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Higher Frozen Food Sales Could Last Beyond COVID-19

Higher Frozen Food Sales Could Last Beyond COVID-19
New and returning frozen food consumers are growing the category's sales, according to research from AFFI and 210 Analytics

While frozen foods have realized historic sales increases at retail since the coronavirus pandemic began, a new consumer survey has found that demand is likely to outlive the current public health crisis.

According to Frozen Food Sales Amid COVID-19, commissioned by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and conducted by San Antonio-based 210 Analytics LLC, the category has recently garnered new customers, returning purchasers, a high level of satisfaction and an intention to continue purchases throughout the year.

The survey’s findings include:

  • Sales remain strong: After a 94% increase in mid-March, overall frozen food sales are holding at 30%-35% increases in April 2020 versus a year ago.
  • Most Americans are buying frozen food: 86% of all consumers have bought frozen food items, such as frozen pizza, vegetables and entrees, since early March. “This includes an equal share of frequent frozen food buyers, as well as consumers who don’t consider themselves regular purchasers,” noted 210 Analytics Principal and Founder Anne-Marie Roerink.
  • The category gained new customers: 7% of consumers who rarely or never purchased frozen foods before the pandemic are now buying them. “This is a tremendous expansion of the category that could have long-term implications,” said Roerink. “This includes Gen Z buyers, as well as Baby Boomers who left the category during the TV dinner era – returning now to find newer, tastier products.”
  • Loyal customers are buying more and trying new items: As well as new shoppers visiting the aisle, current frozen food consumers are altering their frozen buying behaviors: 70% are buying more than usual, and 68% are trying new brands and products.
  • Satisfaction is high: Consumers are really happy with their new frozen purchases. On a five-point scale where five is excellent, convenience got the highest ranking, at 4.3, and quality came in second, at 4.1.
  • Buyers will come back: 50% of consumers who’ve bought frozen foods since the advent of COVID-19 said that they’ll purchase a lot more (18%) or somewhat more (32%) over the next few months.

“This study suggests frozen will remain a category heavyweight for months and years ahead as the category attracts new and returning customers who are relying on a variety of frozen foods to provide much-needed convenience and satisfaction,” said Alison Bodor, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based AFFI. “These results show growth in the category that goes beyond the popularity with Millennials that was illustrated in our ‘2019 Power of Frozen’ study,” done in partnership with the Food Industry Association - FMI.

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