Progressive Grocer

FEB 2017

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72 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | February 2017 Side Dishes In Good Company Innovations in flavor and freezing technology fuel growth in frozen side dishes. By Lynn Petrak Frozen vegetable makers are providing consumers with more choice than ever before." —Alison Bodor, American Frozen Food Institute B uoyed by rising purchases and product innovation, frozen side dishes comprise a growing segment within the overall frozen food category. According to Chicago-based market researcher IRI, sales of frozen side dishes experienced double-digit growth in the last 52 weeks ending Dec. 25, 2016 — up 10.99 percent from the previous year, for a total of more than $475.6 million. Within this subcategory, some segments are do- ing particularly well. "Specifically, frozen vegetable makers are providing consumers with more choice than ever before. We are seeing new options, such as buffalo cauliflower and sriracha green beans," says Alison Bodor, president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), in McLean, Va. A variety of new frozen vegetable items on the market supports that observation. Birds Eye, the iconic frozen vegetable brand from Miami-based Pinnacle Foods Group, has recently introduced a spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, along with offerings that combine vegetables with in-demand proteins and global flavors, including Hawaiian Style, Tuscan Style and ai Style blends. e venerable Green Giant brand, part of B&G Foods Inc., in Parsippany, N.J. , likewise has been busy, launching a line of Riced Veggies, positioned as a lower-calorie alternative to rice, in Cauliflower, Cau- liflower & Broccoli, Cauliflower & Sweet Potato, and Cauliflower Medley varieties. Other recently created sides from Green Giant include Veggie Tots, Roasted Veggies and Mashed Cauliflower. ere's also innovation within frozen fruits. Or- egon Fruit Products, in Salem, Ore., offers Pourable Fruit, a fruit topping/sauce that delivers fruit flavor in a frozen, easy-to-use stand-up bottle format. e item comes in blueberry, strawberry and raspberry varieties, "Oregon Fruit Products has a foodservice range that was doing very well. Our customers in that sector were using it as a yogurt topping, blending it into smoothies and milkshakes, or even using it as a base for sauces. We thought the retail consumer would enjoy the same type of applications at home," explains CEO Chris Sarles. As technology enables fresh tastes and as indus- try groups and frozen food companies work to undo misperceptions about the nutrition and quality of frozen produce, further growth in frozen fruits and vegetables may well continue. In a report released last year, San Jose, Calif.- based Global Industry Analysts projected that frozen fruit and vegetable production will reach 28.2 million tons by 2020. Meanwhile, other side dishes, including pota- toes, are getting makeovers. Beaverton, Ore.-based Reser's Fine Foods has recently introduced Main St. Bistro Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Mrs. T's Pierogies, in Potts- ville, Pa., is complementing its traditional products with newer varieties like Garlic Parmesan and Five Cheese Pizza, debuting this year. "Watching the innovation within the pizza cat- egory itself, from upgrading to premium ingredients to new concepts," says Deanna Lyons, Mrs. T's associate brand manager, "we saw the opportunity to bring the big, bold flavor of pizza in a pierogi to life."

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