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RTE food packaging markets – Insights on trends and future by 2025
Friday, 30 October, 2020, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Medha Varanasi
India is a developing country with growing population and increased urbanisation. Along with the growing population there is also a change in the lifestyle of people which includes increase in the number of working women and those who are staying far away from home. Even though India is a growing country there is an increasing demand now and in the coming future for ready-to-eat food products in the market due to the busy scheduled lifestyles, as they are helpful in saving time and effort.

These ready-to-eat products are divided based on 1. Product Type 2. Packaging Type 3. Distribution Channel 4. Region. The product type includes vegetable and fruits, meat and poultry, cereals and others. The packaging type includes chilled, canned, frozen and others.
These ready-to-eat food products have and are still in increasing demand as they can be opened and instantly eaten within minutes with no additional cooking. This increased demand also made companies to develop various range of products and also their marketing tactics have gained attention.

These products include instant noodles, soups and other innovative ready-to-at south Indian dishes. These RTE foods need packaging with extra care as there are chances of spoilage.  The ingredients used in these RTE foods are mostly unhealthy, but with changing trend recently there is a raised health-consciousness among consumers along with cost sensibility.

The biggest challenge
Urbanisation and globalisation have changed the lifestyle and eating habits of most of the Indian consumers. This is the biggest challenge for marketing RTE food products in India by producers.

With these increased challenges and consumer demand there is a continuous innovative development in the packaging industries along with improved technologies. The focus on RTE food products mainly is food quality and safety which includes preventing microbial growth and avoiding contamination with increased shelf-life.

Recent packaging trends have improved and are focussed on using bio-based and nano packaging by replacing the artificial and plastic packaging materials. These packaging techniques also include modified and controlled atmospheric packaging which has shown greater results with increased shelf-life and quality.

Lunches, meals and so on are available airtight sealed which last fresh for a longer period. Increased tourism and willingness to spend for ease of life due to lack of time to cook have increased and these are reasons for RTE foods to gain popularity. Among these RTE foods, meat and poultry foods have been gaining importance and are expected to share larger segment in the market in the future dominating other food products. Past Covid-19 this might even gain more importance as safety is of greater concern in recent times.

New technology
Development of individual quick-freezing technology also helps to freeze meat and poultry products at -30°C to – 40°C temperature which preserves meat and poultry products for longer duration sometimes even for a year with no depletion in attributes like colour, taste, texture and flavours till it reaches consumer.

Packaging plays major role in RTE foods as the quality of products need to be maintained longer and in safe condition in present situations. Packaging RTE market is segmented as frozen, canned, chilled, and others. The frozen segment is expected to account for a lion’s market share in terms of value over the forecast period.

The frozen food packaging segment is segmented into many small and medium scale manufacturers who are focussed mainly on product development and packaging materials raising the RTE food market trend in upward direction globally.

The major trends recognised in the segment include adaptation of new technologies, high focus on export, innovative promotional techniques, exhibitions and events, gaining special attention, launching innovative and region-specific products that help to gain popularity across worldwide. Multiple supermarkets and hypermarket are emerging as the key points-of-sale offering a wide range of RTE food products manufactured by leading companies keeping in mind all the food safety regulations.

Segmented into six regions
Region-based global RTE market is segmented into six regions which are North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa among which North America holds the largest market share of the overall ready-to-eat-food market globally over the forecast period in the US majorly due to high disposable incomes, technological innovations and busy lifestyles, next come European countries. This is because consumers here prefer easy to go food due to fast-paced life and work culture which results in these convenient products developments and increased demand in market.

Thus, concluding we might see an enormous increase in these RTE food products, which also increase the market for packaging materials so, the RTE food packaging market has many chances over the years to gain demand in future as people are more focussed on easy lifestyles due to their busy schedules and fast life. And also increased health-consciousness is another reason for development of many innovations in these RTE food products which gained attention in recent years and this trend might go up in the future.

(The author is M Tech food technology student at Jain University, Bangalore. She can be contacted at varanasimedha@gmail.com)
 
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