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Category Insights: Growing Frozen Store Brand Appetizer Sales

Ethnic, upscale and healthier products help differentiate the range of available frozen store brand appetizers.

February 3, 2014

According to the September 2013 “Frozen Food Market” report from Transparency Market Research, the global frozen food market is projected to reach $293.75 billion by 2019, up from $224.74 billion in 2012. Mintel noted in its May 2013 report, “Frozen Snacks—U.S.” that total U.S. retail sales of frozen snacks hit $4.5 billion in 2012, representing 13 percent growth from 2007. The Mintel report noted that the category benefits from consumer interest in snacking, convenience and a perception of affordability. In February 2013, Mintel found that 59 percent of consumers indicated that frozen snacks were an affordable snack option, while 81 percent of respondents said the products are convenient for at-home eating and 66 percent find them convenient for on-the-go snacking.

Channels other than traditional supermarkets are showing growth in frozen appetizers. Mintel notes  supercenters, warehouse clubs, natural foods stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, and non-store retailers grew frozen snack sales by 8.7 percent from 2010–12 to claim just more than half of total U.S. retail sales in the category.

Private label has likewise profited from this overall category success. “The Frozen category of private label brands has been doing very well relative to other categories,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner of Retail Systems Research and author of the PLBuyer Index. “It’s been a bright spot for private label in 2013, and looks to remain so in the coming months.” IRI notes private label frozen foods grew 1.2 percent for the 52 weeks ending December 1, 2013 compared to the same period a year ago, hitting $9.9 billion in sales (total U.S. multi-outlet—supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club & dollar retail chains) and outpacing the category overall, which only grew by 0.9 percent during that period.

The frozen appetizer category is often dominated by staples like wings, mozzarella sticks, taquitos, potato skins, mini corn dogs, bagel bites, mini eggrolls, pizza rolls and soft pretzels. But explorations into ethnic foods has driven a significant degree of new product innovation in recent years, with retailers like Whole Foods, Target, Sam’s Club and others offering options like spanakopita, samosas, wontons and potstickers.

Upscale offerings also travel an ethnically neutral road, with products like bacon-wrapped scallops or steak, petite quiche bites, phyllo cups filled with myriad ingredients, mini crab cakes and more hitting the freezer case.

 Frozen private label breaded vegetables is a bright spot in the category of late, with IRI reporting 8.76 percent growth for the 52 weeks ending December 1, 2013. Publix has ventured into this territory with its Premium Publix brand Toasted Green Beans With Ranch Sauce. Target also offers Toasted Green Beans as part of its Market Pantry line. These products align with prevailing consumer desires for healthier-leaning frozen appetizer selections.  

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Recent Articles by Douglas J. Peckenpaugh

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