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Convenience Foods in the U.S., Volume 1: Fresh Prepared Deli and Packaged Foods


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Following in the footsteps of Whole Foods, food retailers industry-wide have awakened to the fact that—when it comes to offering fresh prepared meals that are both convenient and appealing—they are often in a better position than restaurants to meet the increasingly specific needs of busy Americans. Accordingly, food retailers are emphasizing highly customized prepared foods for time-pressed shoppers to eat in or take out, and counting on gains in perimeter departments to help offset sluggish center-store sales. A key thrust is offering consumers healthier eating choices, given the juggling act most Americans are doing with food nutrition and convenience. For their part, marketers of packaged fresh convenience foods—including Fresh Express (Chiquita), Kraft, ConAgra, General Mills and Dole—are launching products that invite consumers to customize their own quick meals by combining pre-packaged and pre-cooked components.

This report examines the U.S. market for fresh prepared convenience foods sold refrigerated or hot to consumers at retail, through outlets including supermarkets, mass-merchandiser supercenters, warehouse clubs, convenience stores and vending. These products include prepared meals, entrees and side dishes that require no or little preparation beyond, for example, heating up or adding salad dressing. (Frozen convenience foods are covered in the companion volume to this report: Convenience Foods in the U.S., Volume 2: Frozen Prepared Meals, Entrees, Appetizers and Snacks.) Packaged Facts divides the market into two classifications:

  • Deli foods, including self-service and full-service deli items prepared in-store by food retailers for take-out or on-site consumption, such as rotisserie meats and other entrees, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, fruit and vegetable trays, side dishes, pizza and soup.
  • Packaged foods, including fresh refrigerated prepared foods that arrive at the store packaged and ready to be sold, often under leading national or regional brands, across ten categories: fresh-cut salad, dinners/entrees, lunch kits, prepared salad/fruit/coleslaw, side dishes, appetizers/snack rolls, hand-held non-breakfast entrees, fresh soup, pizza/pizza kits and breakfast entrees.

For each classification, the report provides extensive retail sales breakouts along with an examination of consumer trends, the competitive situation and future trends, such as the shift back toward smaller stores and hybridized food retailers/restaurants. It details marketers and brand shares across all ten packaged categories, and analyzes consumer attitudes toward nutrition and time constraints on a channel by channel basis. Companies profiled include major retailers emphasizing fresh prepared foods including Safeway, Whole Foods, online grocer FreshDirect LLC, and Tesco—whose new Fresh & Easy convenience store format is predicted to cause “seismic shifts” in this market—and marketers of fresh packaged foods Kraft Foods and Chiquita Brands International.


  • Executive Summary
    • Introduction
      • Market Definition: Fresh Prepared Convenience Foods
      • Exclusions
      • Report Methodology
    • Market Trends
      • Retail Sales Top $20 Billion in 2007
        • Table Total U.S. Retail Sales of Fresh Convenience Foods, 2003-2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Deli Foods Account for Over Half of Market
      • Entrees Top Prepared Deli Foods Chart
      • Packaged Sales Slip Despite Gains in Some Categories
      • Food Retailers Realigning Around Fresh Prepared Foods
      • Consumers Balancing Convenience and Health
      • Competition from Restaurants, Fast Food and Take-Out
    • Competitive Overview
      • Food Retailers Challenging Restaurants Head-On
      • Range of Retailer-Prepared Foods Rapidly Proliferating
      • Convenience Focus Spurs Shift to Smaller Stores
      • Demographic and Regional Market Targeting
      • Warehouse Clubs Ramping Up in Prepared Foods
      • Drugstores: Underdeveloped in Fresh Foods But Likely to Expand
      • C-Stores Also Getting Fresh
      • Online Grocery Retailers Staging a Comeback
    • Trends in Packaged Fresh Convenience Foods
      • Hundreds of Marketers
      • Major Consumer Packaged Goods Marketers
      • Produce Growers/Distributors and Meat Processors
      • Key Niche Marketers
      • Deli Prepared Foods Pose Growing Competitive Threat
      • Advertising Trends
      • Number of Entries Steady Across Most Categories
      • Top Marketing Claims: Convenience, Fresh, Upscale and Natural
      • Customize It!
      • Adding Ethnic Flare
      • Adding Gourmet Flare
      • Innovative Packaging
  • Chapter Market Trends - Highlights
  • Market Trends
    • Introduction
      • Market Definition: Fresh Prepared Convenience Foods
      • Exclusions
    • Market Size and Growth
      • Retail Sales Top $20 Billion in 2007
        • Table Total U.S. Retail Sales of Fresh Convenience Foods, 2003-2007 (in millions of dollars)
      • Deli Foods Account for Over Half of Market
      • Entrees Top Prepared Deli Foods Chart
      • Self-Service Deli Foods: Fruit, Sandwiches, Pasta and Entrees Make Healthy Gains
      • Entrees and Sandwiches Account for Three-Fifths of Sales
        • Table Supermarket Sales of Self-Service Deli Prepared Foods: By Category, 2002-2006 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Share of Supermarket Self-Service Deli Prepared Food Sales: By Category, 2002-2006 (percent)
      • Packaged Sales Slip Despite Gains in Some Categories
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Packaged Fresh Refrigerated Convenience Foods, 2003-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Packaged Fresh Refrigerated Convenience Foods: By Category, 2006 vs. 2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Packaged Fresh Refrigerated Convenience Food: By Category, 2002-2006 (in millions of dollars)
      • Supermarkets: the Primary Retail Channel
    • Market Trends
      • Food Retailers Realigning Around Fresh Prepared Foods
      • Consumers Balancing Convenience and Health
      • Blurring Between Meals and Snacks
      • Consumer Demand for Fresh Foods at an All-Time High
      • Revised Food Pyramid Favors Fresh Foods
      • The Global Palate
      • Food Safety in the Spotlight
      • Packaged Goods Manufacturers Fighting Back with Customizable Fare
      • Competition from Restaurants, Fast Food and Take-Out
    • Looking Ahead
      • Retailer-Prepared Deli Foods: Healthy Gains at Expense of Other Convenience Food Options
      • Better Deli Packaging
      • American Consumers: Busier and Busier
      • Growing Health Awareness, Ongoing Trends
      • Wealthy, Healthy Gourmets and the Obese Poor
      • Meals Blurring, Snacks Rising
      • Tesco's U.S. Entry Heralds Seismic Market Shifts
      • Channel Blurring
      • Natural and Organic Foods Going Mainstream
      • Growth of the Green
      • Technological Advances
      • The Return of the Automat?
      • Projected Market Growth: Retail Sales to Top Sales to Top $28 Billion by 2012
        • Table Projected U.S. Retail Sales of Fresh Convenience Foods, 2007-2012 (in millions of dollars)
  • Chapter Retailing Trends - Highlights
  • Retailing Trends
    • Competitive Overview
      • Food Retailers Challenging Restaurants Head-On
      • Range of Retailer-Prepared Foods Rapidly Proliferating
      • Convenience Focus Spurs Shift to Smaller Stores
      • Demographic and Regional Market Targeting
      • Warehouse Clubs Ramping Up in Prepared Foods
      • Drugstores: Underdeveloped in Fresh Foods But Likely to Expand
    • Supermarkets and Supercenters
      • Supermarkets Leading Food Retailers' Push into Fresh Prepared Foods
      • Fresh Format and Lifestyle Stores
        • Table Percentage of Traditional Supermarkets Offering Meal Solutions: By Type, 2007 (percent)
      • Emphasizing Health
      • Eating On-Site
      • Supermarket Take-Out Poised to Explode
      • Emphasizing Dinner and Hot Foods
      • New Product Trends
      • Natural Foods Retailers Moving Mainstream
      • Supercenters Freshening Up
    • Company Profile: Publix Super Markets, Inc.
      • Corporate Background
      • Driving Through, Eating In
      • Expanding on Deli
      • Customizing the Future
    • Company Profile: Safeway, Inc.
      • Corporate Background
      • The Lifestyle Format
      • A New Sit-Down Experience: Citrine
    • Company Profile: Whole Foods Market, Inc.
      • Corporate Background
      • A Natural Leader
      • The Whole Foods "Experience"
      • Bigger and Bigger, and Smaller
      • Adrift Toward the Mainstream?
    • Convenience Stores
      • C-Stores Also Getting Fresh
      • Emerging C-Store Competition
    • Company Profile: 7-Eleven, Inc.
      • Corporate Overview
      • Focusing on Fresh
      • Company Acquires White Hen Pantry
    • Company Profile: Tesco PLC
      • Corporate Overview
      • U.S. Expansion
      • Shopping Fresh, the Tesco Way
      • Filling the Ready-to-Eat Gap
      • Tesco's Market Entry "A Wakeup Call"
    • Online Grocery Retailers
      • Staging a Comeback
      • Amazon.Com Launches Grocery Delivery Service
      • Safeway and Other "Bricks-and-Clicks" Retailers
    • Company Profile: FreshDirect LLC
      • Corporate Overview
      • Focus on Fresh
      • Vertical Expansion
    • Vending
      • Sales Sluggish Despite Inherent Convenience Appeal
      • Vending Nutrition
      • School and Corporate Vending Leading Healthy Push
      • Get & Go Express
    • Consumer Attitudes by Retail Channel
      • Methodology
      • Most Americans, Though Time-Pressed, Are Trying to Eat Healthier
      • Supermarket Shoppers Middle of the Road in Food Health, Convenience Trends
      • Natural Food Store, Warehouse Club Shoppers Embracing Healthy Foods
      • Wal-Mart Clientele into Fast Food
      • Convenience Store Shoppers in a Rush
      • Drugstores and Dollar Stores at the Norm
        • Table Percent of Consumers by Retail Channel Who Agree with Selected Statements on Healthy Eating and Time Constraints, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Percent of Consumers by Retail Channel Who Agree with Selected Statements on Healthy Eating and Time Constraints, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Percent of Consumers by Retail Channel Who Agree with Selected Statements on Healthy Eating and Time Constraints, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Shopper Indices by Retail Channel for Agreement with Statement: Try to Eat Healthier Foods These Days, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Shopper Indices by Retail Channel for Agreement with Statement: Like Trend Toward Healthier Fast Food, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Shopper Indices by Retail Channel for Agreement with Statement: Don't Have Time to Prepare/Eat Healthy Meals, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Shopper Indices by Retail Channel for Agreement with Statement: Fast Food Fits My Busy Lifestyle, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Shopper Indices by Retail Channel for Agreement with Statement: Rarely Sit Down to a Meal Together at Home, 2007 (U.S. adults)
        • Table Shopper Indices by Retail Channel for Agreement with Statement: Often Eat Store-Made, Pre-Cooked Meals, 2007 (U.S. adults)
  • Chapter Trends in Packaged Fresh Convenience Foods - Highlights
  • Trends in Packaged Fresh Convenience Foods
    • Competitive Overview
      • Market Definition
      • Hundreds of Marketers
      • Major Consumer Packaged Goods Marketers
      • Produce Growers/Distributors and Meat Processors
      • Key Niche Marketers
      • Mergers and Acquisitions
      • Deli Prepared Foods Pose Growing Competitive Threat
      • Fresh Convenience Foods Add Value and Brand Cachet to Commodity Products
      • Tapping Non-Supermarket Channels
      • Advertising Trends
        • Table Selected U.S. Marketers of Packaged Fresh Convenience Foods
    • Marketer and Brand Shares
      • Methodology
      • Fresh Express Gains Amidst Fresh-Cut Salad Losses
      • Hormel Leads in Refrigerated Dinner Entrees
      • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Dominate Refrigerated Lunch Kits Business
      • Refrigerated Salad/Fruit/Coleslaw Primarily Private Label
      • Unilever, Northern Star Lead Refrigerated Side Dishes
      • Asian Favorites Rule in Refrigerated Appetizers/Snack Rolls
      • Private Label Almost Half of Refrigerated Hand-Held Entrees
      • Fresh Soup Also a Private-Label Affair
      • ConAgra's Gilardi Is Top Brand of Refrigerated Pizza
      • Bob Evans Farms Leads in Refrigerated Breakfast Entrees
        • Table Top Marketers of Fresh-Cut Salad by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Dinner Entrees by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Lunch Kits by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Salad/Fruit/Coleslaw by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Side Dishes by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Appetizers/Snacks by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Hand-Held Non-Breakfast Entrees by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Fresh Soup by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Pizza by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers of Refrigerated Breakfast Entrees by IRI-Tracked Sales and Shares, 2006-2007 (in millions of dollars)
    • New Product Trends
      • Number of Entries Steady Across Most Categories
        • Table Number of Fresh Packaged Convenience Food Product Reports, 2005-2007
        • Table Number of Fresh Packaged Convenience Food Product SKUs, 2005-2007
      • Top Marketing Claims: Convenience, Fresh, Upscale and Natural
        • Table Number of Fresh Packaged Convenience Food Introductions by Package Tag/Claim, 2005-2007
      • Stagnito Survey of Manufacturers Documents Key Trends in Prepared Foods
      • Customize It!
      • Adding Ethnic Flare
      • Adding Gourmet Flare
      • Salad Category Expanding with New Varieties, Kits
      • Ready-to-Cook Vegetables Use Advanced Packaging Technologies
      • Produce Getting More Exotic
      • Pre-Cut Fruit in Personal and Party Sizes
      • Adding Value to Meat and Poultry
      • Prepared Dinners and Entrees See New Ethnic Entries
      • Lunch Kits Go Natural
      • Refrigerated Sushi Is Hot
      • Innovative Packaging
    • Trend Profile: Chiquita Brands International
      • Corporate Overview
      • Not Just Bananas
      • Expanding in Fresh-Cut Fruits
      • Growing Fresh Express
    • Trend Profile: Kraft Foods
      • Corporate Overview
      • Fresh Salads a Fresh Focus
      • Oscar Mayer Extending Lunch Kit Equity to Adults
  • Addresses of Selected Marketers and Retailers

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