Perishable Prepared Food Manufacturers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 795 perishable prepared food manufacturers in the US produce fresh, ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat food that provide convenience for consumers. Products include pastas and noodles, processed fruits and vegetables, salads and slaws, pizzas, sandwiches and wraps, tofu, hard-boiled eggs, refrigerated snack packs, cooked meats, refrigerated soups and stews, meat pies and quiches, and packaged lunches.

Competition for Retail Shelf Space

Firms can lose access to markets if products are slow movers or expire on retailers’ shelves, as competition for shelf space is fierce, especially for refrigerated foods.

Healthier Prepared Options

Consumers are looking for convenient prepared food options that are healthier than fast food.

Industry size & Structure

The average perishable prepared food manufacturer operates out of a single location, employs about 83 workers, and generates about $27 million annually.

    • The perishable prepared food manufacturing industry consists of about 795 companies, which employ about 65,876 workers and generate about $21.7 billion annually.
    • The industry is concentrated with the 20 largest firms representing 60% of industry revenue.
    • Customer industries include food distributors, grocers, convenience stores, institutions, airports, and vending machine owners.
    • Large companies include Fresh Express, Fresh & Ready Foods, E.A. Sween Company, Reser’s Fine Foods, and Spring Glen, as well as divisions of large food manufacturers such as Kraft Heinz (Lunchables).
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Perishable Prepared Food Manufacturers Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Recent Developments

                                    Jan 30, 2024 - Producer Prices Declined in 2023
                                    • Producer prices for perishable prepared food manufacturers fell by about 10% in 2023 after rising 23.5% in 2022. The decline in pricing power came amid falling dollar sales for food as inflation eased in 2023 from 2022’s high levels. Employment by miscellaneous food product manufacturers, which includes perishable prepared foods makers, grew by 2.8% in 2023 through November. Sales for the US perishable prepared food manufacturers industry are forecast to grow at a 3.17% compounded annual rate from 2023 to 2027, slower than the growth of the overall economy, according to the Interindustry Economic Research Fund.
                                    • The food industry is pushing back against the US government’s probe regarding the health effects of heavily processed (aka ultra-processed) food, The Wall Street Journal reports. The industry is concerned that the government’s bid to get Americans to eat a more healthy diet could threaten profits. Opposition to ultra-processed foods – those foods most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colors or preservatives – is gaining traction, WSJ reports. Federal researchers are studying the health effects of processed foods and lawmakers are holding hearings highlighting their possible risks ahead of the next release of dietary guidelines, which tell Americans which types of foods to eat and how much. Big food companies, including Unilever and pasta-maker Barilla, are seeking to forestall those recommendations in the coming guidelines and defend food processing, arguing that it has made food safe, convenient, accessible, and affordable, per WSJ.
                                    • Meal kits and prepared entrees and side dishes are changing the way Americans cook dinner, creating new opportunities for food manufacturers and processors, Refrigerated & Frozen Foods (RFF) reports. Driven by consumers’ growing preference for at-home meals prepared with minimal effort, the meal kit delivery market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6% over the next decade, for a forecasted value of over $65 million by 2033, according to RFF. These drivers and the challenges and added costs grocery chains face preparing fresh foods and meals in-store are creating opportunities for food manufacturers to provide branded and private-label ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat meals. Companies such as Home Chef, Factor, and FreshRealm are investing to expand their infrastructures to meet rising demand from consumers and retailers including Amazon Fresh, Kroger, Publix, Meijer, and Walmart. Dole and Fresh Express are innovating with salad kits, per RFF.
                                    • Lunchables, sold in grocery store refrigerated sections since 1988, is making its way into school cafeterias and supermarket produce aisles, CNN reports. As of the 2023-2024 school year, the grab-and-go boxed meals, specifically made to meet federal nutrition standards, are available for sale and as part of the free school lunch program, according to a statement from manufacturer Kraft Heinz. To meet federal nutrition standards for the first time the meals include fresh-cut fruits, such as clementines, apples, pineapples, and grapes packaged next to the typical crackers, cheese, and meat options. Kraft teamed with Fresh Del Monte Produce to add fresh fruit. Fruit-enhanced Lunchables is also sold in grocery store produce sections. “The fresh fruit tray is packed in a way so that the freshness of the fruit is preserved while meat, cheese, and crackers are also preserved fully,” Kraft VP of Marketing and Strategy Vikramjeet Singh told CNN.
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