Team ‘Health’ with ‘Convenience’ to Grow Frozen Foods
By Al Heller, Contributing Editor, SupermarketGuru.com
Health can be a bigger sales driver for frozen foods. If this vast department starts to catch up with the rest of the store in ‘smarter eating,’ it could reverse its 0.3% sales dip to $52.7 billion in the 52 weeks ended July 1, 2017, suggest Nielsen data supplied to RDBA.
Dietitians can partner with buyers and category managers on events and promotions that make customers more aware of healthful choices in frozen foods, which can lead to higher department traffic and sales and new growth opportunities within key frozen categories.
Frozen categories where dietitians may want to focus, as cited in Nielsen’s all outlets combined U.S. sales data for the 52 weeks ended July 1, 2017 (only UPC-coded products in grocery, drug and convenience stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs, and military commissaries) include:
- Frozen fruit. Sales declined 4.4% to $1.1 billion, and all measured fruits dropped, led by a 10.0% fall in strawberries.
- Frozen vegetables. Sales slid 2.5% to $2.9 billion. Only cauliflower was up significantly, by 125.6% to $92.4 million; broccoli edged up 1.7% to $408.6 million.
- Frozen imitation meat. Sales dipped 2.2% to $381.0 million.
"Consumers aren't all taking the same path towards healthier eating. Some are trading frozen fruits and vegetables for fresh varieties of the same product. However, novel uses of products like cauliflower - as rice, pizza crust and beyond - are creating growth opportunities even within the frozen department,” said Jordan Rost, VP of Consumer Insights at Nielsen. “Similarly, while growth has slowed over the past two years, sales of frozen products claiming to be natural, organic and gluten free are growing far faster than the frozen department as a whole. For an increasing number of consumers, eating frozen food doesn't mean they're willing to accept foods that have ingredients they wish to avoid."
Sales of frozen products bearing production and “free from” claims are mostly growing faster than items with identical claims in the rest of the store, show Nielsen data.
Here are some of the fastest gainers within frozen:
- Frozen foods labeled as ‘preservative free’ rose faster than foods with this claim elsewhere in the store – up 3.3% to $7.8 billion vs. a 1.0% uptick storewide to $35.5 billion. Some notable gainers: frozen appetizers, up 28.2% to $38.1 million; frozen vegetables, up 21.9% to $708.2 million; frozen meat, up 53.6% to $174.7 million.
- Frozen foods labeled as ‘no artificial preservatives’ dramatically outpaced foods with this claim elsewhere in the store – up 26.1% to $580.3 million vs. a 6.0% climb storewide to $14.9 billion. Several highlights: frozen entrees, up 25.0% to $162.5 million; frozen pizza, up 24.4% to $55.6 million; frozen vegetables, up 100.9% to $129.9 million.
- Frozen foods labeled as ‘low salt or sodium’ fared better than foods with this claim elsewhere in the store – down 0.5% to $125.3 million, compared with a 1.7% slide storewide to $25.4 billion. Some highlights: frozen potatoes and onion rings, up 11.9% to $48.8 million; frozen sandwiches, up 14.1% to $270,079; frozen breaded chicken, up 22.7% to $275,063.
- Frozen foods labeled as “GMO free’ rose 5.1% to $2.1 billion – a healthy but lower pace than the 7.9% storewide advance for foods with this claim to $28.7 billion. Several highlights: frozen entrees, up 11.6% to $420.8 million; frozen pasta, up 313.2% to $5.3 million; frozen juice, up 36.8% to $4.9 million.
- Frozen foods labeled as ‘organic’ jumped 7.7% to $1.1 billion – a healthy but lower pace than the 10.6% storewide leap for foods with this claim to $17.1 billion. Some gainers: frozen breaded chicken, up 54.7% to $9.3 million; frozen entrees, up 15.6% to $423.9 million; frozen waffles, pancakes and French toast, up 19.4% to $23.8 million.
- Frozen foods labeled as ‘gluten free’ grew at a faster rate than foods with this claim elsewhere in the store – up 7.0% to $4.7 billion vs. a 6.0% storewide gain to $69.0 billion. Some highlights: ice cream, up 12.7% to $1.2 billion; frozen vegetables, up 66.6% to $58.6 million; frozen seafood, up 23.8% to $252.6 million.