Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Frozen Food Court Continues Courting Restaurant Customers


At the intersection of branded food sales and consumer demand grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food continues to resonate with consumers.  While new avenues of distribution continue to open-up driving customer trial, the frozen food court is increasingly playing a larger and larger role for many families according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

While, frozen foods proved to be a pandemic powerhouse in 2020, when concerned consumers stockpiled their freezers with longer shelf-life items during the height of lockdowns. The latest report finds 30% of Americans expanded their freezer capacity in 2020 and are still shopping to keep their freezer stocked.

According to American Frozen Food Institute’s (AFFI) 2021 "Power of Frozen" report found frozen food sales up another 9.2% this year. The report compiled information from IRI in partnership with Arlington, Va.-based FMI – the Food Industry Association the report aims to bring an understanding of consumers' perceptions, attitudes and behaviors regarding frozen food. 

Should restaurant worry about price, well according to Johnson if you look deep into the 2021 "Power of Frozen" report it shows that consumers are invested in their frozen foods. “Preparing more meals at home during the pandemic highly favored frozen foods and their longer shelf life — and even prompted consumers to invest in additional freezer space. The report found that 30% of Americans expanded their freezer capacity by adding a second fridge/freezer combination or a stand-alone freezer in 2020.”

So, consumers are not stupid, they are not letting their investment go to waste, consumers continue to highly engage with the frozen food aisle. Over the last 52 weeks ending late May 2021, frozen food sales are still up 9.2% versus the same period a year ago. This is 4% higher than the 5.8% increase in sales seen for all foods and beverages. Branded food retailers need to consider entering the frozen food court and take seriously the opportunity to place their brand in and on a avenue of distribution that their customers have not abandoned.

In a Battel for Share of Stomach

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The report continued finding, in May of 2021, frozen foods were still 22.6% over and above their 2019 pre-pandemic baseline. This is still much higher than the 14.8% increase in sales for total foods and beverages. Across all 2021 months to date, frozen food gains have consistently been above 20% versus 2019, with matching unit and volume gains.

Here are some of the growth drivers from the report that prove the demand for frozen foods will remain:

·         The three levers of growth: Every brand, product or category has three ways to increase sales: having more people buy, having people buy more and having people buy more often. Frozen food sales gains are the result of hitting this growth trifecta. Virtually every frozen food category saw an increase in household penetration, trips and the average basket size — an accomplishment not all departments can boast.

·         The 360 win: Many categories play in breakfast versus dinner or indulgence versus health. But frozen foods cover it all: functionality, indulgence and variety. Lunch became a huge growth opportunity during the pandemic, as consumers emphasized time and convenience. With many more consumers continuing to work from home part or all of the time, frozen foods are expected to continue to make inroads across meal occasions.

·         Online food and beverage growth: While all retail channels gained over the past 15 months, it was food e-commerce that exploded, with a 2020 gain of 84%, according to IRI. Online now represents about 10% of all food sold in the United States. Also, online growth has not yet plateaued, with expected market penetration of about 12% by the end of 2021. Here, too, frozen foods ride a growth trend, with very high online conversion and penetration.

The grocerant niche continues to be influential as “The 2021 "Power of Frozen" report shows particular strength in frozen seafood and meals. There is no doubt that grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat prepared meals and meal components are the key drivers of our evolving food consumption patterns.

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

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