Recently, we conducted a pilot study on home prepared meals, looking at trends over an average four-week period in 2018. The research utilised the unique NPD research ‘true tracker,’ where participants log answers every day over the course of the research period (in this case, four weeks); and the results were eye opening.
In a time when everything is moving towards greater convenience, it turns out that the tried-and-true home cooked meal is still the most desired option for Australians, with nine out of 10 consumers having a home prepared meal made from store-bought ingredients. In fact, on any given day, an astounding 75 percent of Aussies said they have a home cooked meal.
I’m surprised by these findings. After all, the market has been slow to address the needs of consumers seeking convenience when eating at home, which is why I expected to see more consumers opting for frozen and ready to eat/ready to heat meals over fresh product. And all of this is happening despite an increase in home cooking items that tout convenience (frozen foods, ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat, meal kits and the like). It seems the desire for fresh continues to outpace convenience. And, yes, millennials are playing a key role here, though their impact is still low when compared to consumers choosing to prepare meals from start to finish using fresh ingredients purchased in store.
So, what’s happening? Is it cost? Are Australian consumers becoming more health conscious? It’s too early to say for certain, especially as more options are becoming available to suit the time-strapped consumer. Whatever it is, it would be wise for manufacturers to jump on the opportunities being presented to them.