Photo: Spencer Davis

Photo: Spencer Davis

Ready-made food gains in popularity

Ready meals are becoming increasingly popular with Danish consumers. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council have examined how Danes use and regard ready meals (fully or partially pre-pared food). What are the challenges that ready meals solve? On what occasions do consumers turn to ready meals? And what is their overall impact? The following article offers some an-swers.

Summary of analysis
Fully or partially prepared food is gaining ground among Danish consumers. In fact, it has become popular with all types of consumers who find it a satisfying and healthy alternative to homemade food. The reason? Time. Young consumers, including young families, are finding that ready-made food can be a great help in their busy lives. It’s no longer taboo: instead, prepared food can re-place a homemade meal when time is at a premium. What’s more, consumers are satisfied with the taste, price and nutritional aspects.

  • Time and particularly how we spend our time, is the main reason for choosing fully or partially prepared food. This is because consumers are disinclined to cook their meals from scratch when they’ve had a busy day and want to spend their time on something other than cooking.
  • Ready-made food is popular among all consumer segments, but particularly among young families who are less likely to plan their meals and would rather not spend their time cooking.
  • Fully or partially prepared food is no longer taboo. Rather, consumers are satisfied with the taste, price and nutritional properties of ready-made food.

Read more about the analysis and its main points here:

Time is an important driver when buying ready meals
These days, Danes spend less time on housework and cooking. Over the past three years, an increasing number of Danes have been spending less than 15 minutes preparing food. If the day does not go according to plan or the desire to cook is missing, a ready meal is a good solution. Some 50 per cent of consumers justify their purchase because ready-made food is a great help when they cannot be bothered to cook themselves.

Read also: Discover the perfect accompaniment to pork

Ready meals with a good conscience
Studies from the Danish Agriculture & Food Council also show that partially prepared food provides a source of inspiration for the evening meal and no longer results in a bad conscience. However, many consumers do not think that fully or partially prepared food tastes better than the food they cook themselves.

Ready meals are becoming part of everyday life
The percentage of fully or partially prepared food bought in supermarkets and other outlets has been increasing over the last few years. According to Euromonitor, the trend is set to continue. However, although the figures from Euromonitor show a growth, not all consumers believe that they are actually buying more ready-made food. This perhaps indicates that ready meals are gradually becoming part of everyday life.

Pizza and rye bread are the most popular meals
Pizza and rye bread are what consumers eat when they opt for fully or partially prepared food. One in two people has eaten either pizza or rye bread within the last two months. 

Most ready meals focus on meat
In most cases, prepared food contains meat or has been purchased with the intention that meat should be included. 74 per cent of all meals include meat and in 57 per cent of cases, the meal is composed on the basis of meat. In the remaining 17 per cent, meat is also included, but is of secondary importance. Across all meal types, therefore, meat is a common component. It is most often present in hot food where at least one ingredient is ready-made. Beef and pork are the most prevalent.

74% ... of all fully or partially prepared dishes contain meat

Ready meals are for informal, fast everyday food
When asking Danes which occasion best describes why they ate a meal comprising fully or partial-ly prepared food, one in two consumers answered that it was because it was an informal occasion and they wanted a quick, everyday meal.

Ready meals are fast, practical and time saving
When Danes buy ready meals, they are looking for a helping hand on the days when they don’t have time or don’t want to cook the evening meal themselves. Therefore, it is not surprising that ready meals are mostly consumed on weekdays. When looking at when consumers planned their meal, in most cases it was planned on the same day or completely spontaneously in front of the chilled counter.

Read also: A flavour filled year 

Satisfied with the taste experience
Although over 50 per cent of Danes disagree that food tastes better when purchased out of the home, eight out of ten consumers express a high level of satisfaction with the taste experience of ready-made food. Overall, only 4 per cent were dissatisfied. When it comes to price, consumers most often perceive fully or partially prepared food as either expensive or cheap, or definitely cheap. And when looking at the health aspect of fully or partially prepared meals, most Danes have a generally positive attitude to the degree of health. Specifically, 44 per cent of Danes believe such meals to be healthy.

44% ... believe that fully or partially prepared food is healthy

Ready meals have more or less unconsciously become part of the daily diet
Figures from Euromonitor reveal that there is a clear increase in ready meals, but consumers in this survey have, however, not realised that their consumption has increased. Those who have purchased more ready-made food within the past year assign less time and easy access as the reasons for doing so. That consumers themselves do not believe that consumption of ready-made food has increased is due in part to the fact that we are no longer aware of how often it is part of the food we eat. In general, it indicates that ready meals are gradually becoming part of everyday life because they have become a more widespread solution to a busy everyday life. 


About the analysis

The analysis is based on data collected by Epinion for the Danish Agriculture & Food Council in November 2019. 1,032 representatively selected Danes between the ages of 18 and 70 took part in the survey. The analysis was carried out by the Market Analysis Department, Consumer Economics & Statistics at the Danish Agriculture & Food Council.