Have a ready-to-eat Thanksgiving!

by Monica Watrous
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CHICAGO – Prepared foods are landing on more Thanksgiving Day plates. Nearly 30 percent of consumers plan to add ready-to-eat items from retailers, restaurants or caterers to the holiday feast, according to a recent survey from Chicago-based market research firm Technomic, Inc.

The number of Americans who said they would use a food service source for part of their Thanksgiving meal has risen from 23 percent in 2011 to 29 percent this year. Of those, 19 percent plan to purchase prepared items from a grocery store or retailer, 6 percent said they would use a restaurant or caterer, and 4 percent plan to use both.

“Technomic research consistently shows that consumers view restaurant meals as a way to connect with family and friends,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. “Using prepared foods for holiday meals at homes has the same effect; it gets hosts out of the kitchen sooner so they can really enjoy time with their guests.”

Consumer perception of the quality and freshness of prepared foods at supermarkets has improved, with more than 40 percent of shoppers buying more prepared foods than they were a year ago and about half buying the same amount, according to Chicago-based research firm Datassential. Supermarket food was rated good or excellent by more than half of shoppers in a study involving more than 2,000 grocery shoppers.

Brian Darr, managing director at Datassential, said grocery stores may improve sales of ready-to-eat items by promoting particular dishes that are more difficult to prepare.

“If they promote things like the most tougher-to-prepare-at-home foods — the roasts, the barbecue, things that take more time or have a lot more cleanup — they can potentially generate more traffic to the area and convert some of those visitors to buyers,” Darr said.
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