The opportunity to cater to Chinese mums with quick meal solutions

March 1, 2019
4 min read

In recent years, mums in China have increasingly been time-pressed as they find the sweet balance between family and career. In fact, Mintel’s research on marketing to mums in China reveals that two-thirds of Chinese mums claim they experience being short on time. Most Chinese families are holding onto the tradition that women or moms should be the ones responsible for cooking in the household.

What makes the situation even more difficult is that cooking Chinese meals at home is considered to be energy- and time-consuming among most consumers. The full process of creating a traditional dish from scratch takes up to at least 40 minutes. Therefore, Chinese mothers are on the lookout for solutions that will take some of the pressure off their shoulders, while still being able to enjoy a healthy and delicious meal.

According to Mintel research, the use of traditional frozen ready meals, such as dumplings and buns, have dropped among Chinese consumers, while frozen full meal sets such as frozen beef noodle, enjoy the biggest increase. This indicates that consumers are no longer satisfied with simple, single-serving frozen meals, and instead, are looking for full meal solutions. This is where manufacturers in the ready meal market can help, by offering convenient products that help Chinese mums prepare full meals for their families.

Providing a full and well-rounded meal

For Chinese families, a full meal, including a variety of dishes and flavours, makes dinner time the most enjoyable family time of the day. Although Chinese mothers often find their day overloaded, they still want to provide healthy, well-balanced meals for their family. This inevitably leads to the strong demand for quick, full meal preparation.

Dried Fish Maw Soup,  Thailand

This easy-to-cook soup is 100% natural and contains no preservatives. This product is sufficient for two to three servings and comes with noodles.

Minced Pork Sauce, Taiwan
Chamate’s minced pork sauce can be stir fried with different vegetables to make various dishes and can also simply be added to rice or noodles.

Premiumisation: More than just fuel food

Mintel research reveals that consumers with children have higher demand for health benefits from their food and, are therefore, more cautious about the ingredients they use. This is why Chinese mums tend to cook at home to ensure a safe and nutritious meal, as they will not compromise on safety or nutrition for convenience when preparing meals for their children.

To unlock growth among consumers with families, the ready meal market needs to meet their demands for safe, healthy, high-quality meal solutions and develop more premium products.

Global examples of premiumisation in the prepared meals market

Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry, Canada

This microwaveable product is made with simple real ingredients, contains 24g of protein and has no preservatives, artificial flavours or colours. The meal is said to have a fresh taste that’s unlocked by steam.

Simmered root vegetables with chicken, Japan

This ready-to-eat product is sold in convenience store chain Lawson and is a microwaveable product that is said to have a freshly cooked taste and contains no preservatives or artificial colouring.

Hema Fresh, China
(Source: 36Kr)
Hema Fresh has partnered with over 100 restaurant brands in 2018 to offer semi-prepared dishes which can also be delivered to homes through the app.

What we think

In recent years, food delivery services have experienced an explosive growth in China. It has reshaped the market environment of frozen/chilled ready meal businesses and also changed consumers’ needs and expectations. It is time for ready meal manufacturers to keep up with the market by expanding their product portfolio and addressing growing consumer demand.

Daisy Li
Daisy Li

Daisy is an Associate Director with the Mintel Food & Drink team, speciliasing in the China market. She monitors and reports on the latest innovation and trends impacting the Chinese food and drink market.

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