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September 23, 2021

What’s Behind the Soaring Sales of Frozen Foods?

The popularity of frozen foods is anything but a secret. Take a look at the growing footprint of freezers in any grocery retailer, and it’s clear that there is growing demand for everything from frozen vegetables to dinners to desserts.

Sales of frozen products have surged dramatically in recent months, which is a trend that was ignited by the pandemic and has now become the norm with shoppers rediscovering – or perhaps been exposed to for the first time – the benefits of frozen goods.

Stability is #1

We know that frozen sales are soaring, but do we really know why? RETHINK Retail set out to find the answer and discovered at the top of the shoppers’ list is the long shelf life of frozen foods. Many frozen products, such as vegetables, fruits and breads, provide the same nutritional and flavor benefits of fresh, which have much narrower windows for use that make “stocking up” difficult.

With more people preparing more meals at home, those looking for shelf-stable products delivering the quality they’re accustomed to made visits to the frozen section a priority. In fact, the popularity of frozen foods has grown such that more than 30% of US households expanded freezer capacity since 2020 by adding a second or larger unit.

The American Frozen Food Institute stated in its “2021 Power of Frozen” report that sales of frozen products totaled $65 billion in 2020, which is equal to about 10% of the $666 billion in total sales of all foods and beverages. And while total grocery sales were up 5.8% year over year, the jump in frozen sales was nearly 4x that number, increasing by 21% during the same period, according to the AFFI report.

Much of that increase can be attributed to regular frozen shoppers, who increased their purchases of frozen products by a robust 70% in the past 12 months.

There’s also more acceptance of the quality of frozen foods. So much that mixing fresh and frozen products in food preparation is no longer considered a mealtime sin. According to the AFFI report, nearly three-quarters of frozen food customers say they have no issue combining fresh and frozen ingredients in their meals.

Stocking up

In its “Grocery Trends 2021 Report,” RETHINK Retail stated that the second most popular reason given for the increase in frozen sales is consumers stocking up in anticipation of a food shortage. Supply chains have been impacted by the labor shortage, and that has translated into shortages on the shelves.

Brandon Scholz, president of the Wisconsin Growers Association, told WMTV-TV in Madison, WI that he’s seeing firsthand the impact the post-pandemic labor shortage is having on grocery stores.

“In the last 3 or 4 months we’ve seen a dramatic change in the industry’s supply chain, Scholz said. “Manufacturers, growers, producers, suppliers have all come to the point where for a variety of reasons they can’t make enough like they used to.”

Consumers are also aware of the supply chain challenges, and many have turned to stocking up on frozen food products as a means of ensuring they have the products they need when they need them. In fact, according to the AFFI, more than 30% of US households expanded freezer capacity since 2020 by adding a second or larger unit.

Convenience rounds things out

The convenience offered by frozen foods is at the core of the remaining Top 5 reasons RETHINK Retail discovered for the category’s popularity.

Frozen customers surveyed by the publication reported that they appreciate that buying frozen products reduces the number of shopping trips they need to make, and that they like the ease of preparing frozen foods and the time those products save in cleanup both before and after meals.

And the word is beginning to quickly spread. AFFI reports that the number of high-frequency frozen food shoppers – those consuming frozen foods daily or every few days – has climbed from 35% to about 40% of all people since 2018.

Grocers understand the challenges of managing the frozen section, with conditioning and inventory management made even more difficult with the heavy traffic in the frozen aisles. To stay ahead, everyone is looking for an edge.

Thousands of grocery retailers around the globe have turned to Retail Space Solutions for help. Offering a full line of pusher display systems designed to automatically front-face and condition shelves, Retail Space Solutions merchandising solutions also make product selection and restocking easy.

Built to withstand the extreme temperatures of frozen displays, Retail Space Solutions pusher display systems pay for themselves in as little as 10 months through inventory management, staff efficiency and increased sales. Contact Retail Space Solutions today at 800-279-5291 or visit retailspacesolutions.com to learn how pusher display systems can help your bottom line.