ConAgra on a mission to change consumer perceptions of ’highly processed’ frozen meals

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

ConAgra seeks to change perceptions of ’highly processed’ frozen meals

Related tags Nutrition

Four out of five US consumers believe that frozen foods are ‘highly processed’ (which carries negative connotations in most people’s minds), according to new research from ConAgra Foods.

An online survey of 1,013 Americans conducted by Braun Research for ConAgra on March 4-7, found that many consumers see frozen foods in a very negative light, when in fact, they have fewer preservatives and lock in more nutrients, generate less food waste, and help people manage their weight via portion control, said the firm.

“The vegetables in Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's frozen meals are picked at the peak of freshness and blanched before being frozen; a technique many home cooks use. Most vegetables' journey from farm to freezer happens within 24 hours to preserve color, texture and maximum freshness.”

Food trends expert Phil Lempert, who works closely with ConAgra Foods, added: "Frozen fruits and vegetables are typically harvested and flash frozen, which slows the loss of nutrients compared to their raw counterparts in which the nutrients continue to degrade over time.

"Some raw produce can spend as much as half of its peak freshness period in distribution."

Saturated fat and sodium levels lower in many frozen meals

Meanwhile, many frozen ready meals have lower sodium and saturated fat than home-cooked equivalents, said ConAgra, which presented a ‘myth-busting’ session at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia last year in which nutrition manager Dr Kristen Reimers unveiled an analysis of the nutritional content of four of her firm’s frozen entrees with home-cooked equivalents.

This showed that sugar, fiber and protein levels were much the same, while saturated fat and sodium levels were lower in the ConAgra products.

Similarly, research consistently shows that frozen ready meals are a cost-effective tool for weight management, providing a more appealing and filling option at lunchtime than a bar or meal replacement shake - with fewer calories, sodium and fat than many snacks and sandwiches, she said.

“Yet so few registered dietitians recommend frozen meals to clients.”

Click here to watch a new video ​created by ConAgra that follows two women organizing their shopping lists and accessing product reviews and nutrition information in real time using their smartphones.

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