Shoppers thaw to healthy food
Americans are warming up to frozen foods.
Consumers are eating more vegetables and protein, and their reservations about eating frozen foods — long dubbed an unsatisfying diet option or loaded with artificial ingredients — are starting to thaw. Meanwhile, frozen food companies are revamping their products to include more healthful, flavorful options. And while dishes like Mango Edamame Power Bowls or Sweet and Spicy Harissa Meatballs add an inventiveness to the freezer aisle, one of frozen foods’ chief attractions has stayed rock solid: convenience.
“Frozen food manufacturers have figured out that, ‘Hey, we can give consumers a path to having authentic and wholesome ingredient meals at home with a high level of convenience,’ ” said David Portalatin, food industry adviser for The NPD Group. “Let’s give them the clean label, organic or non-GMO. Let’s put the quality back in.”
Consumers are eager for options to simplify cooking, yet few meal-kit services “have shown a capability to turn a profit,” a recent RBC Capital Markets report notes. That has analysts wondering whether people
are willing to pay steep prices for what is ultimately a more laborious and timeconsuming way to prepare food.
As the RBC report put it: “Isn’t a frozen dinner just a meal-kit that costs less without the work?”
The report showed that the frozen food market has grown for the first time in five years, growing 1 percent
in the 12 weeks leading up to March 10. As millennials seek out nutritious and well-rounded meals without sacrificing convenience, frozen vegetables, fruits and prepared foods present a relatively cheap and easyaccess option. That’s true for younger people and families who are less interested in eating out — whether that’s because they’re working from home or having dinner with a side of Netflix.
In the backdrop is consumers’
dwindling stigma against the freezer aisle, often pitted against the outer perimeter of grocery stores stocked with fresh proteins and produce. Experts say frozen foods are now more commonly understood to not necessarily contain added salts or sugars and can find their place from breakfast to dessert.
Frozen foods can also claim some nutritional and environmental advantages over fresher fare.