Friday, October 28, 2022

Are Restaurants Prices Turning Consumers to the Frozen Food Court

Consumers are walking the aisle of the grocery store looking for a meal that is less expensive than eating out.  Delivery charges, price increases, slow service, inconsistent quality are but some of the comments gather in Foodservice Solutions® latest round of grocerant scorecards, according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Struggling with year over year customer count declines and inflation restaurant have to consider just here are their customer getting their next meal.  By all accounts more and more consumers are visiting the frozen food court at their local grocery store. Is your brand on the aisle, on the shelf, or in the basket of the consumer tonight?

Consider this, price is top of mind for consumers, frozen food sales have exceeded $70 billion over the past year, according to NielsenIQ – a 7.6% increase over 2021 and 31% increase over 2019 pre-pandemic sales. Now are your sales up 7.6%?  Are your sales up 31% over 2019 pre-pandemic sales?

In a new report from Acosta, titled Frozen Food Trends & Insights study, done in conjunction with the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention. With price top of mind for consumers, frozen food sales have exceeded $70 billion over the past year, according to NielsenIQ – a 7.6% increase over 2021 and 31% increase over 2019 pre-pandemic sales. According to the research, there are three key drivers for consumers' frozen food purchases this year: value, convenience and healthy options. Comfort weighs in as an ancillary driver to purchase.

Kathy Risch, SVP, Consumer Insights and Trends at Acosta, stated, "Two years ago, our research attributed frozen food sales growth predominantly to the pandemic and the resulting evolution of consumer demand with more people cooking at home," ... "Today, even as the average unit price for frozen products has risen 15% over 2021, consumers continue to select frozen as a key part of their food shopping experience," she stated. "We've found that criteria for purchase are balanced between the requirements of affordability and value, healthy choices that meet dietary or lifestyle needs, convenience of preparation and a bit of comfort."  

Pay attention to these numbers, 98% of households purchasing frozen foods, 86% of those shoppers are visiting the frozen section on all or most of their grocery visits. Innovation is driving flavorful options to meet multiple dietary needs and lifestyle choices with numerous new entries taking key positions on freezer shelves. There are ongoing opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to influence purchase decisions.

Value is Key

·         67% of consumers believe that frozen sometimes provides a better value than non-frozen, listing the categories of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and pizza

·         93% of shoppers are noticing higher prices on frozen foods and 40% of shoppers are spending more time looking for deals

·         Shopping for frozen foods at club stores has jumped 5% this year, with 52% of households reporting they're buying in bulk to save money

Understanding Frozen Foods Shopping Habits 

·         When it comes to frozen food purchases:

·         91% purchased desserts – comfort, convenience and indulgence

·         89% purchased prepared foods and 59% of consumers had a frozen main dish recently as a replacement for eating outside the home 

·         75% purchased vegetables, as frozen vegetables are often perceived as "healthier" than fresh, and a better value   

·         72% said frozen purchases are planned vs. impulse

·         Consumers continue to prefer purchasing frozen foods in-store vs. online, citing handling concerns and preference to select as the key barriers

Acosta's Insights for Manufacturers and Retailers

·         Clearly communicate the value proposition of frozen foods, especially bulk items and entrees that help shoppers stretch dollars, with clear marketing and packaging

·         Frozen foods are undergoing a health-centric rebrand – educate consumers on the healthy nutritional content preserved in frozen foods and continue to elevate options with healthier innovation, such as plant-based options

·         Highlight the convenience of meal solutions and communicate dinner meal solutions that mix and match frozen with fresh items

·         Strengthen the freezer section shopping experience to make it more fun, enjoyable and engaging

"There is an opportunity to do more to engage with customers and drive excitement and purchase in the frozen section, in-store and online, through targeted omnichannel marketing, sales promotions and experiential retailing. Understanding the consumer mindset in frozen will play an important role in supporting anticipated growth and driving purchase decisions," said Risch.

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Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869 

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