Who would’ve thought that frozen foods have a whole month all to themselves? That’s right. March is National Frozen Food month. While the holiday originated in the U.S., Canada’s centre of store sales have been rising over the past five years. So what better time to take a peek into the freezer and see why the frozen aisle is so important to manufacturers, retailers and consumers?
With the Canadian dollar falling and prices of fresh produce rising, consumers are naturally flocking to the frozen food aisle. This group of categories in Canada has seen a 3.5% increase in sales (year-over-year as of Feb. 26, 2016). While this may not seem that significant, it represents a not too shabby increase of over $188 million dollars.
So, what is the driving force behind this increase? Frozen produce. Frozen fruits are leading the charts with an 11% sales increase, while frozen vegetables are right behind at 8% over the previous year. With the prices of fresh produce riding high these days, consumers are increasingly looking for cost effective alternatives and substitutes. And retailers have tremendous clout to leverage the sticker shock consumers are being faced with when shopping fresh products in the frozen aisle. As evidenced by the numbers, frozen produce seems to appeal to Canadian consumers who want to include healthy food in their diets, without the worry of it going to waste. For many consumers, frozen produce is a way to get the best bang for their buck.
Frozen (family size) dinners are also heating up sales in the frozen aisle, as busy families are seeking healthy and convenient options for dinner time. And convenience is the key word—sales of premade meat patties offer busy, on-the-go consumers the promise to cut down on meal preparation time. Meat patties and entrees have seen dollar sales increase 18% and 2%, respectively.
Considering current economic conditions, retailers have an undeniable opportunity to secure consumer dollars by ensuring their freezers are well stocked with healthy and convenient meal options that, at the same time, will take some pressure off a higher grocery bill.