Forget fresh — more diners are filling the fridge with frozen food

MarketWatch | 4/4/2018 | Tonya Garcia
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While some home cooks are feverishly chopping fresh vegetables, an increasing number of people are giving their knives a break and preparing a meal with frozen foods.

Volume growth for the frozen category has turned positive for the first time in five years, according to the latest RBC Capital Markets report, up 1% for the 12 weeks ending March 10. The biggest portion of the frozen category is meals and appetizers, making up 35% of the group and with sales growth of 3%, the highest in five years.

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“While growth pockets have existed in frozen for years, its overall growth relative to other packaged food is accelerating as consumers begin to see freezing as a way to preserve food with fewer negatives,” wrote analysts led by David Palmer.

Analysts say frozen food has had a “stigma” attached to it for the past decade, with millennials seeking out “whole foods” for themselves and their families and staying away from foods perceived to be “engineered.”

Companies - Offerings - Attributes - Consumers - RBC

“But now, we believe frozen-food companies are catching up to align their frozen offerings to the attributes consumers demand,” RBC wrote.

“Quick freeze” technology retains the nutrients and flavor for months, versus fresh food that has to travel and spoils fast.

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“Consider than an estimated 80% of fresh food in the U.S. is wasted each year as consumers often overbuy fresh food or misalign their purchases and consumption, which causes unwanted spoiling,” said RBC. “These problems are largely alleviated with frozen vegetables and frozen meals.”

Frozen food is also a plus for families with concerns about money.

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“Frozen foods allow for convenient dining for so many who are strapped with budgets and having to cook for their families, or even those who have to cook...
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