The chilled ready meals market has grown 1.6% to £2.055bn in the last year and seen volume increase 1.3%. Italian ready meals continue to be hugely popular, with sales up 9.3% by value, but the star performer is the US ready meals segment.

The sub-category, which includes ready-made burgers, spare ribs, turkey swizzlers and chicken drumsticks in sauce, has leapt 16.1% in value and 10.5% in volume. If current data trends continue, it will soon overtake Chinese, the worst-performing sector, down 11.1% in value. Sales of Chinese ethnic ingredients also fell, with Chinese vegetables down 6.3% to £4.7m and prawn crackers down 41% to £136,000.

In contrast, sales of curry powder were up 9.3% to £5.9m, poppadoms were up 5.6% to £21m, vegetable ghee grew 52% to £936,000 and coconut milk shot up 33% to £10m. Mexican sales also shot up, despite chilled ready meals not including meal kits.

Own label dominates chilled ready meals, with 87% market share. However, branded has seen stronger growth and gained market share this year. The number one retailer is M&S, with an 833% overtrade (accounting for 25% of the chilled ready meals market).

Focus On World Cuisine