Global Ready Meals Market

Explore how the Top Ten Trends of 2024 can be seen in the global ready meals market

June 6, 2024 – The world of food is constantly evolving, and 2024 promises to be a year of exciting changes in the ready meals market. From the rise of plant-based options to the growing demand for locally sourced ingredients, consumers are seeking convenience, flavor, and sustainability in their meals. Here, we examine how five of the Top Ten Trends of 2024 can be seen within the ready meals market. These include: “Home Kitchen Heroes,” “Plant-Based: The Rise of Applied Offerings,” “Local Goes Global,” “Nurturing Nature,” and “Ingredients: Taking the Spotlight.”

Trend #1– Consumer Preferences in Home Cooking

The Top Trend, “Home Kitchen Heroes” refers to the growing trend of consumers seeking convenient and time-saving home meal solutions. This is driven by changing lifestyles, budgetary realities, and a desire to free up time for other activities. Innova’s ready meal trend research indicates that 43% of consumers have eaten more at home in the past year, while 15% have eaten out more. This consumer interest in meals prepared at home is reflected in the popularity of ready-made options that are both healthy and quick to prepare.

Consumers also find that the home allows for easier experimentation with flavor. Many convenience products provide more global flavor profiles that can entice consumers in this regard, such as Indian Tikka Masala ready meals. This trend is fueled by a desire to experiment with flavors and create personalized meals.

Finally, the ready meal kits are helping consumers who lack confidence in the kitchen. 31% of consumers who lack confidence in cooking say that they typically heat up a ready meal when they cook at home. The availability of detailed cooking instructions and easy-to-follow recipes is helping to further support these consumers. This, combined with the growing popularity of plant-based options, suggests a future where home cooking is both accessible and enjoyable for a wider range of consumers.

Trend #2 – Plant-Based in the Ready Meals Market

The Top Trend, “Plant-Based: The Rise of Applied Offerings” highlights the growing trend of plant-based alternatives adapting well-known formats, offering familiarity and clarity to consumers. Consumers are increasingly embracing plant-based products for various reasons, including health, environmental concerns, and a desire for dietary variety.

Half of consumers say that familiar culinary formats are important for them when buying plant-based products. This includes regional culinary staples like curry wurst, steak pie, and vegan versions of popular dishes. Ready meals and meal kits can be seen offering plant-based versions of consumers’ favorite foods, in an easy to construct format. Both meal kits, and ready meal main dishes products with plant-based or vegan claims have increased by 25% in the past five years.

Alternative proteins are helping drive new plant-based ready meal product launches –   particularly rice, bean, potato, chickpea, and pea protein, which are experiencing rapid growth. Plant-based ready meals are also gaining more space in the market with expansive offerings in both local and foreign cuisines, with consumers seeking familiar and adventurous flavors from around the world.

Global Ready Meals Market

Trend #3 – Locally Sourced, Globally Minded

The third Top Trend in discussion, “Local Goes Global,” refers to how consumers are interested in foreign dishes created with local ingredients. Two in three consumers globally say that they are open to trying new global cuisines.

In the ready meals market, East and South Asian flavors are gaining traction. East Asian flavored products are launched 11% more in the past five years, and South Asian products are launched 8% more often. Consumers are also invested in finding products with locally sourced ingredients. Authenticity of ingredients in ready meals is highly valued by consumers, with 62% saying that they pay attention to the ingredients’ origin on the pack.

Trend #4 – Consumer Interest in Sustainability

In the Top Trend, “Nurturing Nature,” consumers are increasingly interested in brands that demonstrate a commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

In the ready meals market, there has been a significant increase in the use of biodiversity-related claims, with a 16.8% average annual growth rate in product launches. Similarly, protection-related claims, such as forest protection and deforestation, have seen a 9.3% growth in the ready meals market.

Consumers are increasingly interested in ready meal products with energy related claims, such as green energy and renewable energy. Alongside, ready meal products launched with these claims have increased in the past five years. Regenerative agriculture is another fast-growing claim on ready meal products, with consumers highly aware of the farming methods used to create their products of choice.

Trend #5 – Star Ingredients in Ready Meals

The “Ingredients: Taking the Spotlight” Top Trend highlights the growing implementation of star ingredients, with brands highlighting the positive qualities of key ingredients in their products. Consumers are increasingly interested in the ingredients used in their food, and they are looking for products that are made with natural, healthy, and sustainable ingredients.

Consumers are particularly interested in protein content, with 36% of consumers globally citing “protein” as an important ingredient. This is reflected in the increasing popularity of ready meal products with boosted protein content, such as whey protein. Furthermore, consumers are seeking out products made with what they consider “real” and “natural” ingredients and are avoiding artificial flavors and colors.

Interestingly, fish and seafood are the fastest growing ingredients in ready meals and side dishes. This may be due to the growing popularity of Mediterranean and Asian cuisines, which often feature fish and seafood. Emerging nutrient-rich ingredients such as konjac, seaweed, and millet are also of note. These ingredients are gaining popularity due to their perceived health benefits and their ability to add unique flavors and textures to food.

What’s Next in Ready Meals Market Trends?

Evolving consumer demands and innovative product development are helping drive the ready meal market into the future. Millennials and Gen Z are leading the charge for convenient meal solutions, with a strong preference for meal kits, pre-mixes, and heat-and-eat options. This trend is fueled by busy lifestyles and the desire for time-saving solutions. The plant-based movement is holding strong, with consumers seeking healthier, more sustainable options. Ready meals are adapting to this trend by offering a wider range of plant-based alternatives, including innovative protein sources like rice protein and fava beans.

Consumers are increasingly adventurous, seeking authentic flavors from around the world. Ready meals are responding by offering diverse cuisines, from Korean barbecue to Moroccan chickpea curry, catering to a growing appetite for global culinary experiences. Finally, consumers are demanding transparency and ethical practices from food brands. Ready meals are embracing sustainability by highlighting locally sourced ingredients, using sustainable packaging, and promoting lower carbon footprints. These trends suggest a positive future for the ready meal market, with opportunities for brands that prioritize convenience, plant-based options, global flavors, and sustainable practices.


This article is based on our report, “Top Trends 2024: Ready Meals & Side Dishes – Global.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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