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Consumers don’t like wasting food. Frozen foods are helping them reduce food waste, a recent report contends.

Rachel French

August 10, 2023

3 Min Read
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Consumers don’t like wasting food. A recent report by American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) found a whopping 88% of Americans find food waste “irritating.” A similar number (87%) said food waste is concerning.

Frozen food is one way consumers are combating food waste, the AFFI report found.

Frozen foods saw a spike in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previous data from AFFI showed frozen food sales increased 22% in 2020 to reach $65.8 billion, compared to a 2% increase in sales totaling $54 billion in 2019. In 2022, unit sales remained 5% above pre-pandemic levels.

Per AFFI’s recent survey of 1,548 Americans, 97% said they purchase frozen food at least once a year. Of these, more than one-third (39%) said they consume frozen food daily or multiple times per week. Another third (32%) said they consume frozen food weekly.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a backseat for many consumers, skyrocketing grocery prices continue to affect shopping behaviors, especially at the grocery store.

In fact, cost is the No. 1 reason consumers are frustrated with food waste, per AFFI’s report. The majority of respondents (84%) said they’re concerned about the economic impact of food waste. Similarly, about three-fourths (77%) said wasting food is not something they can financially afford to do.

Add to that the short shelf life of fresh produce, which 77% of the survey’s respondents cited as a “significant reason” why their households waste food, and it’s no surprise consumers are turning to frozen foods as means to reduce waste and save money.

AFFI data showed 83% of consumers said buying frozen food was a good solution for limiting their household’s food waste, and 84% said buying frozen food is a good way to save money.

Just shy of cost concerns are environmental concerns; more than three-quarters (81%) said they’re worried about the environmental impact of wasting food.

Not surprisingly, Gen Zers and Millennials were notably more concerned about the environmental impact of food waste than Gen Xers and Boomers. Nearly half (45%) of Gen Zers and 42% of Millennials said they worry about the impact of food waste on the environment, compared to 33% of Gen Xers and 35% of Boomers.

While frozen foods last longer than fresh produce, the report found there are other reasons frozen foods may be helping consumers waste less.

The majority of consumers (79%) said the ability to only use/take out however much they need of a frozen food item—including fruits, vegetables, seafood and meat—motivates them to buy frozen foods.

Frozen food users, too, appreciate the flexibility of being able to change their meal plans without the risk of food spoilage; approximately 89% said having frozen meal ingredients on hand helps them avoid wasting food when their meal preparation plans go awry.

A slightly higher number (91%) appreciate having more flexibility to prepare what they’re in the mood for.

Frozen vegetables and frozen meat/poultry are the frozen products consumers reach for most often, with 93% and 92%, respectively, reporting they buy these products occasionally or frequently. Frozen fruit and frozen pizza/flatbreads (91%) closely follow.

Other popular frozen categories include potatoes and onions, purchased occasionally or frequently by 89% of consumers, frozen entrees (87%) and frozen seafood (82%).

Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing editor

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

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