Frozen food sales have grown in four of the past five years and were up 2.6 percent in 2018 alone, according to a study by the American Frozen Foods Institute (AFFI). Frozen food is a $56.7 billion industry in the U.S. and a $220.0 billion industry globally, with both numbers expected to continue rising.
Over the years, frozen foods have been seen by many as overly processed and less nutritious than fresh alternatives, but shifting consumer needs are helping the category evolve. Convenience is a major driver behind consumer interest in frozen food.
For example, millennials are entering the busiest years of their lives as they juggle children and full-time careers, allowing them less time to cook. Furthermore, one study estimates that heads of households younger than 25 are significantly more likely to eat frozen breakfasts and dinners than their older counterparts, per Food Dive.
Improved quality may be another factor contributing to more frozen food sales. Modified starches are a key component to effective thawing properties because they can minimize the “frozen taste.” Overall greater food consumption may increase demand for modified starches.
In addition to convenience and quality, certain frozen food products can also be low-cost, surprisingly healthy, and good tasting. These reasons have encouraged two-thirds of households to consume frozen foods at least weekly if not every few days or daily, per AFFI.
In 2018, the top categories for U.S. frozen food sales included entrées ($9.2 billion), poultry and processed poultry ($7.3 billion), ice cream ($6.8 billion), novelties ($5.2 billion), and pizza ($4.9 billion).
Five-year dollar and unit sales growth, frozen foods