There are a few key factors behind the rise in frozen and canned food sales:
- Comfort Foods. 58% of respondents in the new Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey noted that they are buying more comfort foods because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Stocking Up. This is trend is largely done – as seen in the big decline in April grocery sales compared to those in March – but replenishing will continue as long as we’re eating primarily at home.
- Easy Meal Prep. If, like me, you’re prepping family meals three times per day, you’re looking for quick options.
- Feeding Picky Kids. Parents are not interested in battling food choice right now, so they are offering more foods that they are confident their children will eat.
However, despite the general negative perception of frozen and canned foods as full of preservatives, salts, and other unhealthy ingredients, there are canned and frozen items that do not count as processed foods or that are minimally processed. Such products as frozen vegetables, frozen chicken breasts, canned beans, canned vegetables, canned fruit without syrup all do not automatically count as unhealthy eating simply because of their formats. They do provide short-cuts, but they aren’t necessarily unhealthy. These versions will just last longer than their fresh cousins. Canned versions are also shelf-stable, saving precious refrigerator space for other food items.
Fighting against the perception of canned and frozen foods as highly processed food is a distinction that packaged food companies will want to make when possible. Only 36% of respondents in The Freedonia Group proprietary survey noted that they were buying more processed food because of the coronavirus, and only 29% reported that they were reducing their purchases of fresh produce.
For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s coverage of the packaging industry and analysis of the food and beverage industry from our sister publisher, Packaged Facts.