Ready meals have slipped into decline for the first time in five years, with shoppers ditching the category for alternative meal solutions - including meal kits and takeaway deliveries.
Total sales in chilled ready meals dropped £52.3m or 1.3%, driven by a move away from volume-based deals towards temporary price reductions this year [Kantar 52 w/e 8 September 2019].
The change in promotional tactic led to volume sales losses of 1.1%, with lower prices from TPRs dragging average price down 0.4%, resulting in less spend per trip.
Ready meal shopper losses were seen “across the board” of big four shoppers, said Kantar analyst Madeleine Peck.
The losses also resulted from changes in shopper behaviour, including increasingly popular home delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat and direct to consumer meal kit suppliers such as Hello Fresh and Gousto.
Competition for ready meal shoppers is also growing inside the supermarket. The past year has seen a wave of convenience-driven launches across meal kits, frozen and ambient sectors, ranging from Green Saffron’s Red Lentil Dahl Spice Kit to Strong Root’s Cauliflower Hash Browns and Quorn’s ambient Bowl Meals.
“Brands and retailers must focus on new launches that can compete with the growing number of healthier convenience options and the huge variety of trendy, modern cuisines offered by delivery services.” said Strathmore Foods MD Julie Nisbet.