Retail Butchers should take advantage of a new market opportunity - ready meals

If you’ve been to your local supermarket in the past few months, you may have noticed a new type of product has begun to be sold in large quantities. Ready made meals used to be fairly basic offerings of frozen pizza or sausage rolls, a few microwaveable trays with nondescript contents tucked away in a corner.

Now, the ready-made meal section in the local supermarket can take up a whole cabinet, and is filled with incredibly diverse, high quality meals from all cuisines and for all occasions.


It’s a great indicator of the current shift in consumers towards buying more convenient and fast meal options. It’s a trend that’s still growing quickly and doesn’t look like its going anywhere. In fact, according to IBIS Australia, the packed meal market has grown by 3.6% annually in the last 5 years, and is now worth around $600 million.


With today’s consumer only getting busier, it seems likely that high-quality ready meals will only grow in popularity. For many food-related businesses, this is a potential gold mine waiting to be tapped. A new, innovative way to offer products you already sell as a finished package.


Creating healthy meals with a heavy focus on your protein as the dish’s hero will appeal to a far wider customer base.


For example, for a retail butcher, it’s a great way to showcase how their products can be used in a full meal, as well as appealing to their more time-poor clientele.


One such butcher, who takes advantage of this new trend, is Meatsmith Heritage Butchers in Fitzroy. Among their more typical offerings of steaks and roasts, you will find a selection of curries, lasagnes and stews, cooked by their in-house chefs. As well as ready-to-eat delicacies such as confit duck legs and lamb bastille.


To make this offering even more appealing to convenience-loving shoppers, Meatsmith makes these ready-meals able to be bought online and collected instore, or even delivered.


… is now worth around $600 million.


It’s this idea of going the extra mile to make things easier for your customers that will keep this trend popular, and focusing on how you can simplify the customers journey from purchasing to eating a meal made with your ingredients is a great place for butchers to start when trying to enter this market.


For many butchers, including these types of products would involve making several changes to their business model, such as hiring chefs and trying to access a new market. But, as the popularity of the typical butcher shop wanes, accessing this popular new market may be a way for such businesses to keep with the times.


Today’s typical consumer is far more likely to buy an oven-ready beef lasagna than a beef roast. So, creating a ready-meal product not only helps you cater to customer preferences, but is also a great method of value adding. Instead of just selling the raw product, creating a meal out of it allows you to showcase the quality of your shop and modernize its image.


Creating healthy meals with a heavy focus on your protein as the dish’s hero will appeal to a far wider customer base, particularly the younger millennial group, famed for their ‘convenience is king’ attitude and high health-consciousness.


The potential of this idea of ready-made meals is far greater than most realise. As the quality of food and service being offered with these meals increases, they become more multi-purposed. Instead of being a cheap, one-off option when we’re too busy to do cook, it can become a way to experience personalized gourmet dining from home.


For all retail butchers looking for a method to evolve into a more viable business for today’s society, it would be wise to take a good look at their compatibility with this potentially massive new alternative in everyday eating.