If this is true in numerical terms, with data that indicates a substantial growth of the category with 86% of the purchase managers who have bought prepared dishes in the second part of 2012, Italian retail distribution has however moved towards this offer in an almost undifferentiated manner, not meeting the needs of a target in rapid evolution and in the search of solutions that are always new, both in terms of taste and service.
Looking at the Italian consumer in fact, the drivers for the purchase of ready meals are definitely linked to specific factors such as variety and taste, but especially in eating habits and in the socio-demographic evolution of the Italian consumer, where there is the start of emergence of new needs and habits. We are thus faced with a fragmented target, which now expresses different needs compared to when the category was born.
- Classic Drivers: practicality, quality, tasteNew
- Drivers: innovation, variety, information, sustainability, service
As is known, the UK has always been the country of the Private Label, and it is in fact overseas that for quite some time it has been understood that the future of retail and commercial brands resides mainly in the kitchen. The English market for ready-to-eat dishes is absolutely the most advanced one, indeed, reflecting the eating habits of the typical English consumer. The outcome of this is a sales space that is almost exclusively dedicated to ready meals and a breadth of the assortment that is truly immense. The communication has as its centre the concepts of quality and the genuine nature of the products offered, besides supporting the consumer in the navigation at the shelf.
Even France emerges as one of the most mature markets in the ready meals offer. Time is in fact more and more valuable, and to be able to shop for groceries with speed, or a bite to eat on the run is an increasingly common request of the consumer, that's how the Monoprix group launched in September 2003 the concept Dailymonop'. Inspired by the universe of the convenience store, it proposes a wider offering than traditional snack foods, and the possibility of consuming it in the store.
The German Rewe Group, one of the main world actors of the large retail distribution, has recently inaugurated its new food service concept in Cologne. Open next to a Rewe supermarket but accessible from a separate entrance, MADE by Rewe has a surface area of about 200 square metres. The assortment of the new format includes both ready-to-eat dishes and ones that are prepared on the spot and, depending on the time of day, with a menu that varies from pizza, pasta, soups, salads, sandwiches and snacks, desserts and drinks. The new concept allows the German consumers to bring home their food or to consume it in the restaurant area.
But the most interesting novelty is represented by the line of products called 'Smart People', composed of ready-to-cook dishes that include all of the necessary ingredients for their preparation, in addition to the relevant recipes.