The Top 6 Prepared-Foods Segments

center of convenience store

For many consumers, the definition of “prepared foods” conjures up one image: fresh fare. But prepared foods have branched out as frozen foods and center-of-store grocery items and now represent about 62% of the $63 billion expanded prepared-foods category, according to Nielsen’s Total Food View report released in June.

“It’s no secret that the center of the store has faced some challenges in the past few years, but in many cases, there are variants of products across other aisles that are winning,” said the report. “Prepared foods exist across frozen, dairy and packaged grocery worlds as well.”

There’s still room to expand the boundaries of the playing field, Nielsen said. Thanks to the popularity of items such as rotisserie chicken and pizza, the prepared foods umbrella is broadening further.

Click through to view the six leading prepared-foods segments across the entire store—fresh and packaged—and relevant news or product development in each.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock 

1. Frozen

panattiere breads

Frozen prepared foods led the way with 40% dollar share, reflecting total U.S. sales for a 52-week period ending May 5, 2018, according to Nielsen Retail Measurement Services-Total Food View. One emerging sector is frozen bakery, and the global frozen bakery segment appears poised for growth as it’s projected to register a compound annualized growth rate (CAGR) of 8.8% between 2017 and 2024, according to Global Market Insights. Grupo Bimbo acquiring Columbian-based Panattiere, a leading brand in frozen muffins, sandwiches, rolls and puffs, is one recent deal that illustrates the potential of frozen bakery.

2. Deli

ready carved off the cone gyro slices

Deli commands 31% dollar share of the prepared-foods market. One recent launch in this category is ReadyCarved Off-the-Cone Gyro Slices, an on-trend, versatile option for operators looking to add authentic ethnic flavors to their menus without the labor and equipment. Flame-broiled to a partial cook, sliced right off the cone and individually quick frozen, the gyro slices can be cooked at unit level on a flat-top grill, in an oven or microwave. Grecian Delight also offers a complete line of falafel, including dry mix, dough, preformed fritters and preformed pucks.

3. Grocery

nasoya tossables

Grocery owns 22% dollar share. Nasoya Toss’ables feature precubed, premarinated tofu that can be added to salads, pastas and more. Toss’ables, with 14 grams of plant-based protein per 3-ounce serving, come in Garlic & Herb and Balsamic Vinaigrette flavors and are packaged in a resealable pouch that must be refrigerated. Toss’ables have an SRP of $4.99.

4. Dairy

7eleven mac and cheese

Dairy-based prepared foods own 3% dollar share of the prepared-foods market. Last September, 7-Eleven Inc. introduced 15 new heat-and-eat meals described as “convenient, restaurant-quality meal solutions," including Macaroni and Cheese, Cheesy Tortellini and Cheese Lasagna With Meat Sauce.

5. Meat

tyson red label all natural

Meat owns 2% dollar share of the category. Tyson’s Red Label Chicken With No Antibiotics Ever line features popular chicken products and flavor profiles in tiered options that allow operators to better manage food costs and menu quality, the company said. There are 64 products in the line, including fillets, patties, chicken strips and boneless wings. All of the chicken is transitioning to being raised without antibiotics. Also available are 100% all-natural selections.

6. Produce

readypac bistro green goddess salad

Produce commads a small 1% dollar share of prepared foods. This past spring, Ready Pac Foods rolled out a limited-edition Bistro Green Goddess Salad With Chicken & Herbed Avocado Dressing. Featuring crisp, California-grown chopped romaine lettuce, diced carrots and crunchy radish with roasted white meat chicken, the salad is topped with chow mein noodles.