Exclusive Interview: Frozen Finger Food Trends Defy Borders


Last month, finger food manufacturer Frostkrone announced it has acquired Rite Stuff Floods. Frozen Food Europe recently sat down with the company’s CEO, Frédéric Dervieux, to find more about the takeover, but also to discuss Frostkrone’s future plans for expansion, new products and more.

What is the reasoning behind the acquisition of Rite Stuff Foods Inc.?

This acquisition was the next logical step for us to stringently implement the company’s growth strategy. In this way, we are again expanding the product range of the Frostkrone Group – following Varenne Gastronomie and Piz`wich which became part of the Frostkrone Group in 2018. Moreover, we are expanding transatlantic trade relations. We are convinced that Rite Stuff Foods, Inc., with its successful history and roots in the USA, will become a strong platform not only to offer our wide range of product innovations to current US customers, but also to tap new local customer potentials. Together with Rite Stuff Foods, Inc. we will showcase Frostkrone Group on the US market.

How does this company’s products complement Frostkrone’s portfolio?

Rite Stuff Foods, Inc. uses only original Idaho potatoes. The company manufactures a variety of potato products, e.g. baked and filled potatoes, stuffed potato boats, potato wedges in various flavors, and potato pancakes, rolls and hearts. This is an excellent addition to our portfolio of finger foods and snacks. Also, the products meet the country-specific taste. Based on the resulting insights, we can adapt and expand our portfolio for the US market.

We are currently working on new concepts: we will harness the extensive know-how of Rite Stuff Foods, Inc. to develop new, finger-friendly potato snacks that perfectly fit our portfolio of finger foods and snacks. Here we see ample opportunities to make the product portfolio even more exciting and to offer the consumer potato snacks that can be flexibly and easily prepared. From conversations with our international partners in retail trade and food service, we know that such an offer in finger food and snack is of international interest.

What are the main benefits pertaining to this integration?

We have been maintaining good business relationships with the US for several years already. Having a business location directly on site was the logical consequence of the developments and discussions with the trading partners. Rite Stuff Foods, Inc. has excellent business contacts. Particularly in the US, it is important to have a location directly on site in order to be able to act from there – close to the customer.

What is your overall expansion strategy for the future, and do you have any other acquisitions planned?

Frostkrone has posted continuously increasing sales figures since 2013. Likewise, the quantity of goods produced and the number of markets has risen steadily. On the one part, this is a cause for joy, but on the other, this also means that we need to expand our production capacities to keep pace with this development.

CEO Frédéric Dervieux

Furthermore, with the expansion of exports, we have realized how important it is to have a location there. The advantage: we get to better know our target group and their preferences. Due to the newly acquired product range, we will meet the particular wishes and satisfy country-typical tastes. We also get into a better communication with our business partners in the retail sector and foodservice. This will allow us to successfully position ourselves in the respective markets on a long-term basis. Therefore, the acquisitions were the logical consequence. We also want to continue to grow in future, so it may well be that we will add even more sites. It is important for us that the companies fit in with the Frostkrone Group and that we pursue the same goals.

Generally, do you expand your market reach via greenfield or brownfield investments?

An entirely new and completely digitized production plant currently makes little sense for us and is not planned. But, of course, we keep up with the times and use the increasing digital solutions to optimize our processes from the delivery of raw materials to the transport of goods to the customer.

Please discuss the current trends in frozen food, focusing on Rite Stuff Foods portfolio, as well as Frostkrone’s.

With our products we address the young and the young at heart target group. Our portfolio includes flexible and easy to prepare finger food, that can be eaten everywhere – without time-consuming preparation. Frostkrone offers a large and varied selection – from meat and fish to vegetarian and vegan products.

In the frozen finger food segment, it is important to offer a large variety. To be always up to date, we develop our products based on current trends. We conduct consumer surveys, inform ourselves about current developments in other industries and work closely with renowned food trend institutes. And that’s how we created our brand-new innovations:

  • Lava Bites feature black coating akin to volcanic rock with a trail of lava-like cheese. The red jalapeños give these bites a hint of spiciness. For this product we visually modified the popular Chilli Cheese Nuggets and adapted their taste a bit.
  • Crack`n`Cheese Cubes come in a unique shape, which is both original and handy. The coating is made of crispy batter and they are filled on the inside with macaroni, cheese sauce and bacon. The filling originates from America and is very trendy in Europe as well.
  • The Apple Love Balls can be served as a small dessert or as a garnish, e.g. with vanilla ice cream.
  • Piz’wich organic Pizza Pocket is a vegetarian pizza pocket the Italian style. The snack takes only 2 minutes in the microwave or 15 minutes in the oven to be ready.
  • Rite Stuff Foods, Inc. products include the twice-baked original Idaho® potatoes, baked, halved and hand-scooped. They are available in different varieties, among others, filled with bacon, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, pork meat and BBQ chicken

Which are some of the main challenges you are faced with as a frozen food producer and what steps do you take in order to overcome them?

The challenges we have to face every day include matching the taste of the target group, creating variety and, above all, occasions. It is important for us to be flexible and effective and always deliver the highest quality. We need to know the latest trends and translate them into new product ideas.

In recent years, we have focused on innovation. Therefore, we are using the potential of our employees, let ourselves be inspired by trends in other industries, and also refer back to the external know-how of renowned food institutes. This is how our new products were created.

A “Finger food and Snacks” category is important for us, so that consumers can find the right products quickly and easily in the shops. In some countries this is already standard, in others there is still a need to catch up.

Consumer behavior and expectations are changing constantly. Please discuss this from your perspective and include details on your efforts to meet such expectations.

Finger food and Snacks is a very trend-driven category where we have to respond to changes continuously. Therefore, it is good that we work independently of raw materials.  We are thus much more flexible: whether fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, cheese or fruit – our goals are new finger food ideas that give the consumer maximum enjoyment. We also launch new vegetarian and vegan products that fit our existing product portfolio.

How important is the North American market for you and what are the most important geographies you are currently present on?

The Frostkrone Group is present worldwide. The current product range is delivered Europe-wide, among others to Scandinavia, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, and Great Britain, as well as to Eastern Europe and Russia, since 2017 also to the US. We want to further expand our commitment in the US market and look forward to intensifying our customer contacts there in the near future. At the same time, the German and European markets are very important to us. This is where Frostkrone Group is headquartered. It is important for us that our partners in trade and foodservice can rely on us. We are consultants who support them with our ideas and concepts to offer a diverse and attractive range, which also has positive effects on their sales.

Have you noticed any major differences in consumer behavior towards frozen food products between the EU and US?

The important hot food trends are international and apply across borders and continents. We also see this in the product selections that we bring to the frozen shelves across borders or to the foodservice. Of course, there are regional and national preferences. This is certainly known in all countries. For years, however, it has already become clear that the more global and flexible companies become, the more global trends are lived and loved. American Style has established itself a few years ago in finger food and snacks, as well as, for example, Bavarian specialties are consumed worldwide – in connection with the popular Oktoberfest. Our new innovation Crack`n`Cheese is such an example: Mac‘n’Cheese is a US trend, which is very popular in Europe.

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