Ben Cavender

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, surprisingly got public again by investing in “Hangzhou Ma’s Kitchen Food”, selling prepared food. Business analyst Ben Cavender looks at the new move at CNN. “Packaged meals are becoming increasingly popular,” he told CNN.


The Chinese market for ready meals — food that is ready to heat and eat — was worth about 71.1 billion yuan ($9.9 billion) last year, up about 28% from 2018, according to Euromonitor International.

Demand for other types of pre-packaged food has also shot up, with the market for meal kits — food boxes that require simple assembly or cooking — nearly tripling from 10.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in 2018 to 29.1 billion yuan ($4 billion) in 2022, Euromonitor data showed.

While the focus of Ma’s venture is not immediately clear, “this is a space that has a tremendous amount of room for innovation,” said Ben Cavender, managing director of China Market Research Group, a strategy consultancy.

“Packaged meals are becoming increasingly popular,” he told CNN. “Consumers in some cases are choosing these meals as they are trading down and not dining out as much, but are also choosing them for access to variety and due to time constraints.”

He said habits formed during the pandemic — to stay in and opt for convenient food options — as well as an economic slowdown in China were likely prompting more people to turn their attention to the space.

“If, instead, this ends up being more about sales of fresh foods like fruit, there is also demand for a wider variety of high-quality options and reasonable prices, and this is a space where his ties to e-commerce … would add value,” Cavender added.

More at CNN.

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