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Dubai: Ready meals gain popularity as people get busier – News


Published: Monday, February 19, 2024, 8:11 p.m.

Last update: Monday, February 19, 2024, 10:53 p.m.

The popularity of ready meals is constantly increasing, according to experts participating in the 2024 edition of Gulfood. “Over the last five years we have seen a steady increase in the number of prepared meals,” said Ahmed Yahya, president of Water and Food at food group Agthia. “The trend has always been there, but as everyone gets busier, the popularity of these types of meals is growing by leaps and bounds.”

Gulfood, one of the world’s largest food and beverage exhibitions, kicked off in Dubai on Monday, bringing together more than 5,500 exhibitors from over 190 countries. The exhibition, which runs until Friday, February 23, is an opportunity for food and beverage industry experts to network, find business opportunities and explore innovations.

“The work that our mothers and grandmothers used to put into creating a meal is being reduced because there are so many other things to do,” Yahya said. “Nowadays, with phones, social media and so many other activities, people are under a lot of time pressure. This led them to look for meal and snack solutions. And that’s where ready-to-cook meals and snacks come in.”

Time crisis

His comments were echoed by Ashvin Subramanyam of food company Orkla. “As lives become busier and in most households both partners work, needs become more focused on making time,” he said. “Comfort is increasingly important. The definitive peak [of convenience] They are ready-to-eat meals.”

He said the change has been gradual. “About five or six years ago, that portfolio of our company was very insignificant,” he said. “We are now starting to see initial double-digit growth. The growth trajectory is going to be higher. It is a sign of growing prosperity. In the next three or four years, we expect about 10 percent of our business to come from ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat meals.”

However, companies face some challenges. According to Yahya, one of those difficulties is the taste factor. “Even when you opt for these types of meals, you want the flavor to reflect that of recipes made at home from scratch,” he said. “That’s why people look for authentic flavor. That’s where we try to leverage our strengths. “Across our range of frozen tandoori naan, paratha (flatbreads) and other foods, our strategy has been to make the taste as authentic as possible.”

New line

Another organization that is trying to capitalize on the convenience food trend is Emirates National Food Company. “We recently launched a roast chicken box that comes complete with marinated chicken, spices to top the chicken and salad to go with it,” said Ahmed Safaie, sales manager at Emirates National Food Co.

According to Ahmed, the product has been very successful in a short time. “A lot of people want to experiment and try new recipes for their families,” he said. “But trying to recreate a good roast chicken requires a lot of research and planning. Buying a ready-to-cook box like this saves you a lot of time. “It also gives them some control over the amount of oil they should use when frying and over using good quality ingredients.”


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