More consumers are feeling time-scarce and view cooking as a chore, turning to convenient ready meals to free up more time for themselves. But to survive in an increasingly health-conscious society, ready meal manufacturers must innovate with new ingredients and premium products. 

Busy urbanites look for convenient products

According to a new Canadean report, consumers seek products that suit their hectic lifestyles, influencing US$314 billion of food and beverages consumption in 2013. Parents, those with busy jobs and young urbanites without traditional cooking skills are most likely to look for fast and convenient food preparation. Urban males between the age of 16 and 35 alone are responsible for 16.7% of food and beverage consumption by volume in 2013. Kirsty Nolan, analyst at Canadean, says: “People want to free up some time on their busy schedules and are actively looking for convenient products to reduce the time they spend on food preparation.”

New challenges ahead for microwavable food

The report shows that the search for convenience is one of the key factors why microwavable food continues to be a huge trend – despite consumers growing increasingly aware of healthy eating. Nolan says: “Since its initial launch in the late 60s, the countertop microwave oven has become an essential in modern kitchens globally. The challenge for ready meal manufacturers in the coming years will be to come up with new, innovative products that are positioned around premium quality.”

Ingredients manufacturers such as Budenheim will help to bring microwavable innovations to the market. Budenheim launched Budal MW500 – a new ingredient that keeps microwavable snacks, such as baked goods, crispy on the outside. This allows food manufacturers to further expand their microwavable cuisine range to include croissants and pastries, which previously have not fared well during microwave preparation. Nolan adds: “Such innovations are making traditional cooking skills obsolete, providing busy consumers with the opportunity to spend time on other activities.”