Convenience drives US prepared food purchases, says NPD

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Convenience is a key driver for US consumers, who are increasingly choosing prepared foods for easy at-home meals, according to market research organization The NPD Group.

Data from NPD’s DeliTrack service suggested that nearly half of all decisions to buy prepared foods were spontaneous and unplanned. The market researcher said that this tallies with its other research, which has suggested that finding new meal ideas and finding meals that are quick to make are among the top challenges for consumers when they are planning and shopping for meals. DeliTrack is intended to help food manufacturers identify new areas for business development and build stronger rationale for new product introductions, according to the service’s website.

Executive director of product development in NPD’s food and beverage unit Ann Hanson said: “We are a convenience-driven society. Picking up a prepared meal in the supermarket deli along with other staples we might need for home represents one-stop shopping. There are more prepared food options available at supermarkets today providing consumers with both variety and the convenience of buying a prepared meal along with their other groceries.”

She said that convenience, in terms of reducing or eliminating the amount of food preparation needed to serve a meal, is a trend that is likely to continue over the next decade.

“Prepared foods represent an opportunity for growth,”​ Hanson said.

The report found that about one in five US adults buys a prepared food from retail in a typical week. Although most of these purchases were driven by habit or convenience, about ten percent were first-time buyers, NPD said.

Hanson added: “Consumers are looking for a way around having to cook and deli-prepared foods are one solution for quick and easy meals in the home.”

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