Convenience was the key driver behind the growth of ready meals in 2018, with strong new product development activity focusing on offering convenient meal options to time-constrained consumers. While consumers remain acutely aware of the importance of healthy and nutritious meals, the increasingly time-poor nature of many cosmopolitan and urban consumers means demand for healthy ready meal options continues to increase.
Buoyed by increased interest in Mexican cuisine, dinner mixes was one of the standout performers in terms of value sales growth during the review period. In 2018, however, the value sales growth of dinner mixes dropped, with demand for Mexican cuisine seemingly having reached its plateau point.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the influence that premiumisation had in 2018 on value sales growth, unit price growth was strong in 2018, driven not by increasing commodity or input prices, as was the case in other cooking ingredients categories, but rather by increased penetration of premium-orientated products. Changes in the orientation of private label product offerings from both Progressive Enterprises Ltd and Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd have meant that focus has shifted towards a mid-priced positioning and away from an economy positioning, in line with more sophisticated consumer preferences.
Owing to the diverse range of categories and product types, ready meals is heavily segmented, with only Heinz Wattie’s Ltd holding a double-digit value share. The company’s strongest performance is in shelf stable ready meals where it is easily the dominant player.
Goodman Fielder New Zealand Ltd is projected to maintain a leading place in ready meals in 2018, attributable to its leadership of chilled ready meals through its Irvines brand. Goodman Fielder announced in 2017 that it planned to close two factories in Auckland, consolidating their production into a single site, and moving its pie-making operation to Palmerston North, as part of an efficiency drive in what the company labelled “a very competitive market”.
General Mills NZ Ltd was one of the standout performers within ready meals over the review period. However, with its fortunes tied to dinner mixes, 2018 is expected to be a difficult year for the company.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.