Convenience is a key driver for U.S. consumers who are increasingly turning to prepared foods purchased at the supermarket deli for in-home suppers, reportsThe NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y.

According to NPD’s DeliTrack, which tracks deli-prepared food purchases, consumers indicate that one of the top reasons they purchase prepared foods is for an easy meal at home.

NPD said its DeliTrack data finds that nearly half of deli-area prepared food purchases are in-store decisions. This aligns with findings from NPD’s upcoming report entitled "Before the Store," which studies consumer shopping habits and meal planning.

According to the report, the top challenges consumers face when planning and shopping for meals are getting new ideas and finding meals that are quick to make. While most purchases of deli-prepared foods are driven by habit and convenience, 10 percent are items buyers are trying for the first time.

According to DeliTrack, approximately one in five adults purchase a prepared food from retail in a typical week, said NPD. When making prepared food purchase decisions, consumers’ top picks are chicken or turkey items; sandwiches; deli salads such as potato salad; and leaf salads.These four types of foods account for just over half of all deli-prepared food purchases. 

“The popularity of deli-prepared foods is not surprising. We are a convenience-driven society. Picking up a prepared meal in the supermarket deli along with other staples we might need for home represents one-stop shopping,” says Ann Hanson, executive director, product development in NPD’s food and beverage unit. “There are more prepared food options available at supermarkets today providing consumers with both variety and the convenience of buying a prepared meal along with their other groceries.” 

Hanson, who is author of a report entitled, "A Look IntoThe Future of Eating," which analyzes eating patterns over the next decade based on population changes, generational influences and trends, said that convenience in terms of reducing or even eliminating the amount of food preparation is a trend that is expected to grow over the next decade.

“Prepared foods represent an opportunity for growth,” says Hanson. “Consumers are looking for a way around having to cook and deli-prepared foods are one solution for quick and easy meals in the home.”