The frozen food aisle is no longer the place where shoppers just pick up ice cream and pot pies.
The segment of the grocery store business has been revamped over recent months as more suppliers push healthy food choices in the freezer case. Improvements in flash-freezing food allow suppliers to lock in freshness and the food is frozen so quickly that ice crystals do not form inside the product. This process also allows shoppers to use only the amount of the product they need and refresh the rest for later.
Marketing firm Acosta recently polled consumers and found 32% said they are buying more frozen food this year and next. Part of the rise in frozen food popularity is the concern of food preservatives which are found in shelf-stable food and even fresh deli meats.
Acosta found Millennials are among the biggest enthusiasts around frozen foods as 43% are planning to buy more frozen food than last year as they seek items that require less prep and can be stored longer. According to Nielsen, sales of frozen foods are up 4.5% year-over-year.
Tyson Foods notes consumers are demanding more fast, flexible and healthy food options and the freezer case now holds more vegetable varieties and healthy choices for consumers seeking less sodium and preservatives. Cauliflower crust pizzas, Zoodles (spiral cut zucchini) and cauliflower rice are growing in popularity.
Tyson Foods said its air-fried chicken strips will be in retail freezers soon and Jimmy Dean breadless egg sandwiches are also new additions to the freezer case. Tyson reports a recent study by the University of California at Davis found in some cases frozen items have a slight edge in nutritional value compared to fresh foods.
“So, if you thought your frozen peas were less healthy than fresh ones, think again. Consumers also no longer have to feel guilty for using only half of their fresh spinach and throwing the rest away — hello sustainable! Frozen lets consumers keep their produce longer and at the same time, save a penny or two,” Tyson Foods notes in a recent blog post on its website.