The Power of Frozen 2019, a hot-off-the-presses report from the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI), shows that frozen foods are making a comeback, creating more opportunity for meat and poultry innovations. In 2018, both dollar sales (+2.6 percent) and units (+2.3 percent) grew, with nine out of 10 top-selling categories up in dollars and all 10 up in units. Frozen food is an enormous department for most retailers, ringing up nearly $57 billion annually.

Survey respondents who consume frozen food at least once a month provided insight into the types of items they eat and how often. This shows the array of opportunities for improving both category-level household penetration and consumption frequency. Food types that have a high household penetration in general, but with room to grow in frozen food are fruits, sides, breakfast items and appetizers/snacks. Three out of four of these categories may include meat and poultry. (See graph above.)

Overall frozen food growth was driven by more dollars and trips, in 2018, while household engagement was largely unchanged. The core frozen food shoppers are buying more and visiting the aisle more often. Core shoppers are older millennials, juggling families and careers, and they are heavily focused on convenience in their shopping and meal preparation. In addition to convenience, core frozen food shoppers stated they also value the taste, quality, variety and consistency of the food itself; they are willing to be more adventurous with their palate and trying new cuisines.

The entrée category reigns supreme at $9.2 billion annually; however, growth can be seen in most frozen food categories, reflecting how frozen foods are part of most meal solutions.

“One could argue that frozen meals are the original meal kit,” says Alison Bodor, president and CEO of AFFI.

The Top 3 frozen food categories with the largest percentage of dollar growth are:

  • Soups/sides (+9.8 percent)
  • Appetizers/snack rolls (+5.8 percent)
  • Breakfast food (+5.7 percent)