Market Needs and Consumer Demands for Convenience

Over the past 30 years, many changes have occurred in consumers' lifestyles and food preferences. The fundamental change is in relation to the traditional roles of women, one of which in the past was meal preparation. With more than 60% of women in industrialized countries in the workplace, the time previously available for shopping and food preparation has decreased very substantially. The result is that today, with the need for convenience, many consumers are prepared to pay with their disposable incomes to have shelf-stable convenience foods that require a minimum of preparation. In fact, the consumer is indirectly asking the food industry to take over a part of, or in some cases all, of the more time-consuming steps associated with food preparation. The food industry has responded to these consumer demands by providing a variety of high-quality, more nearly fresh, easy-to-prepare, preservative-free foods packaged under a modified atmosphere. One surprising result has been that the proportion of family disposable income spent on food has been decreasing.

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