Ready to Eat Meal Solutions Go Global
Consumers are all so pressed for time, and it never seems like they have enough. They want a “good for you” meal solution that is convenient and craveable. For these reasons, convenience with nutritional relevance and craveable flavor is imperative. The category of ready to eat (RTE) meals is on trend and delivers the specific consumer requirements for a fast-paced consumer lifestyle.
In today’s market, frozen microwaveable TV dinners are a blast from the past. New technology is available to us that helps provide convenience paired with nutrition. Product development has many new technical platforms for RTE meal solutions. Today we have vacuum sealed packaging (VSP), high pressure pasteurization (HPP), heat-sealed refrigerated packaging, frozen/fresh style retail and simply made fresh and served fresh. The latter has a very short shelf-life but can be the most attractive from a “lack of processing” standpoint. It is closest to the farm-to-table movement and is not processed which meets millennials’ needs and desires. Flavor will always drive consumers’ repeat business and interest.
In store Home Meal Replacement (HMR) from large chains like Whole Foods has taken this category to another level, providing a variety of specialty meals mostly made from scratch. They offer a range of American Regional Trends that the culinary world refers to as “Flavor ART,” a term we have coined as the focus on American cuisine. Flavor ART has become recognized as a rich form of flavor and culture.
The global options for RTE meals are expanding into new markets. The emphasis on authenticity, locally grown, full flavor, all with a healthy halo will inspire product developers for years to come.