Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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62 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | February 2017 organic, clean labels and foods otherwise deemed healthier. "It's clear that the growth segments in frozen are being driven by organic, natural, ethnic offerings and premium ingredients, primarily in pizza, breakfast sandwiches, sauces and soups," says Alison Bodor, president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), in McLean, Va. "ese products appeal to a diverse population, and certainly to Millennials, who are looking for healthful yet adventurous options." Likewise, Henderson observes that retailers can draw consumers to the frozen food aisle by carry- ing frozen foods that fall into such trending areas. "e frozen department should take advantage of trends that have staying power, like health and wellness and natural/organic," she asserts. Many manufacturers, including both global companies and niche producers, have tapped into the demand for lifestyle-driven frozen products. "We see continuing growth in consumers looking for organic offerings," says David Perkins, CEO at Austin, Texas-based Beetnik Foods, adding that the sector continues to widen. "Within that group of shoppers, we have also continued to see a grow- ing number of consumers looking for Paleo and other diet-specific options that reflect an increasing number of people with very specific restrictions or preferences, all of which is reflected in a trend toward simpler ingredient decks." Cool Generations Frozen foods can complement another much- buzzed-about topic in retail these days: Millennials and Generation Z. "Millennial and Generation Z consumers are more thoughtful about the quality of ingredi- ents in the foods they consume, but they are also time-strapped, like the rest of society," notes Amy Lotker, owner and head of sales and marketing for Better for You Foods LLC, in Delray Beach, Fla. "Quality frozen foods can easily satisfy the need for convenience, while offering healthy and all-natural products at the same time." at sentiment is echoed by Suzanne Muller, senior director of consumer insights at Chicago- based Conagra Brands. "We are seeing Millennial consum- ers gravitate to frozen meal options with modern health attributes and more sophisticated culinary cues," she observes. ey also appear to be willing to pay more for these options versus the classic varieties in the space." Adds Kelly Swette, CEO of Sweet Earth Natural Foods, in Landing, Calif.: "When you look at Mil- lennials, they are at a peak career point in their lives, but don't have a lot of time. So you have to have the right types of products they are looking for." According to AFFI's Bodor, expanded frozen food offerings — and ongoing efforts to educate shoppers about the production and attributes of fro- zen foods — can resonate with younger audiences. "While many consumers have historically viewed frozen as the opposite of 'fresh,' people are beginning to realize that freezing actually enables a longer shelf life with fewer preservatives," she notes. "is message is strong with Millennials and other shoppers seeking products with clean labels, and our members are working with retailers to convey this message to shoppers." Beyond products tied to balance, health and wellness, and those that appeal to Millennials, the frozen food marketplace includes more items made with bolder or nontraditional ingredients. "In addition to authenticity in their foods, con- sumers are looking for bolder international fla- vors," confirms Brian Van Otterloo, senior director of pizza marketing for Schwan Food Co., in Marshall, Minn., citing a Mintel International Food Trends report revealing that 80 percent of Millennial- led families eat spicy international foods and that 89 percent of Hispanic families want more spicy food options. Schwan's isn't the only frozen food maker stepping up to the plate in that regard. "Both heat and spice have been trends in the frozen Mexican foods cat- egory for quite some time. Today's con- While many consumers have historically viewed frozen as the opposite of 'fresh,' people are beginning to realize that freezing actually enables a longer shelf life with fewer preservatives." —Alison Bodor, American Frozen Food Institute

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