The Rise of the Frozen Food Market Following the COVID-19 Pandemicbianca
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a powerful and lasting impact on the food industry, shifting previously established patterns and leaving way for new ones to emerge. The early days of the pandemic were particularly damaging for the food production and distribution sectors.
As more and more countries were forced into lockdown, manpower declined drastically and soon enough, that lead to low stocks on many food items. Since then, conditions have improved, and the production and distribution flow of foodstuff all over the world is now close to pre-2020 levels.
But that doesn’t mean that the pandemic has not left its marks on the food industry or on people’s purchasing and eating patterns. One food industry sector that has seen a significant growth since 2020 is the frozen food sector.
In a major market research report published in early 2022, Fortune Business Insights has tracked the rise of the frozen food market since the start of the pandemic and issued a forecast for the coming years. According to this report, the global frozen food market is expected to maintain its growth trajectory and almost double in size by the year 2028.
The first major economic boom for the frozen food industry occurred in the early days of the pandemic, when customers began panic buying all sorts of foodstuff and consumables before lockdowns were officially enforced.
Naturally, most people opted for items that had longer shelf lives, given that nobody knew with certainty how long they would be stuck at home, unable to stock up on essentials. Frozen food fulfilled this need perfectly, so it was the top choice.
What are the main factors fueling the growth of the frozen food industry?
The rise of the frozen food industry in recent years is a result of several factors, some of which are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other factors include the increased employment rate of women and the surge in online ordering. Here are the main reasons why the frozen food industry has seen substantial growth in the last few years:
A major driving factor for the rise of the frozen food market since 2020 is convenience. Frozen food was a convenient option for many consumers even before, but as the pandemic pushed the world into chaos, their buying and eating patterns shifted drastically. Many people were forced to work from home, overturning work-life balance as they knew it.
Even those who continued to head to work had less time and energy on their hands to bother with cooking elaborate meals as they did before. This resulted in a high demand for convenience food products that required minimal preparation and could be stored safely for longer periods of time. Frozen ready-to-eat meals and cold cuts were therefore a great solution for those with hectic lifestyles.
- High demand from the food service industry
Given that the food production sector was also severely affected by pandemic lockdowns, wholesale suppliers had limited access to fresh food items such as produce and meats to distribute to foodservice businesses. That being the case, they had to turn to frozen alternatives. This resulted in increased pressure on the frozen food industry, leading to a high demand for such items.
- Online ordering
Another driving factor for the growth of the frozen food market is the surge of internet and smartphone usage and the emergence of online ordering as a convenient way to purchase food products anytime, anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major catalyst for the rise of online ordering, given that in-person shopping was temporarily impossible due to travel restrictions.
Even after lockdowns were lifted, people continued to turn to e-commerce websites and apps for easy access to a large variety of food products, including frozen food items. Since this trend is not likely to subside anytime soon, it is expected that online ordering will continue to fuel the growth of the frozen food industry for many years to come.
- Women’s employment
The rate of women’s employment has been growing significantly in recent years. With more and more women heading to the workplace and spending less time at home, a solution had to be found to make up for the lack of fresh meals cooked at home. Frozen ready-to-eat meals have become a convenient option that fits this type of situation.
What challenges does the frozen food industry face?
The growing preference for fresh foods has been a challenging factor that hinders the rise of the frozen food industry. This is largely based on long-established myths that frozen alternatives are inferior to fresh foodstuff, due to lesser nutritional content.
According to the report published by Fortune Business Insights, both the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and IFIC (International Food Information Council) agree that frozen food items are just as good as their fresh counterparts.
What are the most popular frozen food segments in 2022?
The frozen food market covers a whole range of food types, including frozen seafood and meat products, ready meals, frozen bakery items and snacks, among others. However, in recent years, some segments have been enjoying more popularity than others.
The top choices for frozen food are meat products and seafood, for their convenience and large variety of applications. Ready-to-eat meals are also an extremely accessible option, as we have mentioned before.
Following that, frozen produce has also attracted more attention in recent years. Wholesale suppliers such as Riviera Produce generally offer frozen foods along with their regular fresh produce selection to increase variety and make up for production gaps. Frozen fruits and vegetables make for viable off-season alternatives when their fresh counterparts are not available.
Frozen food items that cater to the fast-food industry are also increasingly popular. Products such as frozen burgers, pizzas and French fries are in high demand, particularly in developing countries. Finally, frozen baked products are becoming more popular and are expected to drive the frozen food market growth at an increasing rate.
As we slowly but steadily enter a post-pandemic world, the fate of the frozen food industry may be subject to change. However, many factors that fueled its growth in recent years will continue to exist, so the expectation is that the market for frozen food will keep surging and reaching new heights in the years to come.