Frozen Food's Role in Supporting a Sustainable Future

Industry leaders convene at 1st-ever International Frozen Food Conference, in Germany
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Feeding the world
A global dialog on the sustainability and benefits of frozen food took place during International Frozen Food Conference.

The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) leadership and representatives from U.S. frozen food processors joined international counterparts to highlight the benefits of the category at the first-ever International Frozen Food Conference, in Cologne, Germany. The conference was held on Oct. 8 in conjunction with Anuga, a global trade fair for food and beverages, and focused on frozen food’s role in supporting a healthy and sustainable future. AFFI highlighted new research and initiatives from the United States that demonstrate the sustainability of frozen food and how the industry is positioned for future global success.

“Frozen food has seen incredible growth over recent years and, thanks to its unique attributes, is positioned to better serve communities and populations across global markets,” said AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor. “The International Frozen Food Conference is an excellent venue to discuss how frozen food will play an important role in the future and help the entire category promote the benefits of frozen food. As world leaders and governments work to support healthier diets and reduce food waste, frozen food is truly a game-changer.”

Two recent studies, from market research firm 210 Analytics and the Cornell University Dyson School of Business, have found that frozen food can play an important role in lowering food waste rates.

In a survey by San Antonio-based 210 Analytics of more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, exploring concerns, attitudes and behavior related to wasting food and the value of buying frozen products or freezing food at home, 83% of respondents agreed that buying frozen food is a good way to limit the amount of food waste in their households. Consumers largely noted that they benefit from the ability to prepare what they need with frozen food, and 79% said that the ability to prepare exact portions is a purchase driver. Respondents also noted that frozen ingredients offered additional meal flexibility, with nine in 10 frozen food consumers agreeing that frozen food allows them to have a backup plan without the risk of spoilage.

A 2023 literature review conducted by Ithaca, N.Y.-based Cornell University analyzed the rate of food waste in grocery stores and households. The analysis affirmed that, in general, frozen foods are wasted less than their fresh counterparts at both the retail and consumer levels. While the rates of food waste vary among different types of food, among the fruits and vegetables studied, the frozen products are typically much less likely to be thrown out than their fresh counterparts. Additional research found that low-income shoppers indicated they cant financially afford to waste food and that frozen food ingredients help them save money because theyre able to use the food over time.

Meanwhile, new legislation introduced over the summer would add frozen fruits and vegetables to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Senate bill S.2223, the Supporting All Healthy Options When Purchasing Produce (SHOPP) Act, would ensure that certain key nutrition programs include the promotion of fresh frozen produce for lower-income Americans.

“The SHOPP Act will help ensure that households can more easily achieve a healthy diet with SNAP and increase their produce consumption, thanks to frozen fruits and vegetables,” said Bodor. “We urge Congress to act now on the SHOPP Act to help families enjoy fruits and vegetables.”

The International Frozen Food Conference was organized by the International Frozen Food Network (IFFN), a global federation of trade associations created to exchange information and promote global collaboration on issues affecting the frozen food industry.

Suvan Sharma, CEO of Merced, Calif.-based Jain Farm Fresh Foods and chair-elect of the AFFI board of directors, and John Sayers, director of sales and marketing at Watsonville, Calif.-based Superior Foods, were among the AFFI participants in the conference. Additionally, Belgium-based AFFI member Ardo was represented by its director of sustainability, Emilie Haspeslagh.

A member of IFFN, AFFI is the member-driven national trade association representing all segments of the frozen food supply chain, from manufacturers to suppliers and distributors. Arlington, Va.-based AFFI advocates before legislative and regulatory entities on the industry’s behalf, serves as the voice for the industry and convenes industry leadership to create an environment where frozen foods are essential in a dynamic marketplace. 

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