One of the challenges in the food & beverage sector is to meet consumer demands to simplify meals while offering healthy, ecological, high quality food.
Eat well and quickly
Although the time spent having meals continues to decline, the French population spend on average 2 hours 13 min. per day at the table eating, and are the world champions in this category. Though they take more time to eat at restaurants, statistics clearly show that when a French person eats at home or work (excluding canteens), time spent is 30 minutes on average. This decline in time spent is also correlated to time spent cooking, which has fallen in the last 20 years.
The ready-to-eat sector clearly has a target population comprised of time-pressed consumers who do not want the burden of cooking or simply prefer using their free time differently. However, this increasingly demanding population also want their products to be better quality, natural, nutritious or customisable. These time-hungry, hyper-active consumers are currently looking for easy-to-prepare, quick solutions without skimping on nutritional value and flavour. More broadly, they want restaurant-worthy meals cooked at home.
A new generation of ‘fast-cooked’ food & beverages has sprouted. It offers prepared products with all the food already pre-cut, or pre-cooked. You just have to buy a few fresh items to complete the recipe. The concept of making home cooking simple has inspired companies to offer meal kits that let consumers choose the recipes they want, then most of the products are delivered directly. We are also seeing more ready-to-eat meals in the deli aisle designed to offer a ‘healthier’ option. Nonetheless, consumers would like to see more prepared meals for breakfast.
Supermarkets are also trying to attract this clientele with the argument of ‘freshness’ and ‘naturalness’ by selling ready-prepared meals on-site. They have microwaves available, self-serve salad bars, and cut fresh vegetables that are ready to cook. Supermarkets and superstores also have an important role to play.
Simplicity: an omni-channel strategy
Consumers are also demanding access to modestly-sized convenience stores that offer more targeted, personalised options. To adapt to new lifestyles, brands have developed models for convenience stores with an offer covering the 80/20 and long opening hours, including Sundays. The Japanese-American brand 7-Eleven is the pioneer in the field, open 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. They offer pre-cooked meals that you can warm up on-site or even an area with quick-cook products such as soups, croissants, pizzas, etc., a concept halfway between a fast food restaurant and a convenience store.
Retailers are also betting on the digital transformation of sales points for faster operations (checkout-free stores, dematerialised payments, personalisation of client contact using beacons, for example, which enables companies to send a message directly to the client’s telephone when they are within a certain distance of a store). The multi-national Amazon understands the stakes and is in the test phase for an automated convenience store concept called Amazon Go. There are no checkouts and all purchases are paid directly through the application.
Home deliveries are also more frequently used, and not only for junk food but for healthy everyday meals. Many restaurants are now offering delivery services for ‘real meals’ thanks to the development of specialised sites such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo or Just Eat.
Companies specialising in healthy, ready-to-eat, weekly menu planning have until now focused on the elderly, but are making the shift towards a new urban target with these consumers.
Mintel is the world's leading market intelligence agency. Founded in 1972, Mintel defines and refines its market intelligence expertise to determine prospective trends in consumers, markets and the analysis of new product launches. Combined with the recommendations of its international experts, this data allows you to make strategic decisions for your growth.
If you wish to discover the services of our partner Mintel, we invite you to contact them on their website: https://en.mintel.com/contact