Home-cooked meals trump convenience
Three-quarters of Australians have a home-cooked meal on any given day, highlighting the popularity of preparing fresh meals despite the rising demand for convenience.
A pilot study on home-prepared meals by The NPD Group found that nine out of 10 consumers have a home-prepared meal made from store-bought ingredients within a four-week period.
Although there are a number of convenience-first home cooking products — such as frozen products, ready-to-eat meals, ready-to-heat meals, meal kits and meal plans — the study found there is still a high purchasing drive for fresh over frozen meals, particularly among millennials. This age bracket accounts for 30% of all home-prepared meals using fresh and store-bought ingredients.
“Today, convenience, health and the search for quality, local ingredients are all entwined, and many options have launched in the market to suit the time-strapped consumer,” said Ciara Clancy, Executive Director, Foodservice at The NPD Group. “However, whilst our data reveals that millennials are driving the meal kit and meal plan trend, their impact is still low when compared to consumers choosing to prepare meals from start to finish using fresh ingredients purchased in store.”
Millennials make up 50% of meal kit users and form the majority of meal plan consumers, but Clancy suggested there is a gap in the market when it comes to convenient home-cooked meals.
“The needs of convenience-driven consumers are not being satisfied when it comes to eating at home. We expected to see a much higher consumption of frozen and ready-to-eat/heat meals,” she said.
“It could be that meal kits and meal plans are expensive compared to buying individual ingredients yourself, but frozen meals tend to be cheaper, so what is stopping households buying them? Is it that they don’t meet Australians’ high taste expectations or is there a stigma attached to frozen food whereby people believe they are unhealthy? Whatever it is, manufacturers need to take note, as there is a huge opportunity here to fill the gap.”
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