Frozen: Evolution to Revolution
To some consumers, the frozen aisle is a black hole of TV dinners, fake pies, and cardboard pizza, hardly the figurehead of health and freshness. This perception has resulted in a steady decline of the category since 2010… until now. What is happening in the frozen aisle that is bringing the category back to steady roots? The evolution of ingredients! The frozen aisle is no more. The addition of radical new ingredients, paired with a redefinition of how current ingredients are made, has allowed the current generation to pave the way for the Specialty Frozen Food craze.
According to Mintel, specialty food categories place number 7 out of 61 categories at retail, bringing in $1.9 billion sales in 2015 alone. Specifically, frozen food entrees increased 21.4 percent from 2013-2015. This was made possible due to manufacturers’ willingness to change with consumers’ evolving definition of “health”. No longer are shoppers looking on the labels for the nutritional breakdown of their meals but rather, in the ingredient list of what is in them. The food intelligence of a new generation has challenged manufacturers to rethink what is acceptable on a label. Consumers know that chicken is healthy, they don’t need to see a lower calorie count to prove so. What they do need to see is how that chicken is raised, fed, and bred.
This new attention to how ingredients are sourced, coupled with the mounting demand for health claims such as paleo and gluten free, create a unique but intense need for high quality, high protein, frozen products. Major frozen manufacturers are figuring out how to substitute that high calorie crust for a cauliflower crust or cut down the salt and substitute with fresh herbs, in order to skew the public’s view of their frozen product lines. For those that are not swapping out the crust or pasta, they opt for another viable option in attracting these new socially conscious eaters: flavors of the world. Fresh basil, tikka masala, Korean BBQ, and Mediterranean vegetables are all additions to these healthy, high protein meals that are skyrocketing the category back to success. Regular mac and cheese is a thing of the past, overshadowed by truffle or smoked gouda. So how can these consumers be enticed back to the frozen aisle and try these new items?
There are many things that you can do at store level to change the perception of your frozen aisle. The National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association offers a recipe for grilled pizza on their website that requires the purchase of a frozen pizza, urging you to add your own ingredients and flavors, and then finishing it off on the grill. It is in store demonstrations or recipe cards that can seduce customers into this section of the store and revitalize their perception of it. Furthermore, cross merchandising your frozen food can take it out of the frozen section, and place it where your customers spend their most time. Fundamentally, the most effective way to entice your shoppers to buy a pizza is to freshly bake it in-store, having the aroma fill the fresh prepared section. The next step is to take that tantalizing scent to the physical location of the frozen section, or vice versa. Diane Harper, VP of consumer insights and analytics for brands such as Red Baron notes. “Retailers can test secondary placements such as adding a small freezer in the deli area near complementary items like semi prepared foods… or near the checkout to capture shoppers who are avoiding the frozen food aisle on this trip.” Behind health, Americans are most concerned about convenience. Putting a section of freezer cases containing healthy and vibrant frozen meals next to a salad bar, prepared hot sides, or a wine rack, can create a one stop shop for the shopper looking for a complete meal on a budget and time constraint.
While this may all seem overwhelming, AMF Refrigerated is here to walk you through the process. It is fruitful trends like this that should be executed correctly and efficiently Our goal is to help outfit the best store possible for you and your customers. Our expertise and knowledge allows us to do so in a fashion that highlights and maximizes sales for ALL sections of your store, such as Specialty Frozen. Please contact us about our customizable frozen cases, doors, walk-ins, and our Refresh The Case Program. We are ready to help!