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  • Innovation and Diet Trends Drive Frozen Vegetable Growth

    Frozen vegetables in freezer

Slower price inflation, the e-commerce evolution, and convenience have created a perfect storm of extraordinary growth for frozen foods as the category continues to resonate with consumers.  In fact, according to IRI, consumers are purchasing frozen items more often, resulting in a nearly 10 percent increase in spend per buyer for the 52 weeks ending June 2021.

Some of the most popular products in the frozen category are vegetables and according to Director of Consumer Insight for UNFI Brands+, Shep Kroner, diet trends and matching restaurant offerings are two of the reasons behind the frozen department’s popularity.

“Products such as onion rings, sweet potato fries and waffle fries emulate family favorites found in restaurants, but at a lower price. Additionally, Keto diets continue to drive innovative cauliflower items such as cauliflower wings, veggie spirals and veggie noodles,” said Kroner.

Consumer demand remains high for cauliflower as it is ranked as the third most popular frozen vegetable type.  While the trend may be nearing its peak, innovation into new categories and new ways to present cauliflower are likely to grow as this trend is uniquely tied to consumer interest around Keto and Paleo Diets. 

“Riced cauliflower remains a strong alternative to traditional rice and potatoes as both of those items are highlighted as vegetables to avoid if adhering to a Keto or Paleo Diet,” said Kroner.

Of course, convenience is still king and as long as consumers are looking to save time while making a meal, certain items with still stand out as Kroner explains.

“Convenience items like frozen cut peppers, cut onion, as well as perimeter fresh prepared pre-cut vegetables, both as an ingredient or for the grill, will continue to see widespread consumer adoption especially for time constrained families and consumers on the go.”

To help meet the growing demand for frozen vegetables and support customers looking for useful products that help enhance a meal or snack, UNFI Brands+ recently launched several organic cauliflower-based items in their Woodstock label including cauliflower florets, a winter mix of broccoli and organic cauliflower florets, and a California blend with cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot.

UNFI’s Woodstock organic diced avocado remains a unique, trending ingredient packaged in convenient, resealable, stand-up bags and great for smoothies.

Woodstock is also showcasing a range of delicious organic, on-trend, veggie forward full meal solutions that are ready to enjoy in minutes including Butternut Squash Spirals with Tomato Sauce, Cauliflower Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce, Riced Veggies and Cheese, Broccoli Gnocchi with Creamy Pesto Sauce, Carrot Spirals with Ginger Sauce, and Zucchini Spirals with Pesto Sauce.

Looking into 2022, Woodstock is also looking to launch a few Tri-color Pepper items to further enhance their portfolio of ingredients for simple meal solutions.

With all these products and more in the future, is it safe to say that the eat-at-home trend will continue? Several industry groups and surveys are pointing that way. Nielsen IQ recently modified their 2021 all outlet Total Store sales forecast matching 2020 Total Sales, which suggests that elevated sales will continue for the remainder of the year. In addition, a recent survey conducted by Civic Science found that that 51% of respondents plan to eat at home more, while 39% plan about the same.