According to Kantar data, in-home consumption in Mexico is on the rise with seven out of 10 main meals now prepared at home, an increase of 2.3 million each week compared to the previous year. The number of packed lunches - meals prepared in the home to be eaten outside – also increased by 8% on last year.
“We have detected that homemade food occasions are increasing by 4%, while ready-to-eat product occasions are decreasing by 3.5% and ready to eat dishes occasions are the ones decreasing the most with a 4.7% [fall] ,” said Mariana Cruz, out of home food manager at market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.
Healthy eating concerns
“Mexico is beginning to be conscious [of healthy eating], although not at the levels of other countries of the region like Chile or Argentina, and this is reflected in food preparation," said Cruz.
Purchases of fruit, vegetables and animal protein is on the rise, according to the market research firm. Chicken in particular has grown by 14% since last year because it is considered healthy and versatile and has a low price per kilo.
Another factor fueling this scratch-cooking trend is the current economic situation in Mexico as financial uncertainties drive households to find ways to save money. Eating meals outside the home has become a luxury, especially for families from low socio-economic strata.
One particularity of the Mexican market is its eating times.
“The main meal is between one and three pm,” Fabián Ghirardelly, country manager at Kantar Worldpanel Mexico, told FoodNavigator-LATAM. “Mexico is one of the few countries where this midday meal is more important than dinner, and it is still growing.”
However, the fact that most people are at work or school at this time and don't have much time to prepare food, means there is an opportunity for innovation.
Products should 'interact inside Mexican kitchens'
Food manufacturers can leverage this trend with products that “interact inside Mexican kitchens”. Even though ready meal purchases are falling, there are still opportunities for food manufacturers to develop products that make home-cooking easier.
Culinary aids, such as sauces, are on the rise in Mexico and the category still has significant scope for growth because penetration is not as high in some countries such as the UK, according to Cruz.
“[They] still have a very big opportunity in Mexico,” she added.
Kantar Worldpanel compiles its data from 8,500 weekly visits to households in Mexico, keeping track of every single purchase using a smartphone. The analyst scans the bar code of every product or manually inputs information for bulk or loose products, such as price, purchase day and category.
These households also keep an online food diary, describing the dishes they cook for each meal, the ingredients used and if it is eaten at home or to take away.