While frozen food sales in the United States have realized historic increases at the retail level since the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-19) pandemic began impacting the nation, new data suggests demand will continue beyond the health crisis.
The new consumer survey “Frozen Food Sales Amid COVID-19” – commissioned by the Arlington, Virgina-headquartered American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and conducted by 210 Analytics – finds that in recent weeks the category has attracted new customers, returning buyers, earned high satisfaction and instilled a desire among shoppers to continue purchasing throughout the year.
Among the report’s findings:
Sales continue to hold strong. After a 94% surge in mid-March, overall frozen food sales are holding at 30–35% increases in April 2020 vs. a year ago.
The vast majority of Americans are buying frozen food. Eighty-six percent of all consumers have bought frozen food items, such as frozen pizza, vegetables and entrees, since early March.
“This includes an equal share of frequent frozen food buyers, as well as consumers who don’t consider themselves regular purchasers,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, the principal and founder of 210 Analytics.
The category has added new customers. Seven percent of consumers who previously, rarely or never purchased frozen foods prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic are now buying.
“This is a tremendous expansion of the category that could have long-term implications,” Roerink observed. “This includes Gen Z buyers, as well as Baby Boomers who left the category during the TV dinner era – returning now to find newer, tastier products.”
Loyal customers are buying more and trying new items. In addition to new feet down the aisle, current frozen food consumers are changing up frozen buying behaviors: 70% are buying more than usual and 68% are trying new brands and products.
Satisfaction is high. Consumers are very happy with their new frozen purchases. On a five-point scale where five is excellent, convenience received the highest ranking at 4.3, and quality was second, at 4.1.
Buyers will come back. Half of all consumers who have purchased frozen foods since the onset of Covid-19 say they will purchase a lot more (18%) or somewhat more (32%) in the next few months.
“This study suggests frozen will remain a category heavyweight for months and years ahead as it attracts new and returning customers who are relying on a variety of frozen foods to provide much needed convenience and satisfaction,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. “These results show growth in the category that goes beyond the popularity with millennials that was illustrated in our ‘2019 Power of Frozen’ study.”