Competitor Strategies in Cooking Ingredients and Meals

May 2023

Entering the post-pandemic world, innovations in cooking ingredients and meals are not only focused on healthier ingredients but also convenience. Manufacturers are also balancing the need to increase prices, due to supply chain disruptions and rising raw material costs, with consumers’ demand for affordability. This report delves into cooking ingredients and meals’ growth drivers, as well as the actions taken by global players to navigate these macroeconomic challenges.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Local knowledge continues to be a key contributor to growth

Global companies constantly face competition from local manufacturers, which have market-specific knowledge and closer proximity to the market. This is reflected in the high degree of fragmentation of the cooking ingredients and meals industry globally. To grab any possible opportunities in this context, global companies are pushing region-specific innovations.

Emerging markets are projected to be the growth drivers for most global companies

While current sales of global companies are mainly coming from developed markets, emerging markets are expected to lead growth in the future. Growing economies and the reopening of economies such as China have pushed manufacturers to invest more in these markets. Kraft Heinz, for example, has shifted its Asia headquarters from Singapore to China, and has further invested in its ketchup production line in China to tap into the potential offered by the large consumer base.

Manufacturers are refocusing strategies on acquisition, partnerships and divestments

Given the global macroeconomic pressures, companies are forced to be agile and resilient. While the divestment of underperforming brands allows them to refocus their budgets, strategic mergers and acquisitions allow them to adapt more quickly by tapping into available technologies and resources. Partnerships are another method taken by players like Nestlé to gain more ideas for innovations.

Enhanced customer experiences are a central focus of innovation efforts

Consumers are increasingly looking for novel experiences, a trend which should be considered by industry players. Recent innovations include those that push for new experiences, such as the ease of usage and storage through packaging innovations by McCormick, and dual menus in a single pack by ConAgra under its Marie Callender’s brand.

Convenience and healthy products are key factors driving product innovation among industry players

Consumers are increasingly looking for cooking ingredients and meals that provide both value for money and nutritional benefits. They appreciate products that help them save time and simplify their lives. Examples include Kewpie's innovation in Japan through Reshipi Hirogaru, and Campbell’s FlavorUp! sauces, which add value through convenient packaging, and offer versatility as they can be used in a wide variety of dishes.


Key findings
Kraft Heinz Co has taken over the leadership of the cooking ingredients and meals industry
Regional companies prosper through their localised understanding of consumers
Adani enters the top 10 through a sharp increase in revenue due to a rise in unit prices
M&A and company partnerships as keys to opportunities
Legacy brands that are trusted by consumers are garnering focus by manufacturers
Hello Fresh gains share in a competitive industry owing to shifts in consumers’ habits
Leading manufacturers have to compete with local players to win in emerging markets
Investments in innovation and acquisitions push Kraft Heinz to the top of the industry
Nestlé’s growth boosted by innovations in healthier products and consumer engagement
Unilever focuses innovations on its mainstay brands, Knorr and Best Foods/Hellmann’s
Product and operational innovations continue for Wilmar and Adani in key markets
HelloFresh focuses on efficiency and product and geographic expansion to fuel future growth
ConAgra taps into opportunities targeted at wellness and convenience
On top of flavours, health and cost, McCormick also focuses on bringing convenience
Campbell’s Soup provides younger consumers with convenience and new experiences
General Mills continued focus on convenient formats drives innovation
Significant growth is expected in emerging markets and in less mature categories
Ready meals and meal kits show promising growth for industry players
Key opportunities lie in targeted innovations and the move to the digital world
Projected company sales: FAQs (1)
Projected company s ales: FAQs (2)


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