The market researcher put the value of European ready meal sales at €30.5bn in 2013, compared to €26.7bn five years earlier. It expects the European market to be worth €40.85bn by 2016.
Three countries – France, Germany and the UK – accounted for 60% of ready meal spending last year, FFT said, with Spanish shoppers accounting for another 12%. No other single European country accounted for more than 4% of the total.
FFT breaks the market down into seven main categories, with the chilled and frozen ready meal segments together accounting for nearly three-quarters of the market. Other categories are canned pasta, canned ready meals, dehydrated ready meals, frozen pizza, and sandwiches.
“Canned Pasta presents the most interesting growth opportunities whilst Dehydrated Ready Meals and Canned Ready Meals are not presenting much growth prospects,” FFT said on a company blog.
What are the main drivers?
In terms of innovation, FFT pinpoints four main drivers: A push toward premiumisation; an emphasis on health; the introduction of more exotic recipes, with a focus on provenance; and the influence of private label.
“Consumers are increasingly looking for premium ready meals which offer a quality dining experience without having to leave the house. There is also a demand for healthier ready meals as part of a balanced diet,” the market researcher said.
“Quality marking and provenance labelling is becoming more important throughout Europe in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.”
The ready meals market is relatively fragmented, FFT said. It estimates that the leading eight companies in the sector accounted for one-third of total ready meal sales last year. It suggests that this could leave room for ‘intensive’ M&A activity in the coming years.
Nestlé was the top ready meal supplier last year, with an estimated 9.4% market share, followed by Permira (5.1%) and Dr Oetker (4.6%).