Report Says Fresh Ingredients Demand in US is Slowing Growth in Retail Frozen Food Sales

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The combined retail market for frozen dinners/entrees, pizzas, side dishes and appetizers/snacks will likely increase from $22 billion in 2014 to $23 billion in 2019, according to a new report from Packaged Facts entitled Frozen Foods in the US: Hot Meals, Sides, and Snacks. Side dishes and appetizers/snacks are the two categories projected to garner the most growth.

However, according to the Rockville, Maryland-based market research company, sellers of frozen foods of all kinds have been challenged in recent years as a result of the convergence of several trends. Chief among them is the growing demand for fresh products or, at least, products that are perceived to be fresh, in refrigerated rather than frozen form.

“Many consumers have come to believe that only fresh foods offer real nutritional value. They perceive frozen dinners as a remnant of a past dining era in which these products were valued more for their convenience than their healthiness. Unfortunately, the fact that frozen foods can potentially offer the same nutritional value as fresh or refrigerated foods is simply lost on consumers holding this anti-frozen foods view point,” said David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts’ research director.

Some frozen foods include preservatives such as potassium sorbate, calcium propionate and sodium tripolyphosphate among their ingredients. As increasing numbers of consumers come to focus their attention on labels, seeking products that are “natural,” these ingredients can be detrimental in terms of sales. In addition, some of the diet-oriented frozen products that have been highly successful in previous years because of their low calorie counts are now coming under scrutiny for their high salt content. This is another ingredient causing concern to the growing numbers of health conscious, label reading consumers.

The challenge from so-called fresh products is hitting frozen foods from all sides. There are more sources, such as farmers markets and expanded produce sections in traditional supermarkets and in supercenters like Wal-Mart, which in recent years proclaimed intentions to put a new focus on providing fresh foods. Even convenience stores, not traditionally known for carrying fresh products, are expanding such offerings.

Nevertheless, there is a silver lining for the frozen foods industry. Frozen products identified as natural and/or organic appear to be receiving a better reception among shoppers than frozen foods in general. Consumer concerns about preservatives and other ingredients are alleviated by the notion that if the products are natural or organic, they must be fresher or, at least, healthier.

More information about the Packaged Facts report is available by visiting or