Tyson Foods has unveiled its summer trends report, which reveals insights from the company’s top food thinkers and innovators. The meat giant has asked them to identify what the next big waves are in the culinary world this summer and as it turns out, one of them is frozen food.
The report highlights that frozen food is back in fashion. There’s a resurgence in the popularity of frozen foods as people seek convenience and become more educated about preservatives and the power of frozen to seal in nutrients. 32% of shoppers polled by Acosta, a sales and marketing research group, said they planned to buy more frozen food in the coming year. Millennials are among the enthusiasts – 43% planning to buy more frozen food than last year as they seek items that require less prep and can be stored longer.
The increased popularity of flash frozen vegetables, smoothie mixes, and acai bowls are among the attractions, along with new pizza flavors – think cauliflower crust – and healthier frozen entrees and proteins, such as Tyson air-fried chicken strips, coming soon, notes the report. Always a consumer favorite – frozen veggie sales are on the incline too. According to Nilsen, year-to-year sales jumped 4.5% in 2017.
So why is frozen food heating up? Today, brands are leaning into health and convenience. Zoodles (spiralized zucchini), cauliflower fried rice and Jimmy Dean breadless egg sandwiches are just a few examples of newer offerings in the frozen aisles. According to a study by the University of California at Davis, in some cases, frozen items even had a slight edge in nutritional value compared to fresh produce. Consumers also no longer have to feel guilty for using only half of their fresh spinach and throwing the rest away and thus converge towards sustainability. Frozen lets consumers keep their produce longer and at the same time, save a penny or two.
Other than frozen food, the trend report highlights that alternative proteins are the future. And the next-generation of superhero proteins are plant-based. As these new products proliferate, they are set to go mainstream, becoming a mainstay on menus, whether eating in or dining out.
What does that mean exactly? It means the big burger franchises are rolling out meatless options. Even Ikea is working on a new meatless version of their iconic Swedish meatballs. And this trend isn’t limited to restaurants; consumers are snapping up alternative protein products at grocery stores, too. The numbers reflect the interest: the alternative protein segment is growing double digits. This is clearly a trend that is not going away. Later this summer, consumers will even be able to grab Tyson Foods’ first-ever plant-based nuggets from our new brand, Raised & Rooted.
Demand for protein in all its forms has never been higher. And while the majority of consumers aren’t interested in eliminating animal protein from their diets (traditional meat sources are still the top seller) 70% of meat eaters are substituting a non-meat protein into a meal at least once a week.
Tyson also notes that side dishes have grown in popularity. Food culture is on the rise and so, too, is the side dish. 2019 data from Datassential shows that side items were among the newest items added to menus in the casual and quick service restaurant (QSR) space. One difference: people are seeking side dishes with a center-of-plate punch, regarding them less as meal complements and more as meal makers.
As barbecue goers decide what to bring to spice up the menu, they will be looking at interesting new flavor-packed ingredients, often adding proteins like chicken, beef or pork to increase the nutritional value and cut back on the carbs. While backyard grills will continue to be filled with your favorite burger or hot dog this summer, expect to see side dishes taking more prominence on your plate.