China Food

In depth | when the prefabricated dishes become old people’s meals: the purchase volume of silver haired people has increased by 190% in two years, and one person’s food has become the just need of the elderly!




Source: product map of a prefabricated dish brand on the e-commerce platform
It is claimed that the 5-minute return to the original hall meal is durable. In the past two years, the prefabricated dishes can be called a well deserved “protagonist” in the catering market. They not only carry the sales banner of various fresh e-commerce platforms, but also become the “Darling” of the capital market. Their stock prices have soared and financing has continued.
according to the consumption trend report on the Spring Festival in the year of the tiger released by Alibaba on February 6, during the Spring Festival this year, the sales of prefabricated vegetables in HEMA increased by 345% year-on-year, and the sales of prefabricated vegetables on Taobao increased by more than 100% year-on-year.
Ding Dong’s shopping data shows that during this year’s new year’s goods Festival, the food related to prefabricated dishes increased by more than 400% year-on-year, and 3million prefabricated dishes were sold in seven days.
under the upsurge of prefabricated vegetables, the living plight of the elderly living alone caused by the recent epidemic in Shanghai makes us focus on the middle-aged and elderly prefabricated vegetables market.
in the article “37 suggestions for the six major living difficulties of the elderly living alone | ageclub products”, in view of the cooking and eating health problems faced by the elderly living alone, we proposed that catering enterprises can innovate and develop the elderly prefabricated dishes (semi-finished products, quick-frozen food, self heating food), improve processing, freezing preservation and other technologies, ensure convenience and speed, and pay attention to fresh, healthy and balanced nutrition.
recently, we have also seen many catering enterprises donate prefabricated vegetables to the elderly living alone or nursing homes in the state of epidemic prevention and control to solve their living difficulties. The
epidemic has amplified many ordinary humble needs, and also made the prefabricated dishes, which are considered by many people to meet the needs of young people, have room for application among the middle-aged and the elderly.
however, regardless of the extreme situation caused by the closure and control of the epidemic situation, under normal circumstances, whether there are demand potential and opportunities for pre prepared vegetables to cut into the middle-aged and elderly people? Combined with the experience of Japanese catering market, we try to explore the answer to this question.
prefabrication dish race track hot
Silver haired people have the highest preference for prefabricated vegetables
Catalyzed by the epidemic situation, the consumption of home prepared vegetables in China has exploded in the past two years.
in the whole March, the sales of prefabricated vegetables in China increased by more than 100% year-on-year. In Shanghai, where the current outbreak of the epidemic is concentrated, the sales of prefabricated vegetables in the first ten days of April increased by 250% year-on-year.
undoubtedly, under the “tide of hoarding” at home, prefabricated dishes have become the hot air this year.
tracing back to the origin of domestic prefabricated dishes, it is accompanied by the emergence and rise of fast-food chain brands and takeout.
as we all know, in the catering industry, the standardization of dishes has always been a major pain point restricting the chain development of domestic catering enterprises. The emergence of prefabricated dishes has promoted the standardization of dishes, reduced the dependence of catering enterprises on the back kitchen, and also improved the efficiency of taking out meals. Therefore, at first, the prefabricated dishes were mainly used in b-end catering enterprises.
in 2020, home sealing and control brought about by the epidemic became the norm. With the advantages of simplicity, quickness and storage resistance, prefabricated vegetables gradually moved towards the scene of household consumption and began to rapidly penetrate the C-end.
at present, China’s Prefabricated food industry is generally divided into four categories according to the degree of processing: ready to eat food, instant hot food, instant cooked food and instant prepared food.
According to the Research Report on the development trend of China’s Prefabricated vegetable industry in 2022 by AI media consulting, the scale of China’s Prefabricated vegetable market in 2019 was about 244.5 billion yuan, the b-end market was 195.6 billion yuan, and the C-end market was 48.9 billion yuan; It is estimated that the scale of China’s Prefabricated vegetable industry will reach 345.9 billion yuan in 2021, with a year-on-year increase of 18.1%. According to this growth rate, many securities companies believe that the prospective scale of prefabricated vegetables can reach trillions.
Source: AI media consulting, Research Report on the development trend of China’s Prefabricated vegetable industry in 2022
The huge market space and the demand potential continuously released by the C-end have attracted many enterprises and capital.
according to the enterprise survey data, from 2012 to 2019, the registered number of enterprises related to prefabricated vegetables maintained an average growth rate of about 25%, and the number of new enterprises in 2020 was nearly 13000. As of January 27, 2022, there are 68100 enterprises related to prefabricated vegetables in China.
well known catering and fresh food enterprises, including Qianwei central kitchen, Anjing food, jiumaojiu, HEMA fresh food, dingdong food shopping, pot circle, Wangjiahuan, etc., have arranged in succession. Ruixing’s founder luzhengyao and Xibei’s founder jiaguolong also entered the venue in a high profile, adding fire to this already hot track.
from the capital side, investment and financing events related to prefabricated vegetables are also very frequent. According to the data of 36 krypton and tianyancha, 71 investment and financing events occurred in the prefabricated vegetable track from 2013 to 2021, with the total amount of financing disclosed exceeding 1billion yuan, involving 42 projects, and no lack of head capital.
under the upsurge of prefabricated dishes, the figure of middle-aged and elderly people is becoming more and more common.
recently, Jingdong consumption and Industrial Development Research Institute and Jingdong supermarket jointly released the 2022 instant food consumption trend report, which shows that people aged 36-45 are the main force in the consumption of prefabricated vegetables, accounting for 36% of the sales in 2021. At the same time, from 2019 to 2021, the number of pre prepared dishes purchased by Yinfa nationality increased year by year. Compared with 2019, the number of pre prepared dishes purchased by Yinfa nationality increased by 190% in 2021. And compared with the whole station, with the growth of age, the purchase preference of prefabricated dishes is higher.
Source: JD Research Institute
Zhangyuanming, co-founder of the well-known bittern chain brand Wuzhi bittern goose, has also publicly stated that Wuzhi bittern goose Tiktok live data accounts for the largest proportion of two types of users: one is “senior middle class”, the other is “small town silver hair”, both middle-aged and elderly users.
“in fact, many data show that it is not young people who prefer prefabricated dishes, but people over the age of 50. More than 50% of the audience of prefabricated dishes are people over the age of 50. It has promoted the scene change of ‘eating for one’, thus becoming a just needed category for the middle-aged and the elderly.” Zhang Yuanming said.
Focus on the elderly living alone and household consumption
Opportunities and prospects of pre prepared dishes for middle-aged and elderly people
The elderly, like the young, like to eat delicious food with complete color, flavor and taste. However, many elderly people can not enjoy mainstream food at ease due to poor teeth, weakened digestive capacity, or chronic diseases such as “three highs”. Therefore, meals designed to meet the dietary characteristics and nutritional needs of the elderly have a huge market space.
to explore the opportunities and prospects of the middle-aged and elderly pre prepared food market, we can take the development of Japanese catering and pre prepared food market as a reference. In Japan, the increase of the elderly is one of the important reasons to promote the rapid development of the prefabricated vegetable market.
Japan, as the country with the most serious aging in the world, has a large number of elderly people, which also makes it a leader in the development and regulation of elderly food for many years. Therefore, there are abundant foods designed for the elderly in Japan, including many prefabricated semi-finished foods, which can be eaten by the elderly simply by heating at home.
taking the care food as an example, it is a food that is easy to eat, chew and swallow by adjusting the physical state of the food for the elderly with chewing or swallowing disorders in Japan, so as to supplement the required nutrition. The food has been pretreated in the production process. After you buy it, you only need to heat it in the microwave oven for one to three minutes to get the finished food that is easy to chew and swallow.
as early as 2012, the market scale of care food has exceeded 100billion yen. With the continuous expansion of demand, its potential demand is 2.9 trillion yen (about 174billion yuan).
according to the statistical data of the Japan Association of care foods, the production of care foods in 2020 was more than 70000 tons, with 2100+ registered commodities, and showed a straight-line upward trend in recent years.
Source: Japan Association of care foods – statistics of the number of care foods
According to the survey data of Yano Economic Research Institute, the current market scale of care for the elderly treatment food in Japan is about 1 trillion 450 billion yen. When
returns to the domestic market, the number of elderly people is also increasing rapidly. They also have many difficulties in “eating”. In terms of scenarios,
is the first scenario of living alone.
the elderly living alone often have inconvenient legs and feet to go out, or they are less likely to go out due to the impact of the epidemic. Cooking is a complicated thing, involving many processes such as buying, washing, cutting and cooking. If the elderly have inconvenient legs and feet or other physical problems, each process is a burden for them.
with regard to the topic of “buying vegetables, cooking and eating”, ageclub visited the elderly offline. The elderly who were interviewed this time lived separately or alone with their children, and were over 65 years old. As for eating, the most common inconvenience faced by the elderly is mainly reflected in the following aspects:
the elderly living alone or only two old people live, and it is difficult to achieve food diversity when cooking. In order to make things easier, we have eaten “simple meals” such as steamed bread, porridge and noodles for a long time, and the nutrition is uneven. Even muscle atrophy, gum bleeding and other symptoms.
it is inconvenient to go out to buy vegetables. In particular, the elderly with inconvenient legs and feet, knee and lumbar joint pain will reduce the number of going upstairs and downstairs and going out on weekdays; Rain, snow or extreme weather is even worse.
after entering the old age, the intake decreases and the appetite decreases. The diet is restricted due to chronic illness or other physical reasons. Some old people say that sometimes they don’t have much interest in food and often don’t know what to eat at the dinner point.
during the normalization of COVID-19, especially during the period of control, people worried about infection and reduced going out or to crowded supermarkets, food markets and restaurants.
in the real voice given by the elderly, it is not difficult to find out the actual needs and future possibilities of prefabricated meals among the elderly living alone in China.
if we can provide the elderly with pre prepared food in the form of nutrition matching and simply heating, it will undoubtedly facilitate the elderly to eat to a great extent.
Fuping, director of the nutritional food branch of the Chinese gerontology and Geriatrics Society, also mentioned the application prospect of prefabricated dishes in the elderly in the interview.
in her opinion, a large number of elderly people in China suffer from malnutrition due to the degradation of chewing, swallowing and digestive functions. Therefore, the daily necessities provided to them should ensure that the raw materials are rich in variety and taste forms, fully meet the psychological needs of customers, and ensure the convenience and rapidity of home processing.
while the prefabricated vegetable food has obvious advantages such as storage resistance, rich food ingredients and easy operation. To a certain extent, it is a good plan to solve many difficulties of eating for the elderly living alone at one time.
followed by elderly care institutions and elderly food aid. Another eating scene of
elderly people focuses on elderly care institutions or community elderly care assistance meals.
elderly care meal is a hot spot in recent years, and it is also a highlight for many community elderly care stations to attract the elderly. However, in the actual operation, in addition to the common difficulties in distribution, many elderly care food aid restaurants also face various problems, such as high food research and development, high labor costs, insufficient space for meal preparation and so on.
in an interview with Beijing business daily, the person in charge of a catering company once mentioned that it is not difficult to pull out an elderly menu with rich dishes, but the actual energy and cost are far greater than the outside world imagined. For example, a state-owned catering enterprise in Beijing has engaged in the research and development of dishes for diseases such as hypertension, hyperglycemia and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. In addition to transferring technical backbones from various brands, it has also hired external nutrition experts. It has announced that it has allocated a special fund of onemillion.
pre prepared dishes can reduce the operating costs of these elderly food aid restaurants to a certain extent. Large elderly care institutions can design a standardized list of dishes for the elderly through the research and development of the central kitchen, and elderly care food aids without meal making ability can greatly reduce their dependence on the back kitchen, thus reducing the research and development, human and space costs, and ensuring the stability of the quality and nutrition of the dishes.
as a matter of fact, Fu Ping also said that it is a feasible scheme to apply prefabricated dishes to elderly meals.
the method she proposed is that the relevant research institutions or nutrition experts provide the nutrition meal formula, and then the central kitchen provides a reasonable set meal, which is delivered to the elderly care post station, and finally the elderly care post station sends it to each family, or the elderly go to the post station for meals. The realization of this form in Japan is precisely through the use of advanced technology to make prefabricated meals, so as to ensure the large-scale production of elderly meals by enterprises.
it is worth mentioning that in China, the rise of prefabricated dishes at the C-end is largely driven by the epidemic and the Internet, and the speed of market education is greatly accelerated.
therefore, in addition to the elderly, we also see more application scenarios of prefabricated dishes in the middle-aged and elderly market – family scenarios for the energetic elderly and middle-aged women.
according to the consulting data of AI media, the consumers of prefabricated vegetables in China are mainly over 31 years old, of which the consumers aged 31-40 account for more than 45% and the consumers aged 41 and above account for 18.7%. This kind of age group is the main force of kitchen consumption.
in addition, ageclub has integrated multiple platforms and visited and observed that in New Year’s Eve dinner, family gatherings and other scenes, prefabricated dishes have become the favorite of many middle-aged and elderly people, especially some special ingredients and dishes that are not easy to make in family kitchens.
at the payment level, there are both middle-aged and elderly people who buy it themselves, and children who pay for it to their parents.
for the energetic middle-aged and old people, most of them are in the stage of coexistence between the elderly and the younger generations. No matter in daily life or on New Year’s festivals, their food needs are not as simple as when one or two people live. They often have to prepare multiple dishes for each meal. The process is complex and time-consuming. For those who do not really like cooking, prefabricated dishes can undoubtedly free them from the kitchen.
at a prefabricated food salon held by blue shark consumption, a practitioner also mentioned that prefabricated food is mainly for families with old people and children.
in addition, linzhenghuan, a partner of Dingding lazy food, also said at the salon that the three types of people who do not cook, do not often buy vegetables and do not have children are not customers of prefabricated vegetables. “The value of prefabricated dishes is to make cooking easier, that’s all.”
it can be seen that in addition to the elderly, the middle-aged and energetic elderly are also the demand groups for prefabricated dishes. These three types of people mean a broad market.
in addition to the large population base, another great opportunity for the market of prefabricated vegetables to enter the middle-aged and elderly population is that the progress of cold chain technology has solved the multiple problems of taste, freshness and nutrition in the distribution of prefabricated dishes, which is also the main reason why many middle-aged and elderly people still have concerns about purchasing prefabricated dishes.
Exploring the future direction of the aged prefabricated dishes:
The dishes are graded according to the needs, and the B and C channels work at the same time
From the perspective of purchase trend and demand potential, the middle-aged and the elderly have a high probability of becoming the main group of prefabricated vegetables. However, from the market side, the focus of product development and marketing is still the main body of “lazy economy” and “one person eating” – young people. There are only a few catering enterprises that pay attention to the taste needs of the middle-aged and elderly people or are willing to develop products for the middle-aged and elderly people.
among them, the eating habits of young and middle-aged people are not very different. They can eat normal food, but many elderly people or people with diseases have unique needs for food.
therefore, we will discuss the development direction of prefabricated dishes for the elderly or sick elderly from the two dimensions of product development and promotion in combination with Japanese market experience.
1. Food Development: it is graded according to needs to be easy to chew and swallow
compared with the young people, the needs of the elderly for meals are not only basically safe and delicious, but also nutrition, easy to chew and swallow.
with the increase of age or illness, the physiological function and metabolic capacity of the elderly will decline, and their ability to absorb food nutrients, chew and swallow will decline significantly.
Fu Ping also mentioned in her speech that the occlusal ability of the elderly will continue to decline after they reach the age of 80. Even if their teeth do not fall off, their occlusal ability is only about 20% of that of the young.
therefore, it is a better way to solve the problems of chewing and swallowing for the elderly.
Japan, as a country with mature development of the elderly industry and the market of prefabricated vegetables, is very common in the application of prefabricated vegetables among the elderly. The scheme they adopted is to adjust the hardness and viscosity of food according to the elderly’s ability to chew and swallow.
the food for the elderly in Japan is a huge market, which is mainly divided into three categories according to different demand groups: care (care) food, self-care food and medical food.
based on this classification, the Japanese Association of care foods proposed the concept of “universaldesignfood”: foods that are easy to use in the range of daily diet to care foods can be classified as UDF foods.
mainly includes cooking and processing foods such as cooked and sterilized convenience foods and frozen foods, as well as making beverages and meals into viscous “paste foods”. These foods are actually similar to domestic prefabricated dishes.
Source: Amazon Japan station – kewpie flagship store “gum mashing” mixed package product map
With UDF classification as a reference, according to the degree of chewability, the Japanese care food association divides the food into four grades in terms of hardness: easy to chew, grindable with the gums, grindable with the tongue, and no chewing.
Source: Japan care food association UDF food classification
According to these grading labels, catering enterprises need to mark their products with the mark of “universal design food” for easy differentiation, and the elderly can choose according to their own needs.
take soft food as an example. Soft food is a common food form for the elderly. It is defined as a food developed for the elderly who have difficulty in chewing. It is similar to ordinary meals in appearance, but the actual hardness belongs to the food that can be crushed by the tongue.
Source: Amazon Japan – example of Japanese soft food
Japan has developed the reduction technology for specially processed meals, which can restore the softened food to its original shape, keep the nutrients from losing, and ensure the visual beauty as much as possible, paying full attention to the dining feelings of the elderly. It is helpful to stimulate the appetite of the elderly, ensure that the elderly eat reasonably and timely, and maintain the nutritional balance of the body.
2. Open up the market: the b-end +c-end simultaneous development
is similar to the current domestic market trend of prefabricated dishes. In the future, the elderly prefabricated meals can also expand and explore the market to the b-end and C-end at the same time.
to B: a catering supplier for elderly care institutions
elderly care food has become one of the core elements of the operation of elderly care institutions in Japan. The elderly food in Japanese nursing homes is personalized. Each elderly person will be equipped with a professional nutrition manager to customize a diet plan according to their physical conditions.
personalized nutritious meal is also a highlight of differentiated competition in many domestic medium and high-end elderly care institutions. Standardized processing in the central kitchen, mass production of prefabricated dishes, and distribution in the form of cold chain to various elderly care stations or elderly food aid points can not only effectively reduce labor costs, but also ensure the stability of taste and quality through standardized processes.
at present, in Japan, a relatively complete cold and hot chain logistics distribution system for elderly food suppliers has been formed, as well as a three-party linkage operation mode supported by various regional government departments. Elderly food is distributed to elderly care institutions and community elderly.
pension catering companies and pension institutions use advanced equipment to reduce labor costs and improve efficiency, and ensure food safety and quality through HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) system and kitchen management system. The rapid freezing technology is widely used in the central kitchen of
. Through the special rapid freezing equipment, it can achieve the effect of long-term food preservation on the basis of maintaining the taste and nutrition of food. It can not only save labor, but also improve efficiency and reduce costs. At the same time,
also provides different types of elderly care meals, such as ordinary meals, soft foods, liquid foods, broken foods, etc. according to the physical conditions of different elderly people. It is even so detailed that each meal is marked with the elderly’s name, precautions, salt, heat, nutrition and other key information.
after years of development in terms of R & D and operation mode, Japan’s elderly food has formed advanced and reasonable nutrition standards and technical requirements, as well as a profit system that most conforms to the operation of institutional facilities. Therefore, it is an important experience worth learning and reference in the operation of the B-END Market.
to C: with the help of elderly food aid as a promotion window,
elderly consumers are slower to accept Internet information and have a narrower information range than young people. At the same time, they prefer to consume with the help of the actual contact and experience of offline sites.
based on the food properties of prefabricated dishes, combined with the pension food aid that is being widely constructed and implemented nationwide, it is a good window to open the C-end market.
in February this year, the planning for the construction of urban and rural community service system during the “fourteenth five year plan” listed the planning for the construction of urban and rural community service system as one of the key special plans during the “fourteenth five year plan” period for the first time, in which the elderly food aid was listed as a priority.
subsequently, many provinces and cities in China successively issued policies on the construction and subsidy of food aid for the elderly. In the future, the elderly care buffet will become an “exclusive window” for the elderly.
compared with ordinary supermarket shelves, the large volume and variety of goods are easy to distract the attention of the elderly, and the food aid is concentrated on the meals for the elderly.
on the other hand, the needs of the crowd are highly consistent. The elderly who go to the food aid restaurant have the need for food aid. Most of these elderly people have the inconvenience of dining mentioned above.
by promoting nutritious prefabricated dishes that are suitable for chewing, swallowing and easy to process to the elderly through food aid, and by cooperating with good dining experience and atmosphere, the elderly’s sense of dietary well-being can undoubtedly improve their acceptance of prefabricated dishes.
therefore, compared with relying on the traditional advertising channels, it is the most direct and closest way to the elderly consumers to display and promote the prefabricated dishes in the elderly food and give the elderly the actual taste experience of “elderly food”.
Earlier, the state included elderly health as a key content in the outline of the “healthy China 2030” plan. Recently, in the notice on the key points of the healthy China action in 2022 issued by the office of the healthy China action Promotion Committee, special emphasis was once again placed on the implementation of the elderly health and nutrition promotion project and the elderly nutrition improvement action.
with the deepening of aging, the elderly’s attention and demand for diet and nutrition will continue to grow. More elderly food needs to be developed and marketed.
fully understand the preferences and needs of the new generation of elderly groups. In the future, China will also explore a broader and innovative elderly food market, and prefabricated food will occupy a large market share.
Reference: 1 Food alliance research: is the prefabricated food a real outlet or a fake demand 2. AI Media Consulting: Research Report on the development trend of China’s Prefabricated vegetable industry in 2022 3 Blue shark consumption: does prefabricated food not serve young people 4. surging Business Review: behind the hot prefabricated dishes, more people want to be liberated from the kitchen 5 Shenwan Hongyuan’s research: Research Report on the prefabricated vegetable industry: prefabrication spreads wings, and its scenery is blazing 6 Beijing Business Daily: breaking through the dilemma of elderly food five chain catering brands: after the large-scale also fails,
Author: Tan XueBei; Source: ageclub (id:ageclub), reprint has been authorized. Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);

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