• Premium ready meals to grow 68% in UK and US by 2014
  • US to maintain dominant position
  • Germany and Netherlands set for development

Sales of premium ready meals for in-home consumption in the UK and the US are forecast to increase by almost 68% between 2009 and 2014, reaching a value of US$2.21bn.

According to a new report from just-food, released this week, the US is expected to maintain its dominant position, with market value forecast to increase by over 58% to US$1.4bn by 2014.

During this time, the share of the frozen ready meals market taken by premium dishes is expected to increase from 13.7% to around 18%, as consumers increasingly trade up to more expensive products when eating at home.

The US market is also set to benefit from the continued proliferation of restaurant brands available via retail channels, the number of which is expected to keep increasing.

The report, Global market review of premium in-home dining – forecasts to 2014, said that between 2009 and 2014, the UK market for premium ready meals is forecast to rise from US$555m to US$810m, up by nearly 46%.

"Although it is likely that people will start eating out with greater frequency once the economic situation improves, the growth in demand for premium private-label foods is expected to benefit sales," the report said.

"Furthermore, both manufacturers and retailers appear committed to the premium in-home dining sector for the foreseeable future at least. Chilled products are expected to remain the mainstay of the premium ready meals category in the UK, since they are frequently marketed on a freshness and/or quality platform."

At present, the chilled sector accounts for nearly 85% of the UK market for premium ready meals, worth US$470m in 2009. Its dominance is expected to continue in the years leading up to 2014, mainly because premium dishes (especially of the own-label variety) have yet to appear in any great quantity within the frozen sector.

Elsewhere in the world, sales are expected to continue to develop in the more affluent Western European countries, especially Germany and the Netherlands where penetration of convenience foods is highest.

In Asia, the Japanese HMR sector appears set for further growth, and is forecast to reach between US$55bn and US$60bn by 2014. Much of this is likely to be driven by growing consumer interest in alternative ethnic cuisine and dishes, especially amongst the younger sections of the population.