7-9 September 2023 Bombay Exhibition Centre,
ANUFOOD India 2023
Pressed for time? Say HELLO to Ready-to-Eat and Ready-to-Cook foods
Photo - stockking on Freepik
Author- Insha Naureen
Consumers nowadays are busy juggling their professional and personal lives. Hectic working hours leave less time to prepare elaborate meals. This is giving rise to the adoption of convenience foods like Ready-To-Eat (RTE) and Ready-To-Cook (RTC) foods worldwide. Socio-economic changes and urbanization also drive the demand for foods requiring less cooking time. The target consumers for RTE and RTC products are primarily teenagers, working professionals, bachelors, and children. These foods fit the bill perfectly for this demographic when it comes to a quick meal.
Ready-to-eat food is pre-cooked, pre-cleaned, and meant for direct consumption without any need for further processing steps to reduce or eliminate microorganisms, while ready-to-cook food can be prepared with minimal extra effort and is growing among the working women population. RTE foods include meals, snacks, pizza, pasta, lasagne, sandwiches, spring rolls, bread, and more. RTC foods include noodles, instant-flavored oats, frozen French fries, dosa/ idli batter, vegetable gravy mix, rajma masala mix, and chicken masala gravy mix, among others.
Key players in the RTE market in India are Bikanervala Foods, Darshan Foods, Gits Food Products, Haldiram Foods International, Heritage Foods, ITC, McCain Foods, McCormick and Company, MTR Foods, and Tyson Foods, among others.
For RTC foods, the leading companies in India include Bambino Agro Industries, Gits Food Products, Hindustan Unilever, iD Fresh Food (India), IndianFarm Foods, ITC, Kohinoor Foods, MTR Foods, Nestle SA, REGAL KITCHEN FOODS and more.
What makes convenience food dominate the market shelves?
RTE and RTC foods are the closest alternative to regular homemade meals and are refrigerated easily, require minimal heating and offer convenience to consumers. Below are some benefits that can be availed by including them in our lives.
Ready-to-eat foods are becoming increasingly available with advances in food innovations depending on demand. Companies offer a wide range of varieties to choose from, catering to all palates.
Since these foods reduce the time spent in the kitchen, consumers get additional time for relaxing, socializing, and hosting events. This helps reduce stress and allows consumers to enjoy a good quality of life.
Food manufacturers use technology to ensure products are released into the market after passing all quality checks. Emphasis is laid on employees following all good handling practices (GHPs)while preparing them.
In households where all the occupants are employed, more time is spent at work and traveling to and from work. These consumers have been found to purchase more convenience foods than those where not all house occupants are employed. Heat-and-eat convenience foods are popular in today’s fast-paced world.
Ready-to-cook foods tend to be competitively priced as the menu options are limited. Brands compete in terms of variety and prices to grab a larger market share, leading to reduced product prices. Additionally, with packed convenience foods, there is less food wastage, less purchase of ingredients, and leftovers can be refrigerated for later consumption.
Consumer Acceptance of Ready-to-Eat Foods
Consumer acceptance of convenience foods varies across the world. Their decision to purchase such foods depends on prices, food environment, financial resources, and time constraints. Adequate research has been carried out to understand this.
The popularity of RTE and RTC foods rests on factors like time-saving, family life, and domestic effort. Additionally, aspects such as low interest in cooking, disliking cooking, and growth in the number of nuclear families are pushing the convenience food category forward.
The rise of startups in the category offering healthy convenience foods using millet and plant-based ingredients is promising and the subject of research worldwide. Most of the developed countries in the world have already adapted to convenience foods in a big way and developing countries are slowly following suit. Moving forward, the category is bound to impact supermarket shopping and food retailing significantly.
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