Frozen Foods Among the Fastest-growing Categories in the Grocery Store, AFFI Study Finds

The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and FMI—the Food Industry Association released the second Power of Frozen report during AFFI’s Frozen Food Convention (AFFI-CON). The Power of Frozen 2021 identifies megatrends influencing the demand for frozen foods, including increased engagement in all categories, online shopping and health and well-being.

“The frozen food aisle has been a growth driver for retailers since 2016 with acceleration ahead of most other departments,” AFFI president and CEO Alison Bodor said. “Frozen foods are a pandemic powerhouse ringing in $65.1 billion in retail sales in 2020, a 21% increase compared to a year ago.”

In 2020, frozen food sales grew in both dollars (+21%) and units (+13.3%), with nearly all types of frozen foods seeing double-digit sales increases, according to the study. The top-three frozen food categories with the largest percentage of dollar growth in 2020, according to IRI, include seafood (+35.3%), poultry (+34.7%), and appetizers (+28.9%).

“Shoppers are nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and are having more family meals at home than ever before. They are looking for meal plans, culinary creativity and convenient, cost-effective solutions,” FMI vice president of Industry Relations Doug Baker said. “The frozen foods category offers these benefits to shoppers and that’s why we see all areas – from meal ingredients to meal solutions – reaching new audiences and increasing purchases.”

As consumers turned to online shopping at a record rate, the vast majority were adding frozen to their digital cart. Over the past year, 42% of households that buy frozen foods have bought frozen foods online, up from 23% in 2018. Online frozen food dollar sales increased 75% in 2020, with frozen dinners/entrees, meat, poultry and seafood being the biggest online sellers.

Amid the pandemic, the share of core frozen food consumers, defined as those who consume frozen food daily or every few days, rose from 35% in 2018 to 39% in 2020. High-frequency frozen food consumers are more likely than low-frequency consumers to purchase frozen foods for planned, specific occasions.

The Power of Frozen was conducted by 210 Analytics and was made possible by Pictsweet, Wawona Frozen Foods, J.R. Simplot Co., and Firestone Pacific Foods.

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