Rising consumer demands for health and wellness products across the F&B marketplace have cascaded into the frozen foods segment. Trends such as vegan, keto, organic, and gluten-free have crossed the freezer door into frozen meals, and major brands are responding.
In the past, there was a certain stigma surrounding frozen foods. They were grouped together with fast food in the public mind and seen as unhealthy, unwholesome, and high in artificial additives. But the health and wellness trends that have been growing across the F&B market as a whole have also begun cascading into the frozen meals segment, partly thanks to the rise of millennials.
Rising consumer demands for health and wellness products across the F&B marketplace have cascaded into the frozen foods segment. Trends such as vegan, keto, organic, and gluten-free have crossed the freezer door into frozen meals, and major brands are responding. Traditional healthy frozen foods have been joined by more creative products.
Millennials: Unwilling to stop, unwilling to compromise
The rise of millennials is bringing about a transformation in the freezer section of your grocery store. Millennials are always busy and always on the move. It’s the instant gratification generation – and that extends to their food choices. Millennials are flocking to frozen meals as a way to speed up meal preparation and shortcut the path to a healthy dinner, but they aren’t willing to compromise on their health and wellness values in the process.
Their impact is clear. Today, ‘vegan’ has overtaken ‘microwaveable’ as a key consumer demand for frozen meals. Organic, gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto also feature high in consumer discussion about frozen foods.
Top features discussed by consumers in frozen foods (US Data, Mar. 2017 – Feb. 2019)
Although health and wellness trends have been impacting frozen foods, weight management remains an unmet need. Consumer discussion about weight management is currently at over 40%, but under 20% of products claim to meet this need within the health & wellness segment.
Frozen food ecosystem comparing products in market vs. consumer discussions highlighting health & wellness (US Data, Mar. 2017 – Feb. 2019)
Utilizing Signals Analytics’ ‘Explore’ feature, we can zoom in on the brands that lead the frozen food market in terms of weight management; the percentage of their product offering is still low. Only Smart Ones dedicates the majority of its product offering to weight management items.
Well under 50% of the frozen meals sold by Atkins, Green Giant, and Great Value Organic, the next major brands, claim to address weight management. This is a good indication that the market for frozen foods that meet weight management needs still has plenty of room to expand.
Brands specializing in weight management products in frozen foods (US Data, Mar. 2017 –Feb. 2019)
Cooking up creativity
However, there are also creative new products appearing on the market, in response to changing consumer health and wellness demands. One of the most popular new products is cauliflower pizza crust, like Caulipower Margherita Pizza. It taps into demands for keto, low-carb, and gluten-free products.
Sample consumer review
Snapshot - Nutrisystem is leading the market
Nutrisystem is among the top three frozen meals brands most associated with weight management by consumers, and was the most reviewed brand in February 2019, according to Signals Playbook™.
Top brands associated with weight management by consumers in frozen foods (US Data, Mar. 2017 – Feb. 2019)
What’s interesting is that Nutrisystem didn’t set out to conquer the frozen foods market. It’s a weight loss plan that provides nutritious, healthy frozen meals to its members. The same frozen meals and snacks are sold through stores like Walmart and Amazon, making them widely available.
Nutrisystem products include standard frozen meals, like frozen pizza, burgers, and chicken parmesan, plus snacks like frozen pancakes and cupcakes – but designed and made for a healthy diet. The products match the Nutrisystem message of feeling good, eating well, and losing weight, without missing out on your favorite foods.
The rise of Nutrisystem within the frozen foods market demonstrates the extent of the demand for healthy frozen meals.
Consumer demands within the health and wellness trends are still going unmet. Weight management products are still thin on the ground. Plenty of space remains in the frozen foods segment for major and smaller brands to expand to meet burgeoning and complex consumer demands.
Written by Carole Katz
Marketing Manager at Signals Analytics
Carole has extensive experience in market analysis and research and formerly worked at Sodastream where she gained valuable CPG category experience. She holds a BA in Economics and an LLB in Law.
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