A new report from research specialist Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md., called "Prepared Foods and Ready-to-Eat Foods at Retail," indicates that sales of ready-to-eat and prepared food items will reach nearly $32.5 billion this year, up 7.5% from 2011.

While sales continue to rise, supermarkets gain the majority of prepared foods purchase visits at 60%, followed by Walmart and convenience stores (15% and 12%, respectively). Packaged Facts also reports that the surge in sales is due largely to the accessibility to a wide range of household incomes.

The report also cited that "strong, high-quality, store-brand portfolios are a significant advantage for prepared foods retailers in keeping the price points of prepared foods down and part of the winning formula." Packaged Facts called out such retailers as Costco, Kroger, Safeway and Supervalu, all of which continue to grow and leverage their private-label products in conjunction with developing their foodservice programs.

Source: Packaged Facts