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Ready Meals on the Menu

Southern Metropolis Weekly June 12, 2022

By NewsChina Updated Oct.1

Pre-prepared food, which only needs to be heated up, is expected to hit a market scale of 3 trillion yuan (US$440b) within six to seven years in China, if year-on-year growth can be maintained above 20 percent from 2023. Popular with young people, ready meals liberate commuters from tedious cooking and provide them with diverse cuisines. The booming business is shaping a holistic industrial chain from raw materials to catering while standardization is underway. In 2021, the output of crayfish, a popular summer cuisine, usually sold semi-cooked, surged by 22.4 percent to almost 422.2 billion yuan (US$62.44b), among which 303 billion yuan (US$44.81b) was from catering. Meanwhile, with capital expansion, listed companies are monopolizing supplies and narrowing margins for retailers. Yet China’s ready-to-eat food industry is still in its nascent stage, and few enterprises are capable of taking a lead in the market.