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Frozen Foods in the U.S., 4th Edition


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Sales in the $44 billion U.S. retail market for frozen foods have been flat to declining, with nearly all dollar sales gains attributable to inflation or new products—not to increased consumer demand. Contributing to this stagnation are the nation’s slow economic recovery; changing consumer eating patterns, shopping patterns and demographics; lack of excitement in frozen foods categories and merchandising; retailers’ increased focus on the fresh foods perimeter to the detriment of center store categories; and competition from fresh foods (including prepared fresh foods), shelf-stable foods, and restaurants. This situation presents huge challenges and opportunities for marketers and retailers. Already, major marketers such as ConAgra, Heinz, and Unilever are slimming down and refocusing their brand portfolios. The crucial question is whether—and how—marketers and retailers can reinvent and re-emphasize frozen foods to re-attract consumers to these core center-store categories.

Frozen Foods in the U.S., 4th Edition, a fully updated Packaged Facts report, examines frozen foods across four classifications: Center Plate (frozen dinners/entrees, frozen hand-held non-breakfast entrees; frozen poultry, seafood and meat; frozen pizza; frozen pot pies; and frozen baby food); Vegetables, Appetizers/Snacks, and Sides (plain and prepared frozen vegetables; products positioned as appetizers/snacks or frozen side dishes; and other meal components such as frozen bread/dough, frozen pasta, frozen tortillas, and frozen sauces, gravies and seasonings); Breakfast Foods (waffles/pancakes/French toast; frozen breakfast hand-held entrees; frozen breakfast entrees; and other frozen breakfast foods such as bagels, muffins, and frozen egg substitutes); and Frozen Desserts (including frozen whipped toppings, frozen sweet baked goods, and frozen cheesecakes; frozen pies; frozen fruit; and frozen cookie dough and cookies—ice cream and frozen desserts are excluded). Building on the market tracking and forecasting of previous editions, the report forecasts market size and growth; examines the factors influencing this market; highlights key marketing tactics and new product introductions; and analyzes the demographic and lifestyle shifts representing calls to action to meet the needs of today’s shoppers.

Report Methodology

Key data sources include SymphonyIRI Group’s InfoScan Reviews quantifying retail mass-market sales at the marketer/brand share level, Experian Simmons national consumer surveys gauging purchasing patterns, a proprietary Packaged Facts online consumer survey conducted in August 2012, data from SPINS, Inc.’s SPINSscan service tracking sales in the natural supermarket channel, and information was gathered from government, business, and trade media. The report contains dozens of numerical tables and graphs, as well as numerous photographs of new products.


  • Executive Summary
    • Introduction
      • Market Definition: Frozen Foods
      • Report Methodology
    • Market Trends
      • Sales to Near $49 Billion by 2017
        • Table Projected U.S. Retail Sales of Frozen Foods, 2012-2017 (in millions of dollars)
      • SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales Approach $26.2 Billion in 2012
      • Center Plate Classification Two-Thirds of Frozen Food Sales
        • Table Share of SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales of Frozen Foods by Classification, 2012 vs. 2011 (percent)
      • Frozen Dinners/Entrees the Largest Category at $6.1 Billion
      • Frozen Baby Food Category Tops Percentage Growth
      • Supermarket/Grocery Store Share Slips to 53%
    • Marketer Overview
      • Multinational Conglomerates Dominate
      • Recent Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Marketing and New Product Trends
      • Overview
      • Healthy Eating in the Frozen Aisle
      • Reformulating Products for Health
      • Freshness in Frozen
      • Addressing Allergy Concerns
      • Improving Microwave Technologies
      • Steaming Hot
      • Licensed Restaurant Names
      • Private-Label Penetration Varies Widely by Category
      • Kroger Launches Simple Truth
    • Consumer Trends
      • Frozen Vegetables the Top Category in Packaged Facts Survey
      • Taste Appeal, Price, Quality the Main Considerations in Choosing Frozen Foods
      • Preference for Fresh the Chief Reason for Not Buying Frozen
        • Table Reasons for Not Buying Frozen Foods in Last 3 Months, August 2012 (U.S. adults who shop for groceries)
      • Frozen Vegetables and Pizza the Most Popular Categories, Per Experian Simmons Survey
      • Household Use by Product Type by Age Group
      • Household Use by Product Type by Ethnic Group
      • Regional Preferences for Different Frozen Products
      • Frozen Food Use Generally Declines with Higher Education and Upper Income Bracket
      • Frozen Foods Hold Strong Appeal to Families with Children
  • Market Trends
    • Introduction
      • Market Definition: Frozen Foods
    • Market Size and Composition
      • Retail Sales Reach $44.0 Billion in 2012
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Frozen Foods, 2008-2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales Approach $26.2 Billion in 2012
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Retail Sales of Frozen Foods by Dollar and Volume Growth, 2011-2012 (in millions of dollars and pound volume)
      • Center Plate Classification Two-Thirds of Frozen Food Sales
        • Table Share of SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales of Frozen Foods by Classification, 2012 vs. 2011 (percent)
      • Frozen Dinners/Entrees the Largest Category at $6.1 Billion
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Retail Sales of Frozen Foods by Classification and Category, 2011-2012 (in millions of dollars and pound volume)
      • Frozen Baby Food Category Tops Percentage Growth
        • Table Top 20 Frozen Food Categories by Percentage Growth in SymphonyIRI-Tracked Retail Dollar Sales, 2011-2012 (in millions of dollars and pound volume)
      • Raw Poultry the Largest Category in Dollar Sales Gains
        • Table Top 20 Frozen Food Categories by Dollar Growth in SymphonyIRI-Tracked Retail Dollar Sales, 2011-2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Supermarket/Grocery Store Share Slips to 53%
      • Convenience Store Sales
    • Market Outlook
      • A Mature Market
      • The Economy and Its Impact on Frozen Foods
      • Food Shoppers Focus on Value
      • Eat-At-Home Trend a Double-Edged Sword for Frozen Foods
      • Challenges for Share of Stomach
      • Eating Patterns Changing
      • Shopping Patterns Changing
      • Challenging Negative Perceptions
      • Frozen Food Aisles Are Too Cold
      • New H.J. Heinz Study Measures Shopper Behavior in Stores
      • Demographics Help Explain Frozen Food Trends
      • U.S. Population Growing Older and More Diverse
        • Table Demographic Snapshot of the U.S. Population
      • Overall U.S. Population Is Aging
      • Hispanic Population is Growing Fastest
      • Changing Household and Family Composition
        • Table U.S. Households by Type: 1990, 2000, and 2010 (percent)
      • Hispanic Marketing Opportunities
      • African-American Marketing Opportunities
        • Table Frozen Foods Categories with High Indexes Among African-American Consumers, 2012 (U.S. adults)
      • Asian-American Marketing Opportunities
      • Eating Healthy
      • Portion Control and Convenience Are Benefits
      • Retail Deals
    • Projected Market Growth
      • Sales to Near $49 Billion by 2017
        • Table Projected U.S. Retail Sales of Frozen Foods, 2012-2017 (in millions of dollars)
  • Competitive Trends
    • Multinational Conglomerates Dominate
    • Recent Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Trend Overview by Classification
    • Trends in Center Plate
      • "Full Meal" Options Lose Ground to Poultry, Seafood
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales and Share of Frozen Center Plate Classification by Category, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Single-Serve Dinners/Entrees the Largest Subcategory
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrees by Subcategory, 2011-2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Nestlé Leads in Single-Serve Dinners/Entrees
      • Nestlé Also Dominates Frozen Hand-held Entrees
      • Nestlé Also on Top in Frozen Multi-Serve Dinners/Entrees
      • Raw Poultry 55% of Poultry Market
      • Chicken Accounts for Two-Thirds of Frozen/Refrigerated Raw Poultry
      • Private Label the Biggest Frozen/Refrigerated Raw Poultry Competitor
      • Chicken 97% of Frozen/Refrigerated Processed Poultry Category
      • Tyson Leads Frozen/Refrigerated Processed Poultry Category
      • Frozen Pizza and Pizza Crusts/Dough
      • Nestlé Leads Frozen Pizza with 46% Share
      • Fish/Seafood, Cooked Shrimp, and Raw Shrimp
      • Private Label 44% of Frozen Seafood Category
      • Meat 60% of the Frozen Meat Category
      • Frozen Meat Category Highly Fragmented
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Single-Serve Dinners/Entrees by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Hand-held (Non-Breakfast) Entrees by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Multi-Serve Dinners/Entrees by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen/Refrigerated (Raw) Poultry by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen/Refrigerated Processed Poultry by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Pizza by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Seafood by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Meat by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
    • Trends in Vegetables, Appetizers/Snacks, & Sides
      • A Varied Classification
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales and Share of Frozen Vegetables, Appetizers/Snacks, and Sides Classification by Category, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Plain Vegetables Dominate Frozen Vegetables Sales
      • Private Label 41% of Frozen Vegetable Sales
      • Frozen Potatoes 96% of Frozen Potatoes and Onion Rings Category
      • Heinz and Private Label Capture 80% of Frozen Potatoes and Onion Rings Category
      • General Mills and Heinz Lead Frozen Appetizers/Snacks
      • Baked Goods Dominate Frozen Bread/Dough Category
      • T. Marzetti Leads Fragmented Frozen Bread/Dough Category
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Vegetables by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Potatoes and Onion Rings by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Appetizers/Snacks by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Bread and Dough by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
    • Trends in Breakfast Foods
      • Frozen Breakfast Classification Gains 4%
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales and Share of Breakfast Foods by Category, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Kellogg's Eggo Dominates Waffles Category
      • Hillshire Brands' Jimmy Dean Dominates Frozen Hand-held Breakfasts Category
      • Hillshire Brands Leads Frozen Breakfast Entrees
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Waffles by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Hand-held Breakfasts by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Breakfast Entrees by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
    • Trends in Desserts
      • Frozen Dessert Classification Includes Frozen Desserts/Toppings, Frozen Pies, and Frozen Fruit
        • Table SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales and Share of Frozen Desserts by Category, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Frozen Pies by Subcategory
      • ConAgra Grabs a Larger Slice of the Pie
      • Private Label Captures Three Out of Four Frozen Fruit Dollars
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Pies by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Top Marketers and Brands of Frozen Fruit by SymphonyIRI-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011 vs. 2012 (in millions of dollars)
    • Natural/Organic Market
      • Segment Overview
      • Lunch/Dinner Entrees Largest Frozen Classification in Natural Channel
        • Table Frozen Food Categories by SPINS-Tracked Sales and Market Share, 2011-2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Deli Meats and Fruits the Largest SPINS-Tracked Subcategories
        • Table Top 10 Frozen Food Subcategories by SPINS-Tracked Dollar Sales, 2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Frozen Pancakes Subcategory Sees Largest Gains
        • Table Top 10 Frozen Food Subcategories by Percentage Growth in SPINS-Tracked Dollar Sales, 2012 (in millions of dollars)
  • Marketing and New Product Trends
    • Marketing Trends
      • Overview
      • Healthy Eating in the Frozen Aisle
      • Reformulating Products for Health
      • Freshness in Frozen
      • Addressing Allergy Concerns
      • Improving Microwave Technologies
      • Steaming Hot
      • Licensed Restaurant Names
      • Private-Label Penetration Varies Widely by Category
        • Table Private-Label Share of SymphonyIRI-Tracked Dollar Sales of Selected Frozen Foods Categories, 2012 (in millions of dollars)
      • Kroger Launches Simple Truth
    • Marketing Trends: Center Plate
      • Fighting a Decline in Frozen Dinners/Entrees
      • Trends in Single-Serve Frozen Meals
      • Nestlé USA Launches Stouffer's Farmer's Harvest Entrees
      • McCormick & Co Extends Zatarain's Frozen Foods Line
      • Tyson Foods Introduces Tyson's Mini Bread Bowls
      • Heinz Drops Boston Market and T.G.I. Friday's Frozen Entrees
      • Healthy Launches
      • H.J. Heinz: What's New at Weight Watchers Smart Ones
      • Cedarlane Goes Lean
      • Kellogg's Kashi Extends Entrees Line
      • ConAgra's Lightlife Foods Enters Frozen Foods
      • Multi-Serve Frozen Dinners/Entrees
      • McCormick's Zatarain's Debuts Meals for Two
      • Nestlé Extends Buitoni Meals for Two
      • Unilever Launches Bertolli Premium Meal Soups for Two
      • Pinnacle: Birds Eye Voila! Family-Sized Bagged Meals
      • On-Cor: An Old Hand at Family-Size Frozen Meals
      • Michael Angelo's Adds Meal Starters
      • Private Label Vastly Underrepresented in Dinners/Entrees
      • Ethnic Flavors
      • Mexican and Hispanic Entrees
      • Asian Foods-Chinese and Beyond
      • Halal Certification
      • News in Hand-Held Entrees
      • Pizza Marketers Fight Back at Chains
      • Nestlé USA: DiGiorno, Tombstone, and California Pizza Kitchen
      • Schwan Consumer Brands: Freschetta and Red Baron
      • Premium "Boutique" Pizza Brands
      • Better-For-You Frozen Pizzas
      • Poultry, Seafood, and Meat Trends
      • Poultry
      • Seafood
      • Meat and Meat Alternatives
    • Marketing Trends: Frozen Vegetables, Appetizers/Snacks, and Sides
      • Adding Excitement to Frozen Vegetables
      • General Mills Debuts Green Giant Seasoned Steamers
      • Birds Eye Introduces Homemade Inspirations Meal Starter Kits…
      • and Rolls Out Saucy Steamfresh Chef's Favorites
      • Crunchtables Are a Fun New Way to Eat Vegetables
      • New Potatoes
      • Appetizers/Snacks
      • Asian and Mexican Appetizers/Snacks
      • Breads Are on a Roll
    • Marketing Trends: Breakfast Foods
      • Waffles Are Hot
      • Kellogg's Eggo: 24 Varieties and Counting
      • Van's, the Natural Leader
      • Homemade-Style or Restaurant-Style?
      • IHOP: Restaurant-Style at Home
      • Protein Is Key in Frozen Breakfast Entrees
      • Convenient Breakfast on the Go
      • Snack-Size Breakfast Products
    • Trends in Desserts
      • Single Servings
      • Pies, Cakes, and Cheesecakes
  • Consumer Trends
    • Methodology
    • Frozen Vegetables the Top Category in Packaged Facts Survey
    • Taste Appeal, Price, Quality the Main Considerations in Choosing Frozen Foods
    • Preference for Fresh the Chief Reason for Not Buying Frozen
      • Table Frozen Foods Categories Purchased in Last 3 Months, August 2012 (U.S. adults who shop for groceries)
      • Table Main Considerations for Choosing Frozen Foods Purchased in Last 3 Months, August 2012 (U.S. adults who shop for groceries)
      • Table Main Considerations for Choosing Frozen Foods Purchased in the 3 Months, August 2012 (U.S. adults who shop for groceries)
      • Table Reasons for Not Buying Frozen Foods in Last 3 Months, August 2012 (U.S. adults who shop for groceries)
    • Frozen Vegetables and Pizza the Most Popular Categories, Per Experian Simmons Survey
    • Household Use by Product Type by Age Group
    • Household Use by Product Type by Ethnic Group
    • Regional Preferences for Different Frozen Products
    • Frozen Food Use Generally Declines with Higher Education…
    • and with Higher Income Bracket
    • Frozen Foods Hold Strong Appeal to Families with Children
      • Table Trended Usage Rates for Selected Frozen Food Categories: 2008, 2010, and 2012 (percent of U.S. households)
      • Table Household Use of Frozen Foods: By Product Category by Age Group, 2012 (index)
      • Table Household Use of Frozen Foods: By Product Category by Ethnic Group, 2012 (index)
      • Table Household Use of Frozen Foods: By Product Category by Region, 2012 (index)
      • Table Household Use of Frozen Foods: By Product Category by Education, 2012 (index)
      • Table Household Use of Frozen Foods: By Product Category by Annual Household Income, 2012 (index)
      • Table Household Use of Frozen Foods: By Product Category by Presence of Children, 2012 (index)
    • Consumer Trends: Frozen Food Brands
      • Ore-Ida and Eggo the Most Popular Frozen Food Brands
        • Table Top 10 Frozen Foods Products by Usage Rates, 2012 (percent of U.S. households)
      • Brand Usage Rates: Center Plate
      • Banquet the Most Popular Frozen Complete (TV) Dinner Brand
      • DiGiorno the Most Popular Pizza Brand
      • Tyson the Favorite Brand of Fried Chicken
      • Gorton's by Far the Most Popular Frozen Prepared Seafood
      • Demographics of Users Vary by Product Category
      • Demographic Trends for Selected Frozen Center Plate Brands
      • Demographics of Frozen Dinner Purchasers by Brand
      • Pizza Is a Youth- and Family-Oriented Product
      • Demographics of Frozen Fried Chicken Purchasers by Brand
      • Demographics of Frozen Seafood Purchasers by Brand
      • Brand Usage Rates: Frozen Vegetables, Potatoes, and Hot Snacks
      • Ore-Ida by Far the Most Popular Frozen Potatoes Brand
      • Hot Pockets the Favorite Hot Snacks
      • Demographic Trends for Selected Frozen Vegetables, Potatoes, and Hot Snacks
      • Kids, Large Households Prime Indicators for Frozen Potatoes
      • Purchasers of Hot Pockets vs. Lean Pockets
      • Households with Kids a Key Market for Frozen Appetizers/Snacks
      • Brand Usage Rates: Frozen Breakfast
      • Demographic Trends for Selected Frozen Breakfast Brands
      • Frozen Breakfast Entrees/Sandwiches Purchasers
      • Brand Usage Rates: Frozen Desserts
      • Demographic Trends for Selected Frozen Dessert Brands
        • Table Frozen Center Plate Brands Used Most Often by Percentage of U.S. Households, 2012 (percent of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Main Course Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Complete (TV) Dinner Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Pizza Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Fried Chicken Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Prepared Seafood Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Frozen Vegetables, Potatoes, and Hot Snacks Brands Used Most Often by Percentage of U.S. Households, 2012 (percent of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Vegetables Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Potato Products Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Hot Snacks Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Frozen Breakfast Brands Used Most Often by Percentage of U.S. Households, 2012 (percent of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Waffles/Pancakes/French Toast Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Breakfast Entrees/Sandwiches Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)
        • Table Frozen Dessert Brands Used Most Often by Percentage of U.S. Households, 2012 (percent of U.S. households)
        • Table Top 10 Demographic Indicators for Selected Frozen Cakes/Pies/Pastries Brands, 2012 (index of U.S. households)

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