Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Why Grocerant Niche Consumers Complement Fresh Foods with Fresh Frozen Foods


Fresh frozen foods are becoming more popular among consumers who want to enjoy the benefits of fruits and vegetables all year round. According to a survey by the American Frozen Food Institute, 70% of consumers are buying more frozen food amid the pandemic, and 68% plan to continue doing so in the future.

Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® recommends that all food retailers complement fresh food with fresh frozen in order to edify meal, menu continuity and sustainability.  But what are the reasons behind this trend? Let’s take a look:

1. Frozen foods offer better nutrition than fresh foods in some cases.

Contrary to the common belief that fresh foods are always more nutritious than frozen ones, research shows that freezing can actually preserve the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables. This is because frozen foods are picked at peak ripeness, when they have the most vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and then processed within a few hours. Fresh foods, on the other hand, are often harvested before they are fully ripe and then transported and stored for days or weeks, losing some of their nutritional value along the way. 

Your, going to love this example, a study by the University of California, Davis, found that frozen spinach had 30% more vitamin C than fresh spinach stored for a week at room temperature, and frozen peas had 15% more folate than fresh peas stored for three days in the refrigerator1.

2. Frozen foods meet the growing demand for plant-based foods.

More and more consumers are looking for plant-based foods and alternative meats, either for health, ethical or environmental reasons. Frozen foods offer a convenient and affordable way to access these options, as they are available in a wide variety of products, such as burgers, nuggets, sausages, pizzas, soups, salads and desserts. Frozen foods also help reduce food waste, as they can be easily portioned and stored for longer periods of time, without compromising their quality or taste.

3. Frozen foods fit the growing demand for personalized nutrition.

Consumers are becoming more aware of their individual dietary needs and preferences, and are seeking foods that cater to them. Frozen foods allow consumers to customize their meals according to their goals, whether they are gluten-free, low-carb, high-protein, vegan, organic or anything else. Frozen foods also enable consumers to experiment with different cuisines and flavors, as they offer a range of ethnic and specialty dishes, such as Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian and more.

4. Frozen foods help fight cooking fatigue.

With the pandemic forcing many people to stay at home and cook more often, cooking fatigue has become a real issue for some consumers. Frozen foods offer a solution to this problem, as they are easy to prepare, require minimal cleanup and save time and energy. Frozen foods also provide variety and excitement to the menu, as they can be mixed and matched with other ingredients to create new and delicious dishes.

5. Frozen foods offer certainty in uncertain times.

The pandemic has also created a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for consumers, who worry about food shortages, price fluctuations and safety issues. Frozen foods offer a sense of security and comfort, as they are always available, affordable and safe. Frozen foods also have a long shelf life, which means consumers can stock up on them without worrying about spoilage or expiration dates.

Drilling down even a little more according to Conagra Brands' recent report, frozen foods have unique appeal across all generations. The 2023 “Power of Frozen in Retail” report released last October by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and FMI – The Food Industry Association, showed that yearly frozen food sales topped $74.2 billion and revealed that 94% of consumers will buy the same or more frozen items in the coming months.

Conagra Brands recently released its own first-of-its-kind report on the topic, affirming the ongoing demand for and use of frozen food. “Frozen food is an enormous category, and the U.S. is somewhat unique – it’s four times more developed than other countries. Frozen foods have unique appeal across all generations and frozen food covers everything from prepared foods to ingredients,” said Bob Nolan, SVP of demand science at Conagra Brands, during a recent webinar on the report’s findings. Additionally, he noted, consumers can cut down on food waste by opting for frozen foods that have a longer shelf life than fresh foods. 

In case you did not know, Conagra’s “Future of Frozen Food 2024” report was based on data from NeilsenIQ and other research sources and an analysis of more than 120 million social media conversations. According to Nolan, the company leveraged its demand science team to gain a deeper look into opportunities and behaviors.  

The company’s analysts identified five top trends that they believe will shape demand in the year ahead:

1.       A Taste of Global Cuisine: Conagra’s insights show that consumers are being influenced by their exposure to more global flavors, such as Indian, Cajun and Korean BBQ fare. “Consumers for years have been expanding their palates to more global cuisines and profiles, but it’s all about what’s hot now that’s driving trends in global cuisines,” said Megan Bullock, director, strategic insights, emerging demand, at Conagra Brands, citing the popularity of dishes like Asian appetizers. “We’ve also seen expansion of hot and spicy food in frozen.”

2.       Frozen Foods Rising and Shining at Breakfast: According to Conagra, items like frozen croissant sandwiches, breakfast burritos and biscuit sandwiches are driving growth in this segment and reflect the all-day popularity of breakfast items. “We are seeing a lot of modern attributes like high protein, gluten-free and carb-conscious, too,” added Bullock. 

3.       Big Appetites for Bites and Mini Portions: Consumers’ penchant for noshing on snacks, along with their interest in portion control and quick satisfaction, are contributing to this trend. “There are a multitude of motivations and benefits. It’s also about convenience, shareability and enjoyment,” Bullock pointed out during the webinar. 

4.       Fun and Convenient Kids Meals: Kid-friendly frozen food now generates more than $248 million in annual sales, Conagra reports. Beyond convenience, taste and variety, families buy frozen foods to help control food budgets and reduce food waste. Added Nolan: “The last thing a parent wants after a long day is to fight over dinner.”

5.       The Air Fryer's Influence on Food Prep: Air fryers remain a literal and figurative hot trend, with the number of frozen foods with air-frying instructions leaping 90% over the past four years. That trend will keep surging, the researchers predict.

Frozen foods are not only convenient and tasty, but also nutritious, diverse and reliable. They can help consumers meet their dietary needs and preferences, while also saving them time, money and hassle. Frozen foods are here to stay, and consumers have many reasons to like them. It’s this simple they complement fresh food and meal component consistency.

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: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or 253-759-7869

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