Freezer fever has taken off thanks in large part to the effects of grocery stockpiling brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an Oct. 3, 2020, report called Emerging Trends in Frozen Foods, SPINS indicates that frozen foods are leading growth in the natural channel, up by 28% in the twelve weeks ending Sept. 6, 2020, versus the year before.
While a freezer packed with long-lasting and ready-to-heat foods is sure to deliver peace of mind to stuck-at-home consumers, not just any products will do. The pandemic has accelerated the public’s already growing concerns for their health and wellness, putting a focus on the need for nutritious food options like never before. Fortunately, innovation in the natural channel freezer aisle was already headed in this direction before the pandemic hit, particularly with regard to plant-based products and specialty diet versions of favorite comfort foods—cauliflower crust pizza, anyone?
In tracking the growth of products targeted at certain dietary tribes, SPINS lists plant-based and vegan products as two of the “top trending lifestyle diets across frozen,” followed closely by Whole30 and paleo diet-friendly options. And we have no doubt that keto-apt products can’t be far behind.
The report also highlights the fact that natural frozen products are outpacing overall frozen food growth in MultiOutlet channels—at 28% as compared to 18%—while growth in the natural and regional grocery channels is nearly even at 25% and 26%, respectively. And while frozen fruits and vegetables are leading the pack, other winners in terms of growth in the natural channel are frozen Appetizers and Snacks, Desserts (including Ice Cream) and Plant-Based Meat Alternatives.
Function, flavor and fun?
Consumers feeling the fatigue of the ongoing pandemic not only want better-for-you options, but they also want those options to taste great and be interesting too—a needed distraction in these difficult times. It’s here that the recent innovations in natural channel frozen products are particularly exciting. For example, frozen desserts still provide all the indulgence consumers desire—but with cleaner ingredient lists, less sugar or even no sugar at all.
Organic certification stands out as an excellent way to offer consumers the peace of mind and transparency that they so desire when making decisions in the grocery store. Though organic products have typically been fewer and farther between in the frozen aisle, those that are certified organic will undoubtedly have a leg up in terms of meeting today’s growing consumer demand for better-for-you products.
These five products featured in the Product Discovery Zone at Spark Change represent a range of product categories and food choices, but the companies behind them share a commitment to USDA Organic certification that will surely inspire other frozen brands to follow. One final note: In addition to looking for brands in the Product Discovery Zone, check out the Explore Products and Services tab, where it's easy to search products by their category and attributes.