As home cooks search for faster and simpler ways to prepare nutritious and tasty dishes, demand for time-saving multicooker meal kits are creating an opportunity for food brands
KerryDigest Fast Facts:
- Despite hitting the mainstream market just a few years ago, today 25% of U.S. consumers own an Instant Pot® or a multicooker electric pressure cooker, according to Kerry proprietary research.
- This growing following represents a return to home cooking: 81% of consumers cook at home more than four times a week and 79% express a strong desire for convenient solutions for home-cooked meals, including even simpler multicooker recipes.
- The market is currently lacking convenient multicooker meal kit solutions, such as dry sides kits and cooking sauces, which represents a huge opportunity for food manufacturers.
KerryDigest Full Scoop:
With the built-in capabilities of a rice cooker, pressure cooker, sauté/searing pan, slow cooker and more, the versatile multicooker has taken consumer kitchens by storm. One primary reason for this surge in popularity: the countertop gadget cooks food up to 70% faster than conventional methods, allowing consumers to spend less time in the kitchen and eliminate steps in the cooking process.
However, many consumers are unsure of what meals to make in their devices. Multicooker “cheat solutions,” such as dry sides kits, cooking sauces or frozen meal kits cut down on time in the kitchen and help consumers create an even more instant meal. With few brands yet to enter the multicooker meal kit market, there are still plenty of opportunity—here are some facts and figures to keep in mind when considering creating products for the space.
Instant Pot®, the Ubiquitous Multicooker
According to The NPD Group (formerly known as National Purchase Diary), U.S. sales of multicookers surpassed $300 million in 2017, more than doubling 2016 figures. Online retailer Amazon has played a major role in bringing multicookers to the forefront. Electric multicookers are now the top wedding registry gift on Amazon, where the Instant Pot® is the most popular multicooker brand. (Conversely, 90% of Instant Pot sales come from Amazon, according to a recent New York Times article.)
Because of the visibility of the Instant Pot brand, many consumers now use the term “instant pot” to refer to multicooking—even if they own devices made by brands such as Crock Pot or Black and Decker. This vocabulary is increasingly common in Google searches. In late 2017, Google searches for “instant pot recipes” surpassed those for “slow cooker recipes” and the trend continues to grow. Our research shows that instant pot recipe searches reached the peak interest value of 100 in January 2018, experienced a period of decline at the start of the year and, as of July of 2018, are back on the rise.
A Renewed Interest in Home Cooking
Today, Americans prepare more meals at home than they did a decade ago. This revitalized interest in eating and preparing food at home is responsible for the rising popularity of Instant Pot and other multicookers. According to The NPD Group, in 2017 over 80% of meals were prepared and eaten in home. The at-home trend is even spanning across generations and demographics, although families with kids are more likely to want to cook healthy and nutritious food at home.
- 95% of millennials cook weekly at home, while 34% do so 3 to 4 times a week, according to last year’s Mintel Cooking Enthusiasts Report.
- 62% of millennials say they have basic or intermediate cooking skills; 55% cook simple meals made with only a few ingredients or meals that are quick to prepare, according to the Mintel report.
- Kerry Proprietary Research found 89% of consumers state the desire to make nutritious and healthy food for their family as the more important factor for cooking meals at home.
Capitalizing on Speed and Convenience
Most at-home dinners are still made from scratch, but this trend has declined in recent years because consumers do not have the time to prep ingredients and prepare homemade meals, according to NPD Group. Consumers want home-prepared, fresh and healthy food without the hassle of investing time and effort into actually preparing and cooking a meal. Electric multicookers have been sold as the perfect tool to simplify and speed up the cooking process.
Thousands of articles, blog posts, YouTube videos and more sing the praises of the electric pressure cooker. For example, according to NPD Group, “multicookers are hitting all of the hot buttons for today’s consumers—speed and convenience in healthy at-home meal-prep, multi-functionality, and ease of use. They are a great example of product innovation meeting consumer needs—multi-cookers are not a fad.”.
Helping Consumers in the Kitchen
The options for what to cook in an multicooker are seemingly endless. The Instant Pot community Facebook page—which has 1.5 million members—focuses on recipe suggestions and promotes the Instant Pot recipe app. Amazon carries over 1,000 cookbooks that target electric multicookers. Still, 80% of Americans don’t know what they’re having for dinner by 4 p.m. that same day according to research by Food Genius.
While consumers are sold on the ease-of-use and convenience of electric multicookers, judging from the plethora of articles offering up “Instant Pot hacks” and freezer meal kit ideas, many seem to want even easier solutions for making multicooker meals. This is in line with recent Kerry primary research, which showed 79% of consumers strongly express desire for convenient solutions for home-cooked meals.
Williams-Sonoma recognized the opportunity for multicooker meal-help early on, and has since partnered with the Instant Pot brand to create starter sauces and dry mixes. However, there is still no mainstream on-the-shelf multicooker solution available to consumers.
This presents a great area of opportunity for mainstream manufacturers that are able to create side and sauce kits that meet consumer demands for quick and convenient solutions without compromising on taste. Electric multicookers can cut cook times while mixes and kits simplify prep and shopping.
Dry side kits especially could work well for multicooker consumers. As home cooks try to recreate more complex dishes at home, they are looking for cheats to make it faster or easier. Dry sides kits can ease this pain point by giving home cooks more time to focus on the main course, and less time to spend in the kitchen, working on side dishes.
|Dish||Traditional Cook Time||Electric Multicooker Cook Time|
|Polenta||30 min||9 min|
|Risotto||30 min||12 min|
|Quinoa||15 min||10 min|
|Spanish Rice||40 min||10 min|
An Easy Reformulation to Tap a New Market
By renovating products in your current portfolio to work in electric multicookers, you may appeal to a wider market. Many current dry meal and side solutions can work as a multicooker meal with just minor adjustments. It’s also possible to leverage current wet and frozen sauce systems, as they tend to already work in multicookers.These are just a few applications that could be renovated to fill the multicooker meal kit market gap:
- Dry sides kits
- Cooking sauces
- Frozen meal kits
To learn more about our consumer insights on the dry sides kits, cooking sauces and frozen meal kits market, or to discuss ways your products can be reformulated to appeal to the multicooker consumer, contact Kerry. To see which trending ingredients and flavours might appeal to meal kit consumers, download our 2019 Kerry Taste Charts.
Kerry is not affiliated with Instant Pot®.