On a daily basis, consumers face significant challenges to making balanced lifestyle choices. Hectic schedules, cost factors and other barriers often get in the way of good intentions to eat well, exercise and manage stress.
In fact, research from The NPD Groups National Eating Trends database shows that U.S. consumers, on average, succeed in meeting USDA Dietary Guidelines for the recommended intake of dairy, fruit, grains, proteins and vegetables on just seven days out of the year — that’s just 2 percent of the time.
The majority of consumers prepare meals at home, with one in five reported to be a frozen prepared meal. The frozen food aisle offers many nutritious options with some surprising advantages. When consumers were asked to name the benefits of purchasing and consuming frozen prepared meals, taste, convenience and value were named as the most important.
In addition, frozen foods can actually save calories and provide similar nutritional benefits to those of freshly prepared foods.
Manage Weight and Calories
According to a 2013 Harris Interactive poll, more than half of consumers identified “helping to control weight” and “managing caloric intake” as important attributes of frozen meals. It’s possible to include one to two frozen prepared meals a day and stay within the current daily recommended limits for fat, sodium and cholesterol, while meeting or exceeding fiber requirements and staying within calorie limits. To do so, consumers need to pay close attention to Nutrition Facts panels and the corresponding portion sizes shown on labels. Retail dietitians can offer store tours highlighting fit-friendly frozen foods combining convenience with good nutrition. Further, they can point out individually packaged frozen foods to help customers enjoy the taste of indulgent favorites while keeping portion sizes in check.
Boost Fruits and Veggies
Over the past five years, per capita fruit and vegetable consumption has declined by 7 percent, with consumers eating only 46 percent of the recommended servings. Frozen produce offers a convenient solution to this intake concern. For example, frozen veggies are easy to prepare in the microwave — often in their original packaging. Variety has broadened as well, with edamame, kale and stir-fry blends offered alongside mainstays such as string beans and corn. Also, while research shows that breakfast eaters are drinking less traditional juice, frozen fruits and vegetables are perfect additions to popular blended smoothies.
Save Time and Money
From a time standpoint, both frozen vegetables and fruits are available cut and ready—taking the cleaning, slicing and dicing out of the prep equation. As a bonus, they’re typically cheaper than fresh-cut produce. Data show that it’s common for younger shoppers to “de-select” frozen foods in flavor of fresh. Highlight frozen options that are picked and packed at the peak of ripeness, without added sodium, sugar and fat. Frozen fruits such as blueberries, mangoes, raspberries and strawberries are frequently sold in zipper-top bags to ease pouring and resealing.
One of the best times of the year to guide customers toward meals made using healthful frozen foods is March, celebrated nationally as both Nutrition Month and Frozen Food Month. Offer interactive, dietitian-led tours to help shoppers navigate the frozen food section to find hidden gems that can help families eat more nutritious meals together at home on busy nights. In addition, use ad circulars, in–store demonstrations, and social and traditional media messaging to help consumers find frozen food items that ft into their healthy lifestyles.
The majority of consumers prepare meals at home, with one in five reported to be a frozen prepared meal.