During the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) AFFI-CON 2022, nearly 500 companies and more than 1,100 attendees gathered in Dallas, Texas to meet one-on-one and discuss current and future business opportunities. The data is clear – frozen food has been a pandemic powerhouse and growth already outpaced total food and beverages in the three years preceding the pandemic.
2021 data indicate strong results in light of the supply chain challenges. As Lyons Wyatt put it, “we cannot sell what we do not have.” In-stock rates progressively worsened as 2021 went on. February 2021 was the high-water mark, with an in-stock position of 91.4%. November was the category’s lowest in-stock position, at 85.8%. “This means the resulting assortment has to work harder to achieve the same sales levels. With levels such as these, it is important to optimize product allocation, leverage the information to assess competitive risk and understand the potential loss of core buyers,” Lyons Wyatt explained.
Inflation was one of the biggest stories affecting food retailing in 2021 and frozen food was no exception, though the experience was different than for other categories in the food and beverage sector. Frozen food had a 3.6% increase in the price per unit, which was far below the average across all foods and beverages, at more than 6.0%. This inflationary difference means that dollar sales for frozen did not experience the same sales bump as some of the other departments across the store, where inflation may have reached the high single-digit or even double-digit territory.
Mixed fruit items stood out as sales winners, a trend that is expected to continue in 2022. Frozen fruit also found pockets of growth in a number of sustainability-related claims, with above-average growth for recyclable and water conservation.
“Fruit has a distinct opportunity for continued growth,” said Lyons Wyatt. “Make the section easier to shop, with a good assortment and innovation in packaging and size. Entry price points and smaller bag options can be ideal to engage with smaller households and those with less freezer capacity.”
Click here to learn more about the outlooks on the frozen food industry for the future!