The Frozen Journey
Frozen foods have come a very long way. After many years of slumping sales, the freezer aisle has become a bright spot in the supermarket again. With nearly everyone buying frozen food, the category (in Canada) is now valued at $4.9 billion-dollars and growing +1%. 
The negative stigma around frozen food (too processed, very cookie-cutter) has evolved and consumers are now flocking to the frozen food aisle. It’s easy to find healthy meals that can be prepared with little effort and cost less than take out. In fact, 43% of millennials find themselves shopping the frozen food set more frequently than last year.  The age group is quickly embracing the frozen landscape as a quick lunch or dinner solution.
With convenience being a huge driver of frozen sales, consumers are often buying frozen prepared meals and side dishes to keep on hand in the freezer when they do not have time or do not want to cook at all! Frozen dinner/entrees have grown to $1.69 billion which is +3% over the prior year. Interestingly, Family size portions exceed (+4%) the growth of the single serve portions (+1%).  This suggests that consumers buying for their families believe frozen meals are a trusty alternative to cooking from scratch.
Fueling the growth in the category is the fact that it is bursting with new brands with emerging benefits.
Smaller brands are innovators at creating products that are of higher quality and made with fresh ingredients.  Attributes like no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, gluten free, organic, superfoods, vegetarian, and ethical welfare are all resonating with today’s frozen food consumer. Globally inspired meals also peak consumers interest and desire for variety. 
Innovation in frozen has brought new technologies that help preserve nutrients and aid at increasing product shelf life. Steamer packs and other preparation methods also help to preserve freshness in the cooking process. 
Frozen will continue to be a hot spot in grocery stores as new innovative brands continue being launched. More and more consumers are turning to the frozen food aisle for convenient meal options that save time but also offer higher quality products made with better for you ingredients.
Written by Yuriko Kitano, Senior Marketing Insights Manager at Tree of Life Canada
1. Mintel Report
2. Acosta’s custom shopper survey August 2017 and Nielsen 52wks Panel and Syndicated Data ending July 15 and Sept. 9, 2017
3. Nielsen 52wks ending Mar. 3, 2018
4. The Hartman Group March 2016
5. Mintel GNPD
6. The Hartman Group March 2016