0% of the 177 analyzed ready-to-eat meals from leading Hungarian supermarkets entirely complied with the WHO recommendations.
Ready-to-eat food from a grocery store is a common choice for people on the go. Still, this statistic from a 2020 research about Hungarian ready meals is concerning and shows how unhealthy they can be. Even though our lifestyles have become hectic, ready-to-eat foods that are high in fat shouldn’t be our regular food choice.
Ready-to-Eat Food Market and Revenue Statistics
10. Revenue of the global ready-to-eat meals market segment amounts to $0.51 trillion.
The global ready-to-eat meals market currently amounts to $0.51 trillion. Most revenue is generated in China, as its market amounts to $124.7 billion in 2022. In the United States, the market size of the ready-to-eat meals segment is expected to hit $43 billion in 2022.
It’s also important to add that, when total population (worldwide) figures are in question, per person revenues of $66.39 are generated this year.
11. The worldwide ready meals market is forecasted to expand at a CAGR of 5.1% from 2022 to 2030.
(Grand View Research)
Ready to eat food market research shows that the worldwide ready meals market size was valued at $143.86 billion last year. The main reasons for market growth are shifting customers’ food preferences toward ready-to-eat products due to the busy lifestyles of college students and working individuals. Also, leading companies have been launching premium ready-to-eat main courses.
12. North America held 41.4% of the global ready-to-eat foods market in 2021.
(Grand View Research)
Americans are the most common consumers of pre-packaged meals. However, the Asia-Pacific is forecasted to be the fastest-growing market from 2022 to 2030. The reason for that is mainly the increase of the target population, but growing disposable income and awareness about ready-to-eat products, improving living standards, and industrialization are also important factors.
13. The global frozen ready meals market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.48% between 2021 and 2028.
(Data Bridge Market Research)
Frozen ready meals are incredibly convenient because of their shelf life and easy preparation. They’re a cheaper version of junk food for adolescents and easily accessible. Also, the lifestyle changes of the working-class and corporate population are predicted to boost the growth of the frozen ready meals market.
14. The worldwide pre‐packaged sandwiches market size was worth $13.0 billion in 2018.
(Grand View Research)
We’re now able to buy sandwiches with so many different ingredients. For instance, there are vegan, organic, and vegetarian sandwiches, and many now contain vegetables like beetroots, carrots, and sweet potatoes. That’s why this market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 4.9% between 2019 and 2025.
15. The global ready-to-eat snacks market size was worth $126.3 billion in 2020.
Ready-to eat-snacks have a balanced shelf life and can be refrigerated. Ready-to-eat food statistics show that it’s estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.2% between 2021 and 2026. North America held the largest share in 2020 due to the shifting food practices of consumers and changes in lifestyle.
Some examples of ready-to-eat snacks include protein chips and high-fiber biscuits.
16. The global canned meals market segment is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.5% between 2021 and 2026.
According to IndustryARC’s report, the canned meals market segment is estimated to grow at the fastest CAGR between 2021 and 2026, thanks to increasing global popularity among young people. On the contrary, the meat product segment is projected to hold the largest market share during the same period.
Statistics Regarding The Ingredients and Types of Ready Meals
17. In the UK, 47% of meat-based ready meals contain chicken.
Chicken is the most popular meat among UK ready-meal consumers. Beef is the second most popular meat, as 31% of meaty-ready meals are made of it. Also, 14% of ready meals contain pork, 6% lamb, while only 2% contain other types of meat. It’s important to mention that meat-based options are likely to be reduced in the future.
18. 24% of Waitrose’s ready-to-eat meals are vegetarian or plant-based.
If we pay attention to the new ready meal trends, we can conclude that vegetarian and vegan ready-to-eat meals will be much more accessible in the future.
Eating Better’s extensive survey that includes 1350 different ready meals from 10 retailers reveals that 24% of Waitrose’s prepared meals are vegetarian or plant-based. Nonetheless, meat is still the main ingredient of all analyzed ready meals.
19. 84% of ready meals from the UK supermarkets contain fish, meat, and cheese.
A 2020 survey of over 2,800 ready meals shows that vegans and vegetarians will have to wait for some time for plant-based ready meals to be more available in supermarkets. In addition, plant-based ready meals are the most expensive in certain supermarkets. Also, 70% of vegetarian meals contain cheese.
20. 56% of consumers in the US are willing to pay more for clean label ready meals.
(Food Ingredients First)
Statistics from a 2021 survey led by the researchers from Washington State University point out that over half of Americans would pay more for clean label ready-to-eat meals. Furthermore, they wish to learn about technologies that help limit the number of preservatives additives.
Other Relevant Ready-to-Eat Food Statistics
21. 25% of Americans who have tried meal kits live in urban areas.
Meal kits are also a convenient solution for people who have no time to cook.
According to meal kit statistics based on a survey, one-fourth of Americans who are urban dwellers have tried meal kits, compared to only 14% of those living in rural areas. Also, roughly 29% of millennials aged 18 to 29 and 26% of Generation Xers aged 30 to 44 have tried a meal kit service.
22. The average MRE shelf life is five years at 75 degrees F.
(Army Navy Outdoors)
Military ready foods are made to endure extreme weather conditions. Still, higher temperatures can influence their shelf life. The lower the temperature they’re stored at, the longer they last.
If they’re kept in conditions cooler than 75 degrees F, they can last more than ten years and still be edible. Nevertheless, MRE will last around a month if stored at 120 degrees F.
Related Questions (FAQ)
Who is the target market for ready meals?
Young people spend most of their income on ready-to-eat food products and are the easiest targets for well-known ready-to-eat food manufacturers. The reason for such a demand is the convenience of ready-to-eat food. Young consumers need ready meals the most as they don’t have much time to spend on preparing food.
What are the most popular ready meals?
If we examine the current ready-to-eat food trends, we’ll realize that environmentally friendly, plant-based, and vegetarian ready meals are much more popular than before. That’s because manufacturers now offer more vegetarian and vegan options. However, chicken seems to be the most popular when meat is in question, as 47% of meaty ready-to-eat meals are made of chicken.
Are meal kits still popular?
Not only are meal kits popular, but it’s estimated that the worldwide meal kit delivery services market will grow at a CAGR of 17.4% between 2022 and 2030. It appears that the preference for chef-cooked or home-cooked food among millennials is one of the key contributors to this market’s growth.
How big is the ready meal market?
According to the latest data, the revenue in the ready-to-eat meals segment amounts to $0.51 trillion in 2022. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.20% by 2027. Most revenue is generated in China ($124.70 billion in 2022). It’s also important to mention that the global revenue of the ready-to-eat meals market has been steadily increasing since 2015.
How should ready-to-eat food be stored after it has cooled?
Ready-to-eat foods, such as packaged foods, dairy products, leftovers, ready meals, cooked meat, and salad should be kept in sealed containers and stored at the top of the fridge. This will make sure that harmful bacteria from raw foods can’t be passed on to cooked food.
What are the advantages of ready-to-eat food?
There are so many benefits of ready-to-eat meals for shoppers, retailers, and even the environment. Apart from being incredibly convenient, ready-to-eat foods contribute to higher margins per order, brand differentiation, and floor space use. Also, ready-to-eat food statistics and facts reveal that making ready meals leads to less food waste.
We hope that you’ve found this run-down of ready-to-eat food statistics informative and engaging!
Here’s the key takeaway: we’re eating more ready-to-eat food than ever before, and the industry is showing no signs of slowing down.
The next step? Figuring out where you fit into this picture. Do you want to create a new brand? Is it time to expand your existing brand? Or are you thinking about investing in the ready-to-eat food industry?
No matter what your next step is, we hope these ready-to-eat food statistics will help inform your choices!
As we move forward, we’re going to keep seeing major players like Amazon and Walmart make more moves into the ready-to-eat space. It’s also safe to assume that more and more millennials will be attracted to this type of food as they age and start families of their own.
In the next few years, we expect the ready-to-eat food market to see a significant growth spurt (if you’ll excuse the pun). What do you think?
As always, thanks for reading!