We learned last month that frozen food is again on the rise: according to the latest RBC Capital Markets report, the frozen food market has grown in the first 12 weeks of 2018. This marks the first time in five years the frozen category has experienced overall growth. This is excellent news for producers in the category and presents some new challenges and opportunities regarding frozen food packaging design.
Why is the frozen food market growing? While frozen convenience foods were popular with the older generation, Millennials long shied away from the category because of its unfortunate association with unhealthiness. While this may have been true in the past—those 1950s-style frozen dinners were often loaded with trans fats and several days’ worth of sodium—today’s freezing technologies are capable of locking in the nutrients of fresh whole foods, and preserving them long beyond their unfrozen shelf life. Frozen food brands are getting better and better at leveraging packaging design to convey this message of superior nutrition and overcome the old stereotypes created by the super-processed sodium bombs of the past.
Frozen food also drastically cuts down on food waste, an area in which Americans lead the world: an estimated 50% of all produce in the United States is thrown away. That’s 60 million tons—worth roughly 160 billion dollars—tossed in the garbage or compost bin every year. This can be partly attributed to the rise in smaller households: single-person households increased from 17% in 1970 to 28% in 2012. Households made up of couples without children have seen a similar increase. Household size is shrinking, but a 5lb bag of carrots is the same size it has always been—and much more likely to end up rotting in the garbage than ending up in buyers’ bellies.
Finally, the same thing motivates today’s frozen food purchasers as those before them: convenience. Whether they have children or not, people in 2018 are busier than ever—working 60+ hour weeks or juggling multiple jobs while trying to maintain their social lives, health, and sanity. Although Instagram is awash in perfectly-prepped photos of meal kit dinners, many people aren’t willing to commit to the expense of meal subscription services and are turning back to frozen appetizers, sides, main dishes, or even entire meals to get the nutrition they need, reduce waste, and save money.
How Frozen Food Packaging Design is Driving Category Growth
The new wave of frozen food buyers didn’t necessarily arrive at the conclusion that frozen food products can be healthy, convenient, and waste-reducing on their own. In recent years, premiumization efforts in the frozen space have successfully campaigned for discerning consumers’ attention on the shelf with superior frozen food packaging design. A traditional lay-down pillow pack with graphics of low or middling quality won’t win over new customers who regularly purchase fresh produce. Instead, a new generation of frozen food products—packaged strikingly in stand-up pouches with high-definition graphics—are responsible for new growth in the market.
Your frozen food package design needs to convey all the reasons why consumers are coming back to the category. Stand-up pouches are the top choice for the task, both because they have a more premium look and because they offer more available space for quality flexographic printing. Your frozen food package design can tell a story of sustainability, convenience, and health in a way that’s eye-grabbing even behind the pane of a supermarket freezer unit.
Added convenience features keep customers coming back: today’s top frozen food products offer resealable closures or can be steamed right in the package. And your brand’s message of waste reduction and sustainability can be told from first purchase to product end-of-life with recyclable or biodegradable frozen food packaging options.
Optimize Your Frozen Food Packaging Design
Savvy frozen food producers can be well positioned to grow along with the market in 2018 and beyond. At Emmerson Packaging, we have helped numerous clients adapt to the changing market landscape with superior frozen food packaging design. To read about how we helped Wyman’s of Maine transition to stand-up pouches with convenience features for their frozen fruit products, click here to read our Wyman’s of Maine case study.
Ready to take your frozen food packaging design to the next level and capture a bigger piece of the growing market? Click here to download our Frozen Food Packaging Capabilities Guide and find out how partnering with Emmerson Packaging can help you succeed in an increasingly competitive frozen food market.