Value, health and convenience are key drivers of frozen food sales, according to new research from Acosta Shopper Insights

JACKSONVILLE, FL, October 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Acosta, a global leader in integrated sales and marketing services, released its new Frozen Foods Trends and Insights Study in conjunction with this week’s National Frozen and Chilled Foods Convention. With prices top of mind for consumers, sales of frozen foods have exceeded 70 billion dollars last year, according to NielsenIQ—a 7.6% increase over 2021 and a 31% increase over pre-pandemic sales in 2019. According to the study, there are three key drivers for consumer frozen food purchases this year: value, convenience and health options. Comfort weighs in as an additional driver for purchase.

“Two years ago, our research attributed the rise in frozen food sales primarily to the pandemic and the resulting evolution of consumer demand with more people cooking at home,” said Kathy Risch, senior vice president, consumer insights and trends at Acosta. “Today, despite the average unit price for frozen products rising 15% in 2021, consumers continue to choose frozen products as a key part of their food shopping experience,” she said. “We found that purchase criteria were balanced between affordability and value requirements, a healthy choice that meets nutritional or lifestyle needs, convenience of preparation and a bit of comfort.”

With 98% of households buying frozen foods, 86% of those shoppers visit the frozen foods section on all or most of their grocery store visits. Innovations lead to flavorful options to meet multiple dietary needs and lifestyle choices with a host of new items taking center stage on freezer shelves. There are constant opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to influence purchasing decisions.

Value is key

  • 67% of consumers think frozen sometimes provides better value than non-frozen, listing the categories vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and pizza
  • 93% of shoppers notice higher prices on frozen foods and 40% of shoppers spend more time looking for deals
  • Frozen food shopping at club stores has jumped 5% this year, with 52% of households reporting buying in bulk to save money

Understanding frozen food shopping habits

  • When it comes to frozen food purchases:
    • 91% purchased desserts – comfort, convenience and enjoyment
    • 89% have purchased prepared foods and 59% of consumers have had a frozen main meal recently as a substitute for eating out
    • 75% purchased vegetables as frozen vegetables are often perceived as ‘healthier’ than fresh and better value
  • 72% say frozen purchases are planned compared to impulse purchases
  • Consumers continue to prefer buying frozen foods in-store over online, citing handling concerns and choice preferences as key barriers

Acosta’s insights for manufacturers and retailers

  • Clearly communicate the value proposition of frozen foods, especially bulk items and entrees that help shoppers stretch their dollars, with clear marketing and packaging
  • Frozen foods undergo a health-focused rebrand – educate consumers about the healthy nutritional content preserved in frozen foods and continue to improve options with healthier innovations such as plant-based options
  • Emphasize the convenience of meal solutions and communicate dinner meal solutions that mix and match frozen with fresh produce
  • Enhance the freezer shopping experience to make it more fun, enjoyable and engaging

“There is an opportunity to do more to engage with customers and drive excitement and purchase in the frozen section, in-store and online, through targeted omnichannel marketing, sales promotions and experiential retailing.” Understanding consumer mindsets in frozen foods will play an important role in supporting anticipated growth and driving purchasing decisions,” said Risch.

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About Acosta
Acosta’s suite of progressive, commerce-focused solutions enable today’s biggest brands, retailers and foodservice providers to win in today’s marketplace. Since 1927, Acosta has developed trusted relationships and unparalleled scale. In a complex and fast-paced omnichannel world, Acosta’s network of companies allows us to connect with shoppers wherever they are. Through data-driven growth strategies and exceptional customer experiences, we connect tomorrow’s commerce today.


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