Frozen Fruit & Vegetables: From Simple to Sophisticated

fruit & vegetables

NPD in the frozen fruit & vegetable space is marked by increasing sophistication in flavors, formats and cooking methods, as well as greater targeting of specific needstates and usage occasions, Gama’s latest research reveals.

By Tom Warden, editorial director, Gama

Venturing beyond their role as a simple convenient staple, frozen fruit and vegetables are now seeking to reach out to a broader audience through value-added ‘oven roast’ and flavored concepts, as well as through positioning for defined recipes or occasions, such as by aligning to the trend for home-made smoothies. Despite such moves in the direction of premiumization, however, frozen fruit and vegetables continue to represent a ‘value’ choice, especially in comparison to their fresh counterparts. According to insights from Gama Compass, Gama’s platform for FMCG innovation, the average price of global frozen fruit and vegetable launches since 2014 has been $0.57 per 100g, around half that of equivalents in the chilled space.

A blending blitz

From a consumer perspective, one of the principal driving forces behind the evolution of frozen fruit and vegetable products has been a desire to get more ‘hands on’ in the kitchen, using fruit and vegetables not just as simple accompaniments but also as ingredients in increasingly creative and sophisticated dishes. For manufacturers and retailers, this has represented a clear premiumization opportunity, with companies now able to position products for named recipes or occasions, or else to combine ingredients together to create ‘kits’ for a specific culinary purpose.

Among the most prominent examples of this type of on-trend innovation has been the explosion in frozen ‘kits’ targeting home smoothie making, in line with the buzz around what might be termed ‘convenient nutrition’. For frozen fruit in particular, this trend has been a boon, with its key USPs of convenience and value leaving it well placed to compete with fresh fruit for this purpose: not only typically cheaper by comparison, it is also often quicker and easier to prepare, stores for longer and is not affected in the same way by issues of seasonal availability.

On the European stage, one of the first companies to capitalize on the possibilities of positioning frozen fruit for smoothie making was Nomad Foods, with the launch of its Findus Batir Y Listo (‘Just Blend’) range in Spain in 2015. Promoted as “easy to prepare, tasty and very refreshing”, the line offered assortments of prepared strawberry & pineapple and mango & pineapple, and was launched alongside a similar concept that saw vegetable blends specifically marketed for making chilled gazpacho soup.

Elsewhere, a whole host of retailers have also looked to frozen fruit ‘kits’ in order to tap into the home smoothie craze, from Tesco, Asda and Morrisons in the UK to Woolworths in Australia, in the case of the latter via a tie-up with juice bar company Boost. Increasingly, these ‘smoothie kits’ are also branching out to include vegetable ingredients such as beetroot and ‘greens’, as consumers seek out more palatable and convenient ways to increase their vegetable intake.

The complete version of this article is available in the September-October print issue of Frozen Food Europe