Frozen innovations that blend convenience, nutrition help category grow even as pandemic wanes

Will Kreznick

“Frozen has come a long way since tray dinners,”​ pizza rolls and pockets dominated the aisle to include more nutrient-dense options that appeal to natural and organic shoppers, Amanda Hartt, lead market analyst for NEXT Data Insights at New Hope Network, told conference attendees late last month. She explained that […]

“Frozen has come a long way since tray dinners,”​ pizza rolls and pockets dominated the aisle to include more nutrient-dense options that appeal to natural and organic shoppers, Amanda Hartt, lead market analyst for NEXT Data Insights at New Hope Network, told conference attendees late last month.

She explained that a review of natural and organic products that would have exhibited at Natural Products Expo West and East in 2020, if the pandemic hadn’t forced the events online, reveal 12% of department innovators are capitalizing on the nutrition-meets-convenience trend where brands incorporate whole foods, fruits and vegetables to offer “appropriate macronutrient amounts, vitamins, minerals and other macronutrients for time-crunched, on-the-go lifestyles.”

For example, Hannah Esper, a content producer with New Hope Network, noted “junk food favorites like buffalo wings and pizza roles are making an appearance once again with better-for-you options in the frozen case,” including Wholly Veggie Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, Snow Days Organic Pizza Bites, which are grain-free, and Cool Beans Plant-based Wraps, featuring beans in global flavors, such as Tikka Masala.

Likewise, the frozen aisle is welcoming a variety of new pasta options that replace traditional wheat with cauliflower – as in the case of Caulipower Linguine and Taste Republic Cauliflower Gnocchi – or other nutrient-dense bases, like Cappello’s Almond Four Ravioli.

These innovations are helping to drive consumer interest, with New Hope NEXT Data Insights finding 21% of natural and organic consumers reporting their intent to purchase frozen products that combine nutrition and convenience, Hartt said. She added this is well above the 18% average natural and organic consumer purchase intent score for frozen.

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