In today’s fast-paced world, people are spending a lot less time cooking. Working professionals, students, young families – you name it. It seems that everyone’s lives are too hectic to find time to prepare meals. Cooking has now become more of a hobby than a daily activity, and home-cooked meals are increasingly being relegated to special social events.

Sales of staple items such as flour, sugar, spices and sauces are falling, while sales of ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook foods are sharply on the rise. In Canada, sales of foods used in home-made recipes have dropped by 65% since the 1940s, while sales of processed/ready-to-eat foods have increased by 136%!

In the 1940s, most meals were made from scratch and the average family meal took 150 minutes to prepare. Nowadays, “cooked” meals are prepared in about 30 minutes and in the majority of cases, at least two different dishes are served. How is this possible? Cooking methods and the final outcome have had no choice but to evolve. Even though some people consider everyday cooking as simply heating up ready-to-eat food or arranging various prepared food items on a plate, today’s consumers have become increasingly demanding. The ready-to-eat meals you now find in your local grocery story are not all junk food. Today’s consumers want more than simply convenient, affordable meals.

They also care about the food’s nutritional value, eco-friendliness and the way in which it’s reheated.

The industry is working hard to adapt. In recent years we’ve seen a growing trend toward ready-to-cook meals: pre-portioned meals delivered right to your door. This healthy alternative allows you to cook fresh food, save time and eat better.

Factors influencing the market

  • Fast paced lifestyles / rapid urbanization
  • More women in the labour market
  •  Consumer lifestyles / fashion / trends
  • Growing desire to eat better / adopt healthy habits (less fast food)

The flip side is that the growing number of options out there can be confusing when it comes time to making healthy meal choices. What are your “kitchen habits”? Are you the traditional type who cooks all your meals from scratch, or have you followed the growing trend of ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat meals from a box?