U.S. frozen foods market experiencing flat to declining sales

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The U.S. frozen foods market has hit a rough patch, according to a new study from Packaged Facts.

Citing such factors as the nation's slow economic recovery; changing consumer eating patterns, shopping patterns and demographics; lack of excitement in frozen foods categories and merchandising; retailers' increased focus on the fresh foods perimeter to the detriment of center store categories; and competition from fresh foods (including prepared fresh foods), shelf-stable foods and restaurants, Packaged Facts revealed that the $44 billion market only has realized gains attributable to inflation or new products.

According to a national online survey conducted by Packaged Facts in August, a preference for fresh foods is the top reason (57%) shoppers cited for not buying frozen foods in the last three months, followed by a preference for home-cooked foods (35%). In comparison, fewer than 1-in-5 shoppers said they have not bought frozen foods because they don't like the taste, don't have enough freezer space at home, are not confident in frozen foods' nutrition, or are not confident in frozen foods' quality.

Despite the flat/declining sales, Packaged Facts publisher David Sprinkle said one way frozen food marketers are squaring off against fresh foods head on is by emphasizing freshness. This is done, Sprinkle said, by citing research studies which show that frozen produce is as nutritious, and in some cases even more nutritious, than fresh produce.

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