Retail value sales within the US frozen food market remained flat at US$34 billion through 2012, while retail volume sales declined by 2%.
Citing such factors as the nation's slow economic recovery, changing consumer eating patterns, a lack of excitement in frozen foods categories and competition from fresh foods, the latest figures revealed the market has only realised gains attributable to inflation or new products.
With the US economy in slow recovery mode, frozen processed food makers are seeking ways to retain consumer interest in this category. Affluent Americans have fared better than other economic groups and have resumed dining out in restaurants. During the recession, more Americans prepared meals at home instead of eating out. This switch in consumption benefited sales of frozen food, as consumers sought convenient ready meals and other foods which could be stored for a long period of time.
However, as higher income consumers feel more confident about the economy, many will choose to dine out again for convenience, socialising and flavour variety. To compete against restaurants, manufacturers are introducing restaurant-inspired foods and foods with a healthier, nutritional profile.
In 2012, Nestlé was the leader in frozen processed food in the US, with a 16% value share, representing sales of US$5.3 billion. The company is number one in frozen ready meals through its Stouffer's and Stouffer's Lean Cuisine brands in GBO terms.
Through its Hot Pockets frozen sandwiches brand, Nestlé is the top player in other frozen processed food. The company became the leader in frozen pizza in 2010 through its acquisition of Kraft Foods' frozen pizza division, which included brands such as DiGiorno, Tombstone and California Pizza Kitchen.
ConAgra Foods Inc is the second largest frozen processed food player, with a 9% value share in 2012, representing sales of US$3.0 billion. The company is the second ranked player in frozen ready meals in GBO terms with its Healthy Choice, Banquet and Marie Callender's brands.
Retail volume sales of frozen foods are projected to increase by 2% over 2012 to 2017, to reach 4 million tonnes. Retail constant value sales of frozen foods are projected to increase by 6%, reaching US$36.1 billion at constant 2012 prices in 2017.
While growth will be marginal during the next five years, producers will stress convenience and nutrition to attract more customers.
For more information on the US frozen food market, see the latest research: US Frozen Food Market
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