Prepared Foods Forecast: Promising and Bright

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Prepared Foods Forecast: Promising and Bright


Supermarket prepared foods will continue to gain steam at the expense of restaurants through 2022, according to a new foodservice forecast from The NPD Group. The promising prognostication from the Chicago-based market research firm  indicates instances of retail prepared food purchases for at-home consumption will increase by 10 percent over the next decade compared to a 4 percent increase forecast for commercial foodservice outlets.

While there is no one age group that takes greater advantage of the prepared food offerings from one retail outlet over another, needs were found to differ by age group, so finds NPD’s “A Look into the Future of Foodservice” report.

To wit: Adults 35 years and older are more likely than 18-34 year olds to turn to retail meal solutions to meet their in-home supper needs. Lunch-at-home interests, meanwhile, are also met by retailers with prepared foods prowess, particularly consumers aged 65 and older. However, consumers aged 18-24 were found to be more inclined than others to make purchases from these retail outlets to satisfy their interest in afternoon or evening snacks.

In terms of top prepared food items, younger adults are more likely than those older to purchase pizza, hot dogs and burgers (go figure!) to eat at home while consumers 50+ years, on the other hand, are more interested in purchasing both fried and non-fried chicken. Interestingly, however, as fond as they are of burgers, dogs and pizza, younger adults were found to pick non-fried chicken vs. fried chicken, according to NPD.

While the study reaffirms the insights we’ve steadily tracked among our core audience in recent years with our proprietary retailer-driven research, other noteworthy findings that caught my eye in NPD's newly released report include:

- Overall, prepared entrees purchased most frequently for take-home meals from retail outlets include chicken, pizza, and macaroni and cheese and sandwiches.

- Retailers with strong prepared foods cred will further benefit from increased visiting from those in their 30s, as well as Baby Boomers moving into their senior years, over the next ten years.

“Capturing visits from direct competition, like prepared foods retailers, has been the primary source for a restaurant operator’s growth over the past ten years and this will continue to be the case,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Efforts to pull consumers out of their homes and back into restaurants will require touting the benefits of eating out vs. staying at home and cooking or eating meals offered by home meal replacement retailers.”

Given the steady evolution, increasing sophistication, accelerated commitment and continuous diversification of progressive grocers’ prowess on the foodservice front -- such as that of Kings Food Markets’ show-stopping Market Square meal solutions mecca in its Gillette, N.J., store (photo above) -- I respectfully offer an educated, cautionary note to traditional restaurant competitors: good luck.