Ready meals were increasingly embraced in home meals during the height of the pandemic in 2020. In general, Korean home-cooked meals consist of rice, soup or stew and many different side dishes, which involves rather complicated preparation steps.
Sales via consumer foodservice collapsed during the pandemic as restaurants had to close due to lockdown and repetitive curfews imposed by the government. This led many industry players in foodservice to look for ways to commercialise their popular menus in collaboration with manufacturers or distribution channels.
Rising health awareness during the pandemic stimulated many Korean consumers to adopt healthier diets in order to boost their immunity and safeguard themselves from virus transmission during this unprecedented health crisis. Many people gained weight due to long periods of home seclusion or self-isolation with snacking rising as a way to cope with the stress and boredom.
While the growth rate of ready meals will slow compared to the spike seen 2020 as home consumption naturally decreases, this category is still expected to retain a significant level of growth over the forecast period, on the back of advanced product quality. Dumplings (known as mandu in South Korea) tend to be purchased at specialist stores or food trucks after work and on the commute home.
Amid mounting competition in e-commerce, new value propositions are likely to be needed if players are to gain a long-term competitive edge in the marketplace. As overnight delivery services are likely to become popular after the pandemic, even for temperature-sensitive foods such as chilled and frozen food, consumers are likely to seek a value-added offering rather than a quick delivery.
While dinner mixes will continue to record massive growth over the forecast period, this growth may cannibalise sales within the category and erode sales of shelf stable, chilled and frozen ready meals. Dinner mixes are delivered to consumers with perfectly prepared ingredients in a precise quantities, which eases the cooking process and guarantees the taste.
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