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18 Ready to Eat Food Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis

Everyone seems to be busier these days with all of the responsibilities that families are carrying. Whether it is a long shift at work or need to transport the kids to various activities, people are turning to the ready to eat food industry more than ever before. Although homemade foods are considered nutritious and affordable, the products available through the RTE industry accommodate the modern lifestyle better.

There are several different categories of products found in the ready to eat food industry. Baked goods, meat products, shelf-stable foods, and miscellaneous prepackaged items all contribute revenues to this industry. Frozen foods are sometimes included with the statistics as well.

The current value of all food-service assets in the world today is over $1.3 trillion. When all food sales are calculated into the transactions people initiate for the items they wish to eat, then the value is over $8 trillion today.

When you look at the total value of the ready to eat food industry, they hold a very small portion of what people spend on the items they choose to eat.

Essential Ready to Eat Food Industry Statistics

#1. Revenues in the ready to eat food industry segment in the United States totaled $65.4 billion in 2018. The market is expected to continue growing at a rate of 3.6% through 2021. (Statista)

#2. The average person in the United States spent roughly $200 in 2018 on ready to eat food products. That is a 3.5% increase over the amount that American spent the year before. (Statista)

#3. The average person in the United States will consume about 28 kg of ready to eat foods over a 12-month period. (Statista)

#4. 45% of people say that the reason why they purchased items from the ready to eat food industry is that they do not have time to cook at home. 31% admit that RTE meals are affordable for their lifestyle. (Statista)

#5. 21% of people say that they prefer ready to eat meals because they do not cook very well when they try to make a home-cooked meal. (Statista)

#6. 13% of people say that they live alone and don’t want to cook for themselves, which is why they prefer RTE meals. 11% say that they don’t know how to cook. (Statista)

#7. 5% of people who consume ready to eat meals say that they believe the food items they purchase are healthier than what would be chosen to eat at home if they made something. (Statista)

#8. Italian food is the preferred cuisine when shopping for ready to eat meals. Over $500 million worth of these items were sold in Europe in the past year. English cuisine sells over $400 million worth of RTE foods, while Indian cuisine contributes another $250 million. (Kantar World Panel)

#9. The benefit of ready to eat meals is that they require no additional preparation before they can be consumed. This structure reduces the potential for viral agents in the food supply. 58% of foodborne disease in the United States is caused by norovirus. (Fight Bac Partnership for Food Safety)

#10. It only takes 18 viral particles on a food item to create an infection after ingestion. It only requires 10 viral particles for a rotavirus to do the same thing. (Fight Bac Partnership for Food Safety)

#11. The ready to eat food industry in the United Kingdom creates a market share of $4 billion each year. (BBC)

#12. By 2012, the chilled segment of the ready to eat industry made up 57% of the sales which occurred in the United Kingdom. (BBC)

#13. 90% of consumers say that they have purchased at least one item from this industry at a traditional supermarket in the past year. That figure is actually two percentage points lower than 2012 numbers. (Produce Marketing Association)

#14. 72% of consumers say that they purchased at least one RTE meal at a mass merchandiser in 2015. That figure is down five percentage points from 2012 data. (Produce Marketing Association)

#15. 43% of consumers say that they purchased an item at a specialty food store, which is up six percentage points from 2012 survey results. Another 33% say that they bought something at an upscale supermarket or a fresh format store. (Produce Marketing Association)

#16. Warehouse clubs are another popular place where ready to eat foods are purchased, with 57% of members saying that they bought something there in 2015. (Produce Marketing Association)

#17. One out of every three consumers will eat something made by firms in this industry at least once per week. Women typically consume more foods in this category than men, with snacks and soups being the preferred items. (The Retail Times)

#18. 50% of consumers who eat items produced by this industry say that their preferred non-vegetable snack is chicken nuggets. Among all consumers, the most popular item served by this industry is French fries, with 70% saying it is their favorite item. (The Retail Times)

Ready to Eat Food Industry Trends and Analysis

The global ready to eat food Industry is expected to continue expanding with a CAGR of 7.2% through the year 2026. If this figure is achievable, then the overall value of the worldwide industry will be $195 billion at that time.

When looking at the product types available through the ready to eat food industry, meat products will continue to hold the largest share of value during this forecast period. About 45% of the market will consist of these products. Distribution channels will focus on grocery stores, supermarkets, and hypermarkets with a growth rate of 34% expected in this area.

As Millennials continue to influence job markets in the United States, Canada, and Europe, their consumption habits will continue to help this industry grow. Additional snacks, fresh foods, and fried products will continue to drive the demand for RTE items. With populations expanding rapidly in the Asia-Pacific region, the CAGR is expected to rise by 20% through 2026, even though North America will continue to control over 40% of the total industry.

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