According to a recent report published by Acosta, Millennials and households with children are leading a buying charge in the frozen food departments. Twenty-six percent of total U.S. grocery shoppers are shopping in the frozen foods department more frequently than last year.
Millennials and frozen foods also is one of the subjects to be covered at the Frozen and Refrigerated Association of the Northeast (FRANE) convention, being held this weekend in Providence, Rhode Island.
Entitled “The Future of Frozen,” the Acosta report focuses on the frozen category and shoppers’ behaviors and preferences in these aisles. Acosta’s “The Future of Frozen” report was completed via an online survey of the company’s custom shopper community panel.
“Frozen food is certainly its own umbrella category, but its versatility allows it to span multiple mealtime occasions, which is why there has been a lot of room for growth and innovation across items and brands,” said Colin Stewart, Acosta SVP.
He added, “Competition in the category is heating up as fast-paced Millennials, who often take greater interest in the health benefits of food than older generations, look to frozen as a way to eat well in a convenient and hassle-free manner.”
Fresh vs. frozen
According to Acosta, fresh foods continue to reign supreme in the grocery store, but attitudes toward frozen products might be thawing out as the category is starting to prove itself as stiff competition for the store perimeter.
Although most shoppers feel fresh food is healthier than frozen, each generational demographic has reported buying more frozen food than last year, including 43 percent of Millennials; 27 percent of Gen-Xers; 19 percent of Baby Boomers; and 19 percent of Silents (72 years of age or older).
- For shoppers purchasing more frozen foods this year, the following factors are ranked as most important in making purchasing decisions: No antibiotics (76 percent); hormone free (76 percent); all natural (73 percent); sustainable (71 percent); and low sodium (69 percent).
- Among respondents who anticipate buying more frozen foods in the coming year, 41 percent cite convenience as the reason.
- Less waste is also top of mind with 32 percent of shoppers expecting to purchase more in the frozen food aisle because they do not spoil as quickly as fresh foods.
Millennials are finding a lot of value in frozen foods, which Acosta says is great news for the category as this age demographic is entering its peak spending years.
- For Millennials, frozen foods are valuable as quick dinner solutions (89 percent); convenient lunches (72 percent); convenient breakfasts for kids (81 percent); and as side dishes (78 percent).
- Fifty-four percent of Millennials will only buy specific frozen foods because they believe them to be healthier, while that number is 48 percent for both Gen-Xers and boomers.
- Nearly one in three Millennials have purchased frozen foods online and most of these orders arrive via a grocery delivery service (68 percent) or from a pure-play retailer (68 percent).
“Retailers and brands should keep in mind that a majority of consumers are looking for quick and easy options while continuing to search for products that provide variety and health benefits to their households,” added Stewart. “However, frozen foods are one of the few categories that are still more frequently purchased in store than online so these items just might be the key to drawing shoppers from the perimeter into center store as shoppers can check many items off their grocery lists at once. Retailers should ensure the frozen section is easily navigable and should keep end-cap freezers stocked with a variety of teaser items as to what else is available down the aisles.”
FRANE will host a Millennial panel discussion on Friday, Oct. 27, at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Providence. FRANE also will recognize the results of its Northeast Perishable Emerging Leaders and its Member of the Year during weekend convention activities.