News highlights, market trends, and original data analysis related to the U.S. retail food & beverage industry … by Jay Nargundkar
This week, a New York Times article chronicled the sad state of frozen meals and the challenge that brands like Stouffer’s face in overcoming “the perception among some consumers that processed frozen meals are not as tasty or nutritious as freshly prepared meals”.
Another major problem the Times article identifies is that the category is tarnished by the microwaveable monstrosities that look like spoiled airplane food. A hilarious article on Jezebel compares the picture and slogan on a frozen meal’s box versus what said meal actually looks and tastes like. Many reactions involve expletives or gross bodily functions, but even the tamer ones are damning:
Broccoli and Cheddar Roasted Potatoes, Smart Ones
The box says: “Roasted russet potatoes topped with broccoli and cheddar cheese sauce.”
Real talk: Wrinkled potatoes and bendy broccoli dance to sad music in a yellow sauce.
Macaroni & Cheese, Smart Ones
The box says: “Casserole favorite bursting with cheese flavor.”
Real talk: Melted yellow plastic over squishy noodles.
While Stouffer and others try to re-ignite consumer excitement for frozen meals, they may want to take a look at their counterparts in the frozen aisle who are targeting a different eating occasion: breakfast. Frozen breakfast sales have been performing quite well; as noted earlier this week on this site, cold cereal sales have been sluggish, and consumers are looking for other convenient options, especially protein-rich options. The data backs this up — a scan of Nielsen’s frozen food categories reveals that 4 of the top 10 fastest-growers (in dollar sales) are breakfast related.
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