Consumers Want Prepared Meals Despite Dire Perception on Food Prices


Shoppers still want prepared meals at the supermarket, even as they see food prices skyrocket.

In fact, consumers perceive the price increases for prepared foods to be roughly four times what they actually are. Research from the latest edition of PYMNTS’ Consumer Inflation Sentiment study, “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: In It For The Long Haul,” which draws from a survey of more than 2,300 United States adults, finds that consumers perceive the prices of prepared food to have risen 40% year over year.

Read the report: Consumer Inflation Sentiment: In It For The Long Haul

However, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reported Tuesday (Dec. 13) reveals that, outside the typical categories such as meats, grains and produce, food-at-home prices have only risen 14% relative to 2021 — still a dramatic increase, but far from what consumers understand it to be.

Yet, even as consumers see prices rising out of all proportion, they increasingly seek out prepared foods at the grocery store, with these options still being less expensive than restaurant meals. Research from PYMNTS’ study “Digital Economy Payments: Consumers Buy Into Food Bargains,” which drew from a July survey of a census-balanced panel of nearly 2,700 U.S. consumers, found that 37% of consumers bought prepared food on their most recent grocery trip, up 7 points from the 30% of consumers who had done so back in November 2021.

Read the report: Digital Economy Payments: Consumers Buy Into Food Bargains

Consequently, noticing the strength of this part of their business, grocers have been expanding their prepared food offerings in a bid to win restaurant-wary consumers’