ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Households headed by adults younger than 25 are 23% more likely than older adults to eat frozen dinners, according to a report by Packaged Facts, and they are 10% more likely to choose dry packaged dinners, dinner mixes and kits, according to a story in Fooddive.com.
Younger diners want easy-to-prepare foods, but they don’t want to give up healthy meals. Because of that, frozen foods with natural, organic, free-from and functional label claims have become top performers in the frozen segment.
Gen Z makes up 26% of the U.S. population, and millennials are now the largest living demographic. As a result, once overlooked frozen food is in demand. Five years ago, the fresh perimeter sales growth was five times higher than frozen, but by 2017, those positions had reversed, and the gap keeps growing, according to the American Frozen Food Institute and the Food Marketing Institute.
Last year, frozen sales saw 2.6% sales growth, compared with 1.7% for the total store and 1.4% for fresh. Now it looks like Mountain House, a company famous among hikers and campers for packable foods, believes freeze-dried meals are the next big thing.
Mountain House is bringing freeze-dried meals to the public in three flavors: Chicken Fajita Bowl, Italian Pepper Steak and Spicy Southwest Skillet. Known as Simple Sensations, the meals can be cooked in less than 10 minutes by adding boiling water. They contain fewer than 280 calories per serving and offer 10-18 grams of protein.
Freeze-dried is not new. Think of Nestlé instant coffee, freeze-dried fruit in Kellogg cereals and freeze-dried vegetable chips. A Mordor Intelligence study reports that the freeze-dried segment is expected to grow at 7.23% between 2017 and 2022 from a value of $46.9 billion in 2016.
Manufacturers, such as Chaucer Freeze Dried, Mondelez, Nissin Foods Ltd., Nestlé, Mercer Foods and Unilever, are investing in quick-freeze technology that allows for the nutritional value, flavor and aromas to remain intact through the freeze-drying process.