Frozen foods ease mealtime budget crunch

In a world of compromise, frozen foods are emerging as the preferred medium between the extremes of frequently dining at restaurants and cooking time-consuming meals at home. Estimates reveal that U.S. retail sales of frozen foods and beverages through all retail channels totaled almost $52 billion in 2008, up 6.5 percent or $49 billion in 2007, according to Packaged Facts

Between 2004 and 2008, frozen breakfast foods enjoyed the highest compound annual growth rate CAGR at 7.9 percent, while the frozen beverages classification posted a compound annual loss of 1.1 percent.

Whether eaten at home with family or “brown-bagged” to work for lunch, frozen foods offer a convenience that appeals to American consumers with little money and time to spare. Innovative convenience—such as a new cooking method that preserves taste, texture and nutrition—ranks high in consumer draws. And though health and wellness attributes are also key to success, indulgence is still in the mix as evidenced by popular products that either boast premium ingredients or offer decadent taste experiences in lighter dish formats. Ultimately, sheer convenience is still king among attributes consumers crave the most.

“It’s no coincidence that some of the fastest-growing products in the frozen foods market benefit from having a convenience edge such as portability, being ready-to-eat or offering no-mess consumption and easy clean-up. Packaging formats cashing in on this angle include single-serve pouches, portionable packs and ‘servings for two,’” says Publisher Tatjana Meerman.

Such convenience- and health-targeted introductions are expected to carry the market even after the recession is over. Packaged Facts projects that retail sales of frozen foods and beverages through all retail channels will reach almost $65 billion in 2013, an increase of more than 25 percent or $13 billion over 2008 revenues.