Frozen foods have been feeling the heat lately largely due to a shift in consumer preferences to fresh and refrigerated foods. But the industry is fighting back, with a flurry of new-product activity that match up with the qualities consumers are looking for from all kinds of foods, says market research publisher Packaged Facts in the report Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Snacks, 6th Edition.
Recent product development and positioning in frozen foods reflect current overall food trends like clean labels, international and regional flavors, and special dietary preferences, as well as products intended as innovative offerings to encourage people to eat more vegetables, Packaged Facts officials say.
The Green Giant brand and the Green Giant himself are good examples of how frozen food marketers are getting back on track, officials say. The brand changed hands in November 2015, when B&G Foods purchased it from General Mills for $765 million. B&G quickly breathed new life into the brand, which had been around since 1928 and was recognized by around 90 percent of U.S. consumers. In less than a year it was rolling out a series of new and innovative Green Giant frozen products, including:
- Veggie Tots, a "kid-friendly, mom-approved alternative to potato tots and French fries are filled with vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli instead of potatoes.
- Riced Veggies, made from 100 percent vegetables and with no sauce or seasoning, are positioned as alternatives to traditional rice with 70 percent to 85 percent fewer calories per serving than prepared white rice.
- Mashed Cauliflower, an alternative to the typical potato side dish with 40 percent to 45 percent fewer calories than the leading brand of prepared mashed potatoes.
- Roasted Veggies, offering the taste of roasted vegetables "without the hassle of roasting and cleaning up."
The new Green Giant frozen vegetable product lines under B&G Foods' auspices deliver a fresh take on yesterday's side dishes with the purpose of helping Americans "swap in" more vegetables. To this end, Veggie Tots and Mashed Cauliflower can be swapped in for potatoes, and Riced Veggies for white rice.The new product launch was supported with a $30 million "The Giant Awakens" media campaign that featured an updated Green Giant.
But Green Giant isn't the only brand making inroads resuscitating frozen foods. Other notable actions being taken by frozen food marketers, according to officials, include:
- In the category of international cuisines, Bellisio Foods introducing the EAT! line of frozen entrées that combine bold, global flavors with authentic, high-quality ingredients;
- Celebrating regional cuisines, The Mouth Meets South frozen meal brand was created "to fill a significant void in the frozen meal grocery segment by bringing a variety of savory and delicious soul food frozen meals to grocers' freezers for the first time in history." Ingredients include fried catfish, smothered pork chops, corn pudding, candied yams, collard greens, mustard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread as examples of "down-home cuisine that originated with African Americans in the Southern United States hundreds of years ago that is still a traditional favorite for African Americans and Southerners alike."
It remains to be seen how successful all these efforts will be in the long run. But the immediate effect, especially that of the new Green Giant, is to encourage everyone concerned about the future of frozen foods. Packaged Facts wouldn't be surprised to see other marketers and brand adopt a similar strategy for their frozen foods, officials say.