As a result of the strict COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the demand for ready meals in Costa Rica was boosted in the first half of 2020 as consumers spent more time at home and had a greater number of meals to prepare. Rising health consciousness also encouraged consumers to seek out healthier and more affordable meals, such as prepared salads.
Local players Roma Prince SA and Centro Internacional de Inversiones SA continue to lead ready meals in Costa Rica in 2020, benefiting from having well-established value products that focus on pasta-based dried ready meals (Roma Prince) and frozen ready meals (Centro Internacional de Inversiones). Roma Prince, which is also the leader in dried pasta, has wide coverage in both traditional and modern grocery retailers.
Wal-Mart’s Great Value private label line continues to increase its presence in frozen ready meals sales in 2020, benefiting from controlling almost 300 retail outlets in the form of discounters, hypermarkets and supermarkets across the country. Prominent shelf display, aggressive unit prices and a perception of good quality among most mid-end consumers for the Great Value line help to explain the good sales momentum recorded by Wal-Mart’s products, which include frozen ready meals, frozen pizza and prepared salads.
New development opportunities are expected to be seen for healthier ready meal products in Costa Rica over the forecast period. Organic ready-to-eat salads and frozen meals are expected to see development opportunities as well as imported and smaller-scale niche-orientated products, tapping into the added-value nutritional and lifestyle expectations of upper-end millennial consumers across the country.
A range of small companies and popular brands are expected to increasingly use social media sites along with their own-commerce platforms to promote their brands into the forecast period. The use of younger influencers capable of targeting a wide range of young buyers is also likely to become more common, with such advertisements highlighting the time-saving benefits of ready meals.
Convenience in terms of the products not requiring any preparation time along with availability and affordability will remain the key purchase drivers for ready meals, which is still in its development stage. Players are expected to continue aiming to increase awareness and penetration of ready meals across a broader base of local middle-income consumers by offering appealing and tasty products that are capable of competing with similar fast food options.
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