Report: Frozen Food Gaining on Fresh

Oct. 4, 2021
Fresh food is still one of the most important kinds of food for consumers, but frozen food is quickly gaining market share, according to a new report from Deloitte.

Fresh food is still one of the most important kinds of food for consumers, but frozen food is quickly gaining market share, according to a new report from Deloitte.

The report, “Fresh vs. Frozen: The Future of Fresh in a Changing Competitive Landscape,” is based on a representative survey of 2,000 adults conducted in July. It found that while fresh food is still considered a necessity by many consumers – more than 90% of them said it “makes them happy” – concerns about expense and other factors, some sparked by the pandemic, are helping boost frozen food.

One of the biggest such concerns is shelf life. Some 60% of respondents said the shelf life of the fresh food they buy has decreased since the pandemic, which may be indicative of supply chain issues but is more likely related to less frequent shopping trips.

Food waste may be overriding packaging waste as a concern for consumers. Packaged fresh food was preferred over bulk by 60% of consumers; about the same percentage believe that packaged food stays fresh longer.

Price is also a big factor. “With inflation driving prices up, cheaper frozen food is looking better by comparison,” the report says. The belief that fresh food prices went up “more than [was] justified” is shared by 82% of respondents.

In arguably the most important metric, 40% to 50% of respondents say frozen food is as good or better than fresh. There was a strong age component to this attitude. Among 18- to 34-year olds, 57% said frozen vegetables were as good or better than fresh, compared with 39% of those 55 and older; for meat, the respective numbers were 51% and 29%.

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