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Ready-to-heat Rice: The exploding $160 billion industry

The ready-to-eat food category is rapidly expanding due to factors such as the prevalence of fast-paced lifestyles in urban areas leading to a rise in demand for precooked on-the-go meals. According to Grand View Research, the global ready meals market size was valued at USD $159.15 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% from 2020 to 2027. The change in food-consumption patterns due to increasing urbanisation is driving the market for instant foods, ready-to-eat rice being one of the fastest-growing meals in consumer popularity. In developing countries, the changing lifestyle of people and the increasing influence of western culture are catalysing the growth of the ready-to-eat meals industry in those countries. Chaotic work & study schedules are resulting in people buying Ready-to-Eat products and meals, which are easy to cook and less time-consuming.

Uncertainty surrounding the health effects of consuming packed and frozen food, along with the market players’ inability to maintain quality and consistency of food products during transportation and storage are impeding the market growth. However, grocery chains are also expected to experience profitable growth opportunities during the upcoming years due to the rise in the number of organic ready meals, technological advancements, and the establishment of strong supply chain networks in both developing and developed nations.

Rice is the staple food of more than half of the population of the world. Outside of Asia, consumption is continuing to grow especially in Africa and Latin America where it is the fastest-growing staple food. Global rice consumption remains strong, driven by both population and economic growth.

Asia has witnessed transformational growth in the packaged food industry over the past decade or so. Largely populated developing economies like India and China are fuelling a rise in acceptance of convenient instant foods owing to changing lifestyles, an increasing number of working professionals, and a growing inclination towards western culture. Consumers across Asia prefer ready-to-consume instant foods as they require minimal time to cook and come in a variety of options, with an ever-increasing demand for ready-to-eat rice. The growing demand for minimally processed and additive-free food products with an extended shelf life is also expected to fuel market growth.

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