Let's talk HMR

WebFoodPros.com: Cooking For You: Let's talk HMR
By Gilberts (Gilberts) on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 10:12 pm: Edit

Can we talk HMR ? ( Home Meal Replacement)
The reason I ask here, where the professionals are, is to check if someone knows what happen to the HMR trend of the mid 90th? Is it dead? Has it ever been alive?
The Boston Market that went creasy and became the biggest flop in the food industry, 800 million dollars!
But, the problem is still here, the same. The frustrated consumer is still waiving his dollars asking for, : homestyle comfort foods, easy and convenient to obtain, complete meals, totally preparation free, ready-to-eat, high quality, cost effective, the
kind of foods consumers would cook for themselves at home, if they knew how, had the time and the motivation.
Can we talk about this!

By Chefferd (Chefferd) on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 11:32 pm: Edit

After working in a HMR concept, dishing up very good food and watchig it set in a cooler for 2 days. All I can ask is how good can 4 star, let alone any food be after sitting in a cooler or refrigerator for 2 days. Then taken out and microwaved? As Dundee said you can live on it but it taste like ****.
While I feel that this area is up and coming and will be with us for a long time to come, I don't feel like it is being executed very well.
But we'll keep trying as long as there is a demand.

By George (George) on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 07:47 am: Edit

I think that the supermarkets are taking over HMR. Most supermarkets around here (LINY) have been spending a lot of money redoing their stores and a large part of that redesign has included putting in hot food ready to go, extensive salad bars, grilled vegetable stations and sushi bars. They have the traffic and don't require a separate stop from the shopper at a dedicated HMR resource

In the wealthier areas stores like Sutton Place Gourmet offer high end products with a lot more variety and sky high prices.

It has to be tough for a small independent to keep up with this competition, unless they serve a niche like the very very well to do.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 03:33 pm: Edit

I agree, George.The big retailers have done the slice-and-dice on the specialty guys. Remember Kenny Rogers? I have seen the trend in grocery stores the past few years to allot more space for HMR products. I seems also to be across-the-board in terms of quality, too, with both budget and high-end retailers getting into the act.
The big food companies are also getting heavily involved. Most of the advertising I have seen lately by the Beef Industry is geared to HMR. The latest Hamburger Helper-type products I have seen advertised come with the "meat" included! Pre-cooked, throw in the microwave pasta with sauces are commonplace. "Easy Mac"! To me I see HMR everywhere. The only HMR chain I can think of is KFC, and think of what they are doing these days.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 03:56 pm: Edit

Think about it. Most grocery stores these days make you walk thru the deli/HMR section of the store to get to the dairy section for your 1/2 gallon of milk, stuck wayyyyy in the back.
KFCs' new advertising campaign features Jason Alexander urging us to come together and eat chicken as an alternative to fast food.

By George (George) on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 04:16 pm: Edit

Confessions time-
I actually like KFC Fried Chicken but prefer Popeye's spicy.

Out of curiosity I recently tried a relatively new Banquet product, their Turkey with Stuffing. I really didn't expect much, just something that would be edible. It was two cans of a turkey stew kind of stuff with a stuffing mix you added water to and dallopted on the top of the "stew". It was the most disgusting slop I've ever tasted. About 60% of the canned stew was a salty yellow food colored modified foodstarch thing, with a few pieces of mystery meat turkey and mixed veg. I've had some adequate frozen pot pies in the past but this stuff was vile.

One other venue that is turning out a decent HMR product is the Costco/Sams type stores. It is not fine dining but it is great for a working family trying to avoid the slop at McD's and BK.

By Zchef101 (Zchef101) on Tuesday, November 20, 2001 - 08:26 pm: Edit

As a whole the HMRers have not quite held their own. The supermarkets have been quietly winning their public perception battle of being able to provide quality prepared foods, but they have a long way to go. There is a huge untapped market of complacent, busy, time starved Americans out there that has not, up to this point been sevriced the way they want to be. Remember we are dealing with a population that likes to be served...KFC, Boston Mkts, etc. are not replacing the restaurant like service needed to sway them.
There is an opportunity for the entrepeneur to capitalize on this dynamic market filled with customers who have become lazy in a way and thinking they are starved of time.
I do not think the big HMR guys will in the end be the ones to be successful, or at least not the way they are doing it now.


By Gilberts (Gilberts) on Friday, November 23, 2001 - 02:32 pm: Edit

What if HMR was delivered to the consumer, instead of the consumer having to go and get it?
Two entrees, freshly prepared by professional chef, delivered hot, totally ready-to-eat? Would that be the utmost convenience? The hassle of going into a supermarket is what needs to be eliminated. The consumers asking for HMR are highly competent men and women, who, when it gets to food at home are driven to helpless frustration by the product and services around them.
What we need is a specially designed food carrier/container with insulation to hold the food hot long enough for delivery. Two hours should be maximum.
The food should be prepared in an independent kitchen, not supermarket, not restaurant, and should be for the only purpose of been delivered.
The internet could be used for viewing the menu, ordering and paying.
What do you think of that?

By Sandrao (Sandrao) on Saturday, November 24, 2001 - 05:20 pm: Edit

It seems that HMR means different things to different peoples.
What is the exact definition of HMR?

By George (George) on Saturday, November 24, 2001 - 05:39 pm: Edit

I doubt there is one that is the "official one".

I think something along the lines of


"Food prepared out of the home and ready to eat, that is brought into a home for a regular meal period"

could suffice.

But I'm sure there might be folks that disagree with that.

BTW I think the Bounty product I mentioned above would NOT really be a HMR product.

By Sandrao (Sandrao) on Monday, November 26, 2001 - 08:28 pm: Edit

Gilberts, where is that food carrier? It songs like you know someting! Or at least your idea seems the right one, but we need a way to bring the product to the consumer.
I,too agree that it must be independent from restaurant and supermarket. Restaurants have a dinning room to take care off and the supermarket will always want to sale TP, because that is where the money is for them.

By Gilberts (Gilberts) on Monday, December 03, 2001 - 09:48 pm: Edit

Yes, I have something, but because of patent protection, I have to watch what I say!!
George is right about the definition of HMR. It has to be ready to eat. I have been working on trying to solve the problem, it a one hand-held, reusable food carrier at the final stage of testing before the patent application. It is designed specifically for HMR. It will offer the utmost experience in supplying/delivering fine food, hot, totally ready-to-eat. The food is placed into a sealed chamber where the atmosphere is modified, MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) allowing for the food, like green vegetables, to still look fresh after two hours. The food container can hold two main entrees, meat or fish garni with a starch and at least two vegetables, the sauce is served in a small cup, and the whole thing will fit on any dining table without embarrassment. The system offers a lot of flexibilities in the kind of food to be served, as well as the quantity, two dinners or ten portions of lasagna, beef stew, or fancy hors d'oeuvres. It is designed mostly for home use, with the consumer in mind.
Any reactions!!

By Zchef101 (Zchef101) on Monday, December 03, 2001 - 11:54 pm: Edit

Gilberts, sounds like a winner. Will you deliver one or two entrees? What will it cost the consumer.
On the definition of HMR. I have to agree with Goerge...
"Food prepared out of the home and ready to eat, that is brought into a home for a regular meal period"
I dont agree the food has to be hot. The traditional Home Meal was cooked at home. It started out raw and with some shopping, preparation and clean-up then you ate a home meal. Take out the shop, prep, and clean and we have HMR.
Giving consumers a restaurant quality dinner that is easy to cook in their own oven.
Thankfully there is a lot of hungry people to feed and there is a lot of room out there.

By George (George) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 08:21 am: Edit

Sounds real interesting. Is it a disposable package or is it something that is reused?

There is (or was, I'm not sure if they are still around) a company in NYC that did HMR with custom little insulated bags with their logo on it. They were nylon and had to be picked up, cleaned and reused, which sounds like a considerable expense to me. You had to subscribe weekly. I'm sure any green vegetable put in them would be olive green in two hours if it was actually kept hot.

If you can keep it hot and the veg green for two hours sounds like a winner.

A texture that would be hard to keep hot for two hours would be crispy but I think that would be extremely difficult if not impossible because of the steam involved. (that's why all the fried chicken places have boxes that let the steam out and don't hold the heat very well)

The Pyrex folks have a line called Portables with different size and style pyrex containers in an insulated nylon container with jell pack you nuke to keep hot. Great for bringing a hot plate to a friends house or for a small off prem gig, but could be cost prohibitive for hmr.

By Sandrao (Sandrao) on Tuesday, December 04, 2001 - 07:52 pm: Edit

In Germany too they had a reusable carrier made by Ribbner, and was used for their Meals on Wheels program. I agree that for total convenience the food needs to be <<table ready>> no pots to wash, no shopping to do, that is a lot of time saved. Also saving on energy, gas, hot water, no kitchen cleaning, really songs like a winner to me.
I am curious, your MAP system is this where you have a patent. You say reusable, how many times?
Can you give us more information, I would be interested. The <<cookexpress.com in San Francisco was delivering partially ready to eat dinners, they didn't make it.

By Reggie (Reggie) on Thursday, May 02, 2002 - 01:28 am: Edit

Can anyone site statistics and/or demographics where HMR has been tried and succeeded or failed?

By Zchef101 (Zchef101) on Saturday, May 04, 2002 - 12:53 am: Edit

Hello Reggie,
Hope we can get this discussion going again, it has been a good one. What type of HMR you talking about? Ready to cook....ready to eat....or other? I think supermarkets are putting the most into it, but there is so much oportunity for this untapped market.
I don't have any stats, but have an idea of demagraphics. Basicly anyone who doesnt want to cook and would like more time to do other things could be a potential customer. I have likened this market to the mobile phone boon of ten+ years ago to today. Most people don't need a phone, but once you have one, you probably won't be without it. Same is true of dinner. If you can buy food RTC or RTE you will not go back. Of course there are certain expectations the purveyor has to live up to: Quality, consistancy, and value. That has been true in the food sevice business forever and this is no different.

By Gilberts (Gilberts) on Wednesday, May 29, 2002 - 10:36 pm: Edit

HMR as far as I know has never been really in action. Boston Market was the kind of initiator in that line, but that was a miserable failure. Any body heard of Foodini? Mobil oil was the financing behind, frozen entrees to be picked up, guess where? Well, at your Mobil gas station of course. That too was a failure.
In the late 90, Coca Cola spended a couple $millions to research HMR. The report was written for the supermarket industry. Nothing never came out of it.
In my opinion, HMR, to be successful, will have to be independent from supermarket as well as from restaurant. Why? HMR will have to be a specialized target market, not trying to do everything, everywhere at all time to everybody, that is called a generalized market.
HMR will be a special category in the food industry, and specializing is more profitable anyway!
I will dig up the definition of HMR published in mid 90 by Noble & Associate from www.foodchannel.com.
A bientôt.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 12:11 am: Edit

I've read all the above.
In Detriot years ago there was a program called,
Mother Waddles, it fed homebound people and the elderly.
There's also the program for people with Aids.
The Mother Waddles food was suppose to be pretty good, the other I don't know about.
So whats the difference between these and HMR's.
I don't get it.

By Gilberts (Gilberts) on Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 03:00 pm: Edit

This is the only definition I have ever seen that make sense
Notice the date, 1996 a lot of HMR went out since.
Why? That should be what to answer here.
I would appreciate your answers.
A bientôt !


Home Meal Replacement: A Foodservice Evolution

Published September 6, 1996; Updated October 1, 1996 ©1996 Noble & Associates; all rights reserved
The following report summary was created by The Food Channel as part of its continuing mission to identify, define and extrapolate food trends and their implications within the food industry. A complete copy of the report, including channel-specific trends, company profiles, charts and graphs is available for $195.
For more information, to order the full report, or to
contact The Food Channel by e-mail, or call
1-800-233-0294, ext. 226.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Home Meal Replacement Trend
2. Category Definition
3. Category Evolution
4. Growth Indicators
5. The HMR Consumer
6. HMR Challenges
7. The Future of HMR
8. Sources


The home meal replacement (HMR) category has been
identified by The Food Channel as a new paradigm for the
food industry that will have a long-term effect on the
makeup of the Food Terrain™. The future implications,
opportunities and challenges this trend represents to all
sectors of the food industry are great; the new paradigm
will affect how consumers now and in the future make food
choices and spend the One Food Dollar™.

Spurred on by changing consumer needs, the old paradigm
of distinct sectors for grocery and foodservice within
the food industry has been blurring, partially due to the
convenience-driven HMR trend. Pushing the paradigm shift
is the fact that consumers today are voicing--through
spending habits and opinion polls--their collective
desire for complete homestyle meal solutions that are
quick, varied, wholesome, convenient, preparation-free
and cost effective enough to eat every day. The food
theme of this decade's consumer seems to be this: "Give
me homestyle take-out meals like I would cook myself if I
had the time."

Of late, however, the HMR moniker has begun to experience
overuse, stemming from the fact that there still seems to
be a lack of consensus within popular and corporate
culture as to how the category should be defined. As a
result, the tag is being applied randomly to everything
from QSR burgers to speed-scratch dinner kits--a supposed
inevitability as operators try to capitalize on the
perceived hype and popularity of the HMR category.

The purpose of this discourse, therefore, is to properly
define home meal replacement--to separate the elemental
trend from concurrent developments that may merely be
faddish or competitively reactionary--and describe the
parameters within which HMR exists. Category background,
market drivers, and manufacturer opportunities will all
be examined. Finally, potential future developments will
be outlined. Manufacturers and operators who fulfill
these new expectations stand to profit and grow as a

Category Definition

Home meal replacements, as identified by The Food
Channel, have several core values. They are

* homestyle comfort foods
* primarily for off-premise/home consumption
* easy and convenient to obtain
* quick-service
* complete meals and meal components
* preparation-free
* ready to eat
* high quality
* cost effective
* appropriate for family sharing
* the kind of foods consumers would cook for themselves
at home, if they had the time, skill or motivation

By Retro (Retro) on Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - 10:10 am: Edit

Hi im highly intrested in HMRs they have a very large
part of my company.Im searhing for any product that some one would recomend.
Ive tried a few companys & theres been realy nothing
that relly grabed my eye or taste.
An so with the customre.
Ive implemented my own meals on wheels and has had a
lot better success but time managent doesnt always
add up plus shelf life isnt there.
Has anybody seen any liturature on recipes for HMRs.
Thankyou Retro

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