China Food

Sauerkraut fish, pork tripe chicken Hundreds of billions of prefabricated dishes looking for the next category opportunity


When prefabricated dishes gradually become part of the family diet, which kind of prefabricated dishes have a better chance to win? Globally, what are the new opportunities for prefabricated dishes?


By Maggie Zhang

Source: foodaily daily food (id:foodaily)

With more and more funds and players joining in, the fire of prefabricated vegetables has become an indisputable fact.


According to tianyancha data, at present, there are more than 68000 enterprises in China whose names or business scope are related to prefabricated dishes, of which 58% were established within 5 years; In terms of financing, from 2013 to 2021, there were 71 financing cases for prefabricated vegetables, of which the financing amount in 2021 reached billions.


In addition to the favorable capital and brands, prefabricated dishes also have a significant performance in the C-end market.


In 2022, the sales of prefabricated vegetables in the terminal market increased significantly. According to AI media, during the Spring Festival when Ding Dong buys vegetables, the sales volume of prefabricated vegetables increased by more than 3 times over the same period of last year. 3million pieces of prefabricated vegetables were sold within seven days, and the customer unit price doubled over the same period of last year; According to the consumption data of HEMA in 2022, the sales of prefabricated new year vegetables increased by 345% year-on-year; According to JD home data, the semi-finished clean dishes on the platform increased by 2.6 times year-on-year, and Western flavors such as sushi, French fries, roast sausage, salad and hot dog also increased by 3.5 times or more year-on-year.


The epidemic has accelerated the development of the prefabricated food industry. With prefabricated food becoming more and more a part of people’s table, which kind of prefabricated food has more development opportunities and will become the next popular category?


1. Insight into the essential needs behind hot prefabricated dishes

2. What prefabricated dishes are consumers buying?

3. Three breakout strategies for disassembling prefabricated vegetables

4. Take a global view and unlock innovation opportunities for prefabricated dishes




Prefabricated dishes are the inevitable result of the pursuit of dietary efficiency


First of all, we need to understand the essence of prefabricated dishes?


Prefabricated food is not a new concept. From the first time it appeared in the back kitchen of restaurants to now it appears in the home kitchen of C-end consumers, triggering a new revolution. The essence of prefabricated food is inseparable from the word “efficiency”. However, in the past, the field of prefabricated dishes was active in the b-end, which greatly met the demands of reducing costs, increasing efficiency and standardization of b-end catering, and improved the efficiency of chefs.


Now, the catalysis of the epidemic has magnified the pain point of the “cooking at home” scene of C-end consumers, and the “efficiency” revolution of the family kitchen has become a new proposition in front of us. In fact, with the awakening of living conditions and spiritual awareness, Chinese households are increasingly relying on the industrialized production of food, the Internet and the development of science and technology to improve the efficiency of cooking. Both the recommendation of recipes and the innovation of cooking utensils show that human beings have been pursuing solutions for efficient cooking. Some data show that the average daily time spent by Chinese households on cooking is 1 hour and 35 minutes. Compared with 2000, 45.9% of households spend about 45 minutes less on cooking in the kitchen.


Traditional cooking needs to go through cumbersome processes such as buying vegetables, washing and cutting vegetables, seasoning and pickling, and cooking. The emergence of prefabricated vegetables can greatly shorten the intermediate process of cooking and improve cooking efficiency. In other words, the purpose of prefabricated vegetables is to simplify cooking as much as possible. It is not only the embodiment of the current social consumption upgrading, but also the inevitable result of the improvement of dietary efficiency.


Young people are not the main force of consumption. The core pain point of prefabricated dishes is the scene of family cooking


Since it is to solve the problem of cooking, the main consumers of prefabricated dishes naturally belong to consumers with long-term cooking habits, such as young families with children, middle-aged and elderly consumers. For most younger consumers, prefabricated dishes may only be a new choice to experience the flavor of family life and the sense of ceremony.


Around the family cooking time, different prefabricated food brands have given more detailed scene insights, so that prefabricated food can more reasonably enter the table of consumers. Zhenwei xiaomeiyuan is aimed at young families who can’t cook. They are worried about cooking and “bring restaurant level delicacies into consumers’ refrigerators”. Zhenzhai puts forward a new definition of “Zhai food, Zhai cooking and Zhai social”, starting from the delicious food in the star kitchen world, to improve the cooking experience and emotional social links.


Dingding lazy food gives insight into the scene that “prefabricated food is a typical home cooking plus one dish”. With the increase of life pressure and the acceleration of the pace of life, one or both of the young families are working hard in their careers. The consumption of time and energy and the worrying level of cooking make it very difficult to have a good meal at home. First, they don’t know what to eat. Second, they don’t know how to do it. Especially for the new wet dads and wet moms, a healthy and nutritious diet has become a necessity, At this point, “adding a big dish” becomes a contradiction between supply and demand.


In addition to the young families with children, the family has a large number of meals, and can complete a table of delicious dishes with full sincerity in limited time and energy, which also makes the prefabricated dishes one of the first reasons for the older traditional family kitchen managers. For example, the Spring Festival banquet, where relatives and friends gather together, is a typical scenic spot of the prefabricated food market.



In the insight into the consumer group of sharing three meals, in addition to young families with children and young people who prefer to eat one meal, the middle-aged and elderly people with the largest base in the community are also regular consumers of prefabricated dishes. There are more reasons for them to buy prefabricated vegetables. For example, their children and grandchildren like to eat but they can’t cook them. For example, it’s troublesome to make them In fact, it will be found that some new consciousness of the previous generation who were traditionally trapped in the kitchen is awakening. They are also following the times to find better and easier ways to live, rather than spending a lot of time on the tedious cooking process.


Chenweican, the founder of Sanfen youliao, believes that prefabricated dishes are “a better way to solve the smoke and fire in life”. “Better” means, on the one hand, being quick and easy to solve the pain point of not having time to cook; on the other hand, it means being delicious and solving the pain point of not being able to cook. Another important thing is the sense of life experience. The whole family is eating hot food that has just come out of the pot. This is pyrotechnic, which is also the biggest difference between prefabricated dishes and takeout.





Who is buying it?


From the perspective of age group, the middle-aged people aged 36-45 are the main buyers of prefabricated vegetables. According to’s sales, in 2021, the number of pre prepared vegetables purchased by people aged 36-45 accounted for 36%, ranking first. It is worth mentioning that in 2021, the number of pre prepared vegetables purchased by generation Z increased by 137% year-on-year, while the number of tribute lotus roots purchased by silver haired people in 2021 increased by 19% compared with 2019. Generation Z, who enjoys the sense of cooking ceremony, middle-aged and young people who improve cooking efficiency, and silver haired people who catch up with the trend are all important promoters of the popularity of prefabricated dishes.


From the perspective of urban distribution, AI media consulting data show that young and middle-aged women in the first and second tier cities are the main consumers of prefabricated dishes. In terms of consumption frequency and price, among the main group of pre prepared vegetables, the proportion of buying once a week has reached 86%. In terms of price, users’ single consumption of 21-30 yuan accounts for the most, followed by 11-20 yuan and 31-40 yuan, accounting for more than 20%.


What dishes are more popular?


In terms of dishes, according to the platform data, salty meat dishes have become the choice of most people. Among them, pickled fish, boiled beef, potted vegetables, Buddha jumping over the wall and other hard dishes that are difficult to cook are more popular. In the popular list of prefabricated dishes, “small crispy meat” is also a popular item.


Source: magic mirror Market Intelligence

In the choice of cuisine, Chinese consumers generally prefer Sichuan cuisine. According to, in 2021, the turnover of prefabricated dishes of Fujian Guangdong cuisine, Jianghuai cuisine, Sichuan Hunan cuisine and northwest cuisine increased by 180%, 160%, 150% and 80% year-on-year respectively.


It is worth mentioning that being younger and more network like is becoming a new trend of prefabricated menu items. With the popularization of prefabricated dishes to C-end market education and the popularity of new kitchen appliances, the consumption focus of prefabricated dishes has gradually shifted from hard dishes shared by the whole family to younger, simpler and more convenient online Red dishes.


According to the data on what is worth buying, from April 1 to May 10, the prefabricated dishes with the highest sales volume were crayfish, French fries, roasted wings, hot-pot/" 22375 rel="nofollow" target="_self">hot pot and Coconut Chicken. Among them, the Gmv of crayfish increased by 65.69% month on month, and the consumption heat of chicken rice flower increased by 33 times month on month. The combined micro wave fried chicken, stinky tofu, Japanese roasted eel, crispy meat and other dishes also rose during the epidemic.


It can be seen that the white-collar people with family children in the city prefer prefabricated dishes, and if they want to capture their stomach, the meat dishes, daily dishes, and online popular dishes developed around small household appliances may be more likely to win.




Prefabricated dishes are in the primary stage of letting a hundred flowers bloom. Every enterprise is still in the stage of testing and exploration. It is still early to talk about the outcome. But at this stage, what are the feasible strategies for prefabricated dishes? We will analyze the logic behind its success from the three strategic directions of large single product, technology and channel in combination with cases.

Break through the big items to make differentiation


Big item strategy refers to a brand that competes with products and big item thinking. The characteristics of this type of brand are that the number of SKUs is small, the product itself has differences, and the brand resources are inclined to the supply chain. The advantage of operating with this strategy is that the product barriers are high. Once superior products are made, they can break through the encirclement, thus forming brand recognition and higher business efficiency.


In recent years, pickled cabbage and fish prepared dishes have become a hot item of prepared dishes. According to AI media consulting, in 2021, the market scale of Chinese sauerkraut fish prefabricated dishes has reached 590million yuan, and it is expected to reach 1.69 billion yuan in 2025; In terms of purchase frequency and price acceptance, the report shows that 83.2% of the consumers surveyed said that they would purchase pickled cabbage fish pre prepared dishes 1-3 times a week; 30.6% of the surveyed consumers can accept the price of pickled cabbage and fish prepared vegetables at 30-50 yuan.


Picture source: AI media consulting


Why can pickled cabbage and fish become a strong item?


The first is the characteristics of sauerkraut fish. The sour, spicy and addictive flavor of sauerkraut fish is more in line with Chinese people’s dietary preferences, and its “big dish” and troublesome properties are also in line with the consumption scene of prefabricated dishes. The rise of chain catering enterprises with sauerkraut fish as the main dish has also established a consumer awareness for the popularity of sauerkraut fish prepared dishes. Its taste has been recognized by the public and does not need to be verified in the market.


In addition, the high standardization of sauerkraut fish is an important reason why this single product can quickly get out of the circle. The most difficult guarantee for a prefabricated dish is “fresh”. The supply chain system of raw materials for sauerkraut fish, sauerkraut, fish fillets and seasoning bags has been very mature. The soup properties of dishes also make the taste and recovery of pickled cabbage and fish prepared dishes less prone to error than other dishes.



In conclusion, the success of sauerkraut fish lies in the superposition of the characteristics of popular taste, high user awareness, easy availability of raw materials, difficult cooking but high recovery. Combined with this underlying logic, dishes based on meat main ingredients + soup base + popular taste may become the next pickled fish in the prefabricated vegetable track, such as pork tripe chicken, boiled beef, etc.


How should the brand create differentiation for large single product strategy?


Dingding lazy dish, the pre prepared dish of pickled cabbage and fish, ranks first in the sales of the whole network. When summing up the successful experience of pickled cabbage and fish, he said that the first thing is to make the right product, the second is the real material, and the third is the ingenuity and patience for the process, taste and reduction. A product should be polished from details to perfection, such as the spicy degree of soup, acidity and freshness of fish fillet, so as to present a high score product.



The Tiktok platform is one of the marketing channels that the prefabricated food brand focuses on. The output of short video scenes makes the prefabricated food more vivid and intuitive to impress consumers. Dingding lazy food focuses on the live broadcast of Tiktok, and the self broadcast cooperates with Daren 24 hours a day, with more than 1000 pieces of material output per month; The red kitchen starts with the practice of prefabricating dishes and attracts the attention of users through teaching the correct practice of prefabricating dishes for crayfish and the eating method of crayfish; The oesophagus focuses on the scene, and outputs content from different scenes, such as “the little beast at home has been greedy for a long time”, “the essential fat reduction for fitness people”, “clean and delicious family breakfast”, to deepen the effect of product promotion.

Rooted technology creates a taste moat


Chinese cooking technology and taste are complex, so it is difficult to industrialize. How to keep the pot gas and eat the taste of becoming a monk from the dishes has become the difficulty in building the prefabricated dish strategy. Therefore, it will be easier for enterprises with rich experience and accumulation in the field of catering industrialization to enter the C-end prefabricated vegetable track.


Last year, it completed a round of financing of nearly 100 million yuan. Wangjiadu food, a Sichuan style prefabricated food, is a good case. The core idea of wangjiadu is to “transform craft into craft”. Li Peng, the executive deputy general manager, concluded that “the product development of prefabricated dishes is the result of the joint efforts of chefs and R & D engineers.”


This first requires the help of chefs to build a standard. As a food industry, the understanding of prepared dishes is often weak. It is the basis for industrialization to understand the flavor, process, heat, operation techniques and dosage of the dish through experienced chefs, and then to ensure that the dish is in the best state and analyze it in depth through multiple rounds of repeated production by chefs and the recording of details by high-definition cameras.


Secondly, manual simulation is also an important link in the combination of chef and R & D, especially for the problem of how to ensure that the taste does not change in the industrialization transformation project. This requires finding the key point to restore the taste at the operation end. For example, if you want to make a 300kg prefabricated dish have the same taste as a 300g prepared dish, you need to work hard on the heating utensils, change the traditional iron pot into a conveyor belt or a rolling frying pan, so that the dishes can be heated evenly to simulate the skills presented at the kitchen end to the greatest extent.


Finally, there is the difference of formula. When to feed? At what temperature? What ingredients are put in at what time? What kind of pretreatment should be carried out for raw materials? These small differences may become barriers to the research and development of prefabricated brand dishes.


Channel strategy, enter local families


Offline scenes are very important for prefabricated dishes. As the advantage of prefabricated dishes lies in meeting the family fireworks atmosphere with more efficient eating methods, how to meet the pain points of local families’ daily dining, and how to visualize and personalize them is the key to brand education and cost reduction.


Pu Wenming, founder of Zhenwei Xiaomei garden, believes that prefabricated dishes are channel driven at the current stage, and the community consumption scenario is the optimal solution for prefabricated dishes. Therefore, seizing the offline market is the top priority of Zhenwei Xiaomei garden.


“Three meals with materials” is a new retail platform focusing on building prefabricated dishes based on the research and development of prefabricated dishes to the supply chain. Its founder chenweican has the same view, “prefabricated dishes are a business that needs to be closer to local families for near-field interaction.”



The operating advantage of the channel type prefabricated dish brand is that it can have more room to play in the selection and supply of products through self built stores. On this point, chenweican concluded: “at present, there are 500 SKUs in our store, there are more than 1000 models in our product library, and there are more than 100 models of our own customized brands and co names with materials for three meals. Therefore, in the use of offline channels, he has a wealth of models, which can be bought while shopping in the store.”


For consumers who are unwilling to go to the store, the store also provides home delivery services. “The online mall orders with one click to help you deliver to your home, so the store has become a front-end warehouse, so we are actually both a store and a front-end warehouse. Therefore, this is a new model in which we actually integrate online play into the store model.”



This model enables consumers to have closer contact and experience with the brand. The uniqueness of offline services can also arouse consumers’ impulse to try. For the brand, it can also better solve the specific needs of local families and make more appropriate dish development.




In the innovation of prefabricated dishes, chenweican, the founder of Sanfen youliao, believes that data-driven is a very important point. Prefabricated food brands start from to B, often fall into the trap of factory thinking, and ignore the actual needs of C-end consumers. Only when we get a large number of real C-end market data, can we reverse deduce and make corresponding customization by using the advantages of the supply chain.


In terms of data sources, the preference data of dishes, ingredients and tastes of catering stores, the sales data of b-end catering and the single product and explosive product data of online platforms are all helpful for the brand to understand the target consumer groups in a more three-dimensional way and realize the prediction of product innovation and new air outlets.


In addition to the possible entry point in the local prefabricated vegetable market, what application values and consumption scenarios can the hot prefabricated vegetables tap globally?



Soup dishes have always been loved by Chinese people. According to the survey of Jinbao soup in 2010, 60% of families in China drink soup every day, and the country consumes about 500million bowls of soup every day, with an average of 4.6 soup per person per week, a total of 320billion soup per year.


With the popularity of health preservation among young people, soup, as an important part of dietary supplement, has received more and more attention from young people. More than 6.19 million notes related to soup have been searched in the little red book. Among them, how to stew soup, soup recipes, stew artifacts, etc. have become key words. Instant soup may loosen the Chinese tradition of soup making.



In the soup category, Baxters, a British brand, creatively launched three types of plant soup series in april2020. The series integrates a variety of fruits and vegetables into soup. Its inspiration comes from traditional recipes around the world, including Mexico, Sri Lanka and India, aiming to create vibrant, natural and healthy tastes for consumers. The combination of exotic fish, fruits and vegetables not only caters to the characteristics of young people who are keen to taste fresh food and pursue health, but also provides rich flavor and nutrition for consumers.



In addition to direct enjoyment, soup can also be used as topping. In March this year, Muji launched three new instant soups: corn soup, hot and sour soup and Italian vegetable soup. These three soups can be eaten with other staple foods in addition to meeting the conditions that the eating method is simple and the soup can be eaten after being heated through water. According to the official website, the thick and silky corn soup can be eaten with meal bags; Hot and sour soup tastes hot and sour. It can be eaten with rice and noodles; Italian vegetable soup tastes sweet and sour. It can be served with French baguettes and hard bread. One product is suitable for a variety of eating scenarios. Busy office workers can rely on it to solve their soup demands. Consumers with soup making habits can also use it as an ingredient on the table. It is flexible and changeable, meeting the different eating needs of consumers.

Vegetables, eggs


In the domestic prefabricated vegetable track, meat prefabricated vegetables have become a red sea, while vegetables and eggs, which are also universal and have fewer potential food safety hazards, have yet to be developed as healthier ingredients. With the popularity of plant-based products and the popularity of low-carbon, fat reducing and other lifestyles, in addition to becoming a hard dish to add smoke and anger to the table, can we start from the advantages of subdividing categories to solve the consumption pain points of specific groups?


American brand cali’flow mainly promotes cauliflower. Based on the advantages of low-carbon water and ketone friendly cauliflower, it has launched a series of instant foods such as cauliflower pizza, cauliflower biscuit, cauliflower bread and so on. The brand emphasizes simplicity, freshness and no addition. Each 255g box contains 3G dietary fiber and 27g protein, rich in trace elements such as calcium, iron and potassium. This product captures consumers’ demand for green and healthy products and makes cauliflower become a strong product from a weak one. Therefore, even though the taste of broccoli pizza may be lacking, it can still make people who are keen on slimming down and living a healthy life pay for it.



Just played more tricks on the eggs. Just uses mung bean and turmeric as the key ingredients to produce plant-based eggs. In addition to basic cooking, it can also be directly heated in a toaster fire microwave oven for instant eating. In addition, just also cooperated with Mikey, the breakfast producer, to launch a gluten free, dairy free and soybean free pre prepared breakfast meal. The meal covers eggs, plant cheese, vegetables, black beans and other categories. It is nutritious and fits the breakfast scene very well. This also shows the versatile and nutritious characteristics of eggs, which is very conducive to the integration with other categories into prefabricated dishes.

Bean curd


Among bean products, tofu is a kind of food material worth digging deeply. Tofu has been circulating in China for more than 2000 years and has a very important position on the table.


According to different processes, tofu has different forms of derivatives all over the country. Mapo Tofu, coated tofu, hairy tofu Tofu has not only made all kinds of delicious food, but also become an important source of protein for vegetarians. Therefore, not only in China, which is rich in tofu culture, but also in various countries around the world, tofu has played a lot of tricks.


The fast-food brand cauldron foods is famous for its tofu series. In addition to the common traditional tofu, its tofu series also includes tofu with pickled flavor and seafood sauce flavor to enrich the dining choices of vegetarian eaters. In addition, combined with the western eating habits and the relatively neutral taste of tofu, cauldron foods also launched direct edible tofu with Italian vanilla and tomato salad, as well as smoked barbecue tofu. The innovative formula of tofu prefabrication makes tofu no longer boring.



Tofu can also be a snack. The Japanese brand Nanqian tofu shop focuses on the quality improvement and shape improvement of tofu. It extends tofu to bean milk, deep fried tofu, tofu balls and other categories. It even sells grapefruit vinegar and natto, which are used to dip tofu. It has formed a wealth of surrounding bean products, which not only gives tofu a richer taste experience, but also meets people’s social needs, making tofu a social currency, It is favored by many consumers.




In recent years, the consumption upgrading has coerced the change of diet concept, the stock up fever caused by the epidemic, and the rise of the housing economy, so that the prefabricated vegetables have taken advantage of the wind and broke out in the consumer market.


At this stage, with the gradual increase in the selection of prefabricated dishes’ brands, balancing the contradiction between the rich supply of food materials, the homogenization of dishes and products, the low degree of industrialization, and the insufficient scene development has become the core problem that China’s Prefabricated dishes industry is currently facing.


The key to solving this contradiction is to learn from the experience of successful domestic product cases, look around the world, find potential entry categories, and how to form competitive barriers in the expansion of food scenes, the speed of product innovation, and the layout of the industrial chain, so as to create brand differentiation.


As a more efficient way of food production, the market for prefabricated vegetables will become more and more popular in the future. And what kind of innovation and development will be shown in the prefabricated dishes, and which categories will win in the circle, let’s wait and see!


On May 24, foodaily daily food invited guests and celebrities from the China prefabricated food industry alliance & industry experts, capital, track head brands, industrial solution providers and other industries to “what are the possibilities of new race track species for prefabricated food?”? “Discuss the track innovation opportunities of to C pre prepared dishes together! Scan the code to view the live playback.

Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246); Related reading

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