Report from Acosta Unveils Cold Hard Facts About Future of Frozen Department in USA

From frozen desserts to appetizers and meals, the frozen food section in United States grocery stores is increasingly a one-stop shop for consumers on the go. Twenty-six percent of total US grocery shoppers are making purchases in the frozen foods department more frequently than last year, and it's being led by Millennials and households with children.

So says a report entitled "The Future of Frozen," published recently by Jacksonville, Florida-headquartered Acosta, a full-service sales and marketing agency serving the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.

"Frozen food is certainly its own umbrella category, but its versatility allows it to span multiple mealtime occasions, which is why there has been a lot of room for growth and innovation across items and brands," said Colin Stewart, senior vice president at Acosta. "Competition in the category is heating up as fast-paced Millennials, who often take greater interest in the health benefits of food than older generations, look to frozen as a way to eat well in a convenient and hassle-free manner."

The report also provides insight into the following trends:

Battle of Fresh vs. Frozen

Fresh foods continue to reign supreme in the grocery store, but attitudes toward frozen products might be thawing out as the category is starting to prove itself as stiff competition for the store perimeter.

  • Although most shoppers feel fresh food is healthier than frozen, each generational demographic has reported buying more frozen food than last year, including 43 percent of Millennials; 27 percent of GenXers; 19 percent of Baby Boomers; and 19 percent of members of the so-called Silent Generation.
  • For shoppers purchasing more frozen foods this year, the following factors are ranked as most important in making purchasing decisions – No antibiotics (76 percent); hormone free (76 percent); all natural (73 percent); sustainable (71 percent); and low sodium (69 percent). 
  • Among respondents who anticipate buying more frozen foods in the coming year, 41 percent cite convenience as the reason why they are doing so.
  • Less waste is also top-of-mind, with 32 percent of shoppers expecting to purchase more in the frozen food aisle because they don't spoil as quickly as fresh foods.

Value for Money

Millennials find a lot of value in frozen foods, which is great news for the category as this age demographic is entering its peak spending years.

  • For Millennials, frozen foods are valuable as quick dinner solutions (89 percent); convenient lunches (72 percent); convenient breakfasts for kids (81 percent); and as side dishes (78 percent).
  • Fifty-four percent of Millennials will only buy specific frozen foods because they believe them to be healthier, while that amount is 48 percent for both GenXers and Boomers.
  • Nearly one in three Millennials have purchased frozen foods online, and most of these orders arrive via a grocery delivery service (68 percent), or from a pure-play retailer (68 percent).

"Retailers and brand marketers should keep in mind that a majority of consumers are looking for quick and easy options, while continuing to search for products that provide variety and health benefits to their households," said Stewart. "However, frozen foods are one of the few categories that are still more frequently purchased in store than online, so these items just might be the key to drawing shoppers from the perimeter into center store, as shoppers can check many items off their grocery lists at once. Retailers should ensure the frozen section is easily navigable, and should keep end-cap freezers stocked with a variety of teaser items as to what else is available down the aisles."

“The Future of Frozen” report was completed via an online survey of Acosta’s custom shopper community panel. To access other research and insight reports from the company, as well as actionable solutions for brands and retailers, visit www.acosta.com/strategicinsights.


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