Page 14 - Food&Drink Business Magazine July-August 2020
P. 14

Ready and rearing to go
With increased personalisation of meal choices and a pandemic at play, ready meals are seeing a resurgence with consumers. Kim Berry writes.
ACCORDING to GlobalData, the Asia Pacific region is the largest ready-to-eat/prepared meals market in the world, accounting for 32.5 per cent of the pie.
Rapid urbanisation, higher employment and busier lifestyles are driving the growth.
The region is set to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4 per cent from $42.4 billion in 2018 to $55.1 billion by 2023 for the sector, the researcher said.
In Australia, the ready meals market was valued at $853.61 million in 2013. In 2019 it had grown to $1.14 billion and is projected to be worth $1.58 billion by 2024.
GlobalData consumer insights analyst Shagun Sachdeva says: “The market is led by McCain holding the top position, private labels (largely led by Woolworths) remain the nearest competitor in the market, The Kraft Heinz Co. and Patties Foods being among the other leading providers.”
COVID-19 has seen people staying home and eating all their meals at home. The impact of that has been increased demand for healthy, nutritious ready-to-eat meals.
In June, meal delivery company Youfoodz announced an expansion of its ready meals business partnership with Coles. CEO Lance Giles says the company’s goal is to be the most accessible ready-made meal on the domestic market and being in all 820 Coles stores as well as Woolworths, and independents was a big step towards that.
It also drove new entrants into the space, with restaurants and cafés seeing business
opportunities to compensate for COVID-19 restrictions. In Sydney, hospitality behemoth Merivale developed meal kits and ready meals from some of its most popular outlets.
Restaurant group Chefs Gallery used COVID-19 to launch an ecommerce site with a do-it-yourself meal kits, healthy ready meals and frozen selections.
Coles general manager for fresh convenience, dairy and freezer Charlotte Rhodes says its research found one in three customers don’t have the time to cook from scratch and 52 per cent are not interested in cooking more at home, with chopping and cutting regarded as their biggest pain points with meal prep.
Earlier in the year Coles Group’s wholly owned subsidiary Chef Fresh bought Jewel Fine Foods. Jewel was one of the two major suppliers of chilled ready meals in Australia (the other being Beak & Johnston subsidiary B&J City Kitchen) before it went into voluntary administration in April 2019.
Since the acquisition, Coles has added more than 100 meals and side dishes to its Coles Kitchen ready meals brand.
Rhodes says: “Since COVID-19, we have seen a growing demand for Australian restaurant- quality food that won’t break the bank and provides healthier alternatives to fast food.
“This has driven the company to transform its ‘Food to Go’ department and launch its biggest-ever range of homestyle convenience meals.”
Meanwhile, Beak & Johnson has been a major player in the market for decades. Its subsidiary B&J City Kitchen is 77 per cent owned by Beak & Johnston Holdings and 23 per cent by Woolworths Group. B&J City Kitchen supplies nationally to grocery retailers including Woolworths, Coles, Metcash, and Harris Farm.
In June, it bought two ready meal brands from General Mills, Ready Chef and Pasta Master. It also has the licence from GM to produce Latina Fresh’s chilled ready meals category.
Beak & Johnston national brand manager Hannah McDonald told Food & Drink Business the acquisitions were exciting for the company and brand plans were being developed.
The company had a huge uplift in business during the height of COVID-19 but expected that to settle as restrictions were removed. Last year the company saw growth
  ABOVE: Restaurant group Chefs Gallery developed its ready meals business in response to COVID-19.
LEFT: Beak & Johnston launched high protein ready meals brand, Strength Meals Co. in 2019.
TOP RIGHT: Coles has expanded its Coles Kitchen range to more than 100 options.
14 | Food&Drink business | July/August 2020

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