Data from Nielsen shows that convenience is among the most common themes across the fastest-growing categories by dollar sales for manufacturers and retailers.

While other factors such as niche trends made an impact, it looks as if convenience was incredibly significant in its role. Food Dive reports that the fastest-growing food and beverage categories with more than $10 million in sales in the 52 weeks leading up to Oct. 29 included items such as refrigerate breakfast entrees, refrigerated appetizers, liquid tea and coffee, and lunch combinations.

This data suggests that ready-to-consume foods and beverages are on the rise.

“Convenience is driving a lot of what we're seeing to be flying off the shelves in stores. It's really shifting a lot of the balance of power, and this is a trend that has continued for a little while now,” says Jordan Rost, VP of consumer insights at Nielsen.

Prepared foods are seen as a middle ground for consumers between going out for a meal and preparing one at home. Foods like sushi that can be picked up and enjoyed later are a major time-saver for individuals with busy schedules.

These convenient foods are also aligning well with health trends. The “snackification” of products has allowed consumers to find quick meal options that also satisfy nutritional needs. This is especially important for bakeries that offer lunch options. Items like pre-packaged salads allow customers to address dietary and convenience concerns.

“Consumers still want all the other things they are looking for in food, but that extra layer of convenience is still a priority,” says Rost.