Frozen food ranks high on US consumers shopping lists as nearly two-thirds of supermarket trips result in frozen foods sales, the report conducted by Leo J Shapiro & Associates showed.
Shopper’s habits are an important consideration for food manufacturers looking to introduce new products or encourage customer loyalty.
Recent IRI research showed that in tough financial times, families are eating more home-cooked meals as 53 percent of people are cooking from scratch and/or buying more convenience-style foods such as frozen vegetables, frozen prepared poultry and refrigerated side dishes to save money.
But IRI said food manufacturers need to innovate “like never before”, creating new products, new packaging, rethinking portions and developing other strategies to build and maintain shopper loyalty.
The Frozen Food Departments: Store Traffic and Shopper Satisfaction study, in cooperation with Frozen Food Age magazine, looked at purchasing habits and shopper satisfaction in 11 frozen food categories and found that traffic in the frozen food section was “robust”.
It showed that upscale shoppers tended to buy frozen sweets such as pies, ice cream and desserts. Moderate income buyers steered towards meat and seafood.
Larger households bought more chicken or turkey, pies and breakfast products or waffles whereas smaller households purchased more dinners, seafood, and ice cream.
Editor of the magazine, Alan Robinson, said: "Most purchasers shop and buy more than one category of frozen food.
“When frozen foods are bought on regular food trips, purchases are made -- on average -- in three frozen food categories."
The 11 categories reviewed were bread/rolls, breakfast/waffles, chicken/turkey, desserts, dinners, ice cream, meats/sausage, pies, pizza, seafood and vegetables.
Meanwhile new product roll-outs in the frozen food sector are embracing the health and wellness trend and proving popular among consumers, according to a list of the top ten frozen goods introduced in 2008, voted for by Frozen Food Age readers.
Heading the Top New Product awards was Green Giant Health Blends, followed by Dole No Sugar Added Sliced Strawberries and Sara Lee Cheesecake Bites.
The other new products were Lean Cuisine Flatbread Melts, Weight Watchers Ice Cream Cups, Dole Wildly Nutritious Signature Blends, Kellogg’s Eggo Bake Show Swirlz, Freschetta PizzAmore, Klondike Slim-A-Bear Ice Cream Bars, and New York Dip’N Sticks.
Robinson, said: “The fact that the top two vote-getters among this year’s best ten products were a vegetable and a fruit product indicates that frozen food manufacturers are really connecting with consumers on the health and wellness movement.”
He added that it also indicated manufacturers were “dedicated to making their products great-tasting and nutritious”.
The nutritious value of frozen foods was recently highlighted by The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI). It has called for frozen foods to be recognized in official government child nutrition programs on an equal footing with raw products, highlighting the importance of a varied, healthy diet.