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Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Snacks, 5th Edition


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Snacks

Frozen foods are convenient and healthy. The range of items one can find in the frozen food cases at supermarkets, club stores and convenience stores has come a long way from the 1950s, when “TV dinners” revolutionized the shopping and eating-at-home experience for the American consumer. Now, you can find just about any snack, side dish, entrée or dessert frozen and ready to pop in the microwave or oven.

Yet the market for these products has become somewhat frozen. Fresh foods have a healthier image in the minds of consumers. Retailers aren’t helping, as they ramp up their investment in promoting ready-to-eat or heat-and-eat meals created fresh daily in their stores and easily accessible to consumers though enhanced ordering, pick-up and delivery services. And even foodservice operators are posing a new threat, using digital media to make it easier for consumers to order and have delivered meals they traditionally would have had to “gone out to eat” to get.

The new Packaged Facts report, Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Appetizers/Snacks, examines the factors behind this new reality for frozen foods, as they affect in particular the market for frozen dinners/entrees, frozen pizza, frozen side dishes, and frozen appetizers/snacks. To battle these trends, frozen food marketers are working to provide customers with more variety and lower prices. They are also looking to offer more natural and organic products that consumers products can identify as healthy.

Despite the efforts, Packaged Facts estimates the overall sales of the products in the four categories covered were just over $22 billion in 2013, down by about 1% from 2012. Sales in 2012 were also down by one percent from 2011. Looking forward, Packaged Facts estimates that the categories under consideration will be essentially flat for 2014 but collectively enjoy a small but steady increase through 2018 at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.07% to top $23 billion that year.

Scope and Methodology

Frozen Foods in the U.S.: Hot Meals, Sides, and Appetizers/Snacks covers frozen food products sold through all types of retail outlets, including supermarkets, discount stores and supercenters, warehouse clubs, and mass merchandisers, as well as convenience stores, drugstores, health and natural food stores, dollar stores, farms and farmers markets.

Market estimates within this report were based on both public and syndicated data sources. Packaged Facts has analyzed available sales and trend data, together with information pertaining to those products that move through unmonitored outlets, to estimate the total size of the market for the products in the categories under consideration.

Sales and market size data sources include:

  • IRI sales tracking through U.S. supermarkets and grocery stores, drugstores, and mass merchandisers (including Target, Kmart, and Wal-Mart) with annual sales of $2 million or more.
  • U.S. Census Bureau retail food sales data from the Economic Census surveys, annual retail channel sales, non-employer statistics.
  • U.S. Bureau of Economic analysis annual estimates for consumer spending by food type
  • Major food and beverage retailer annual reports for individual retailer sales
  • Publicly available data from other industry sources including trade associations such as the Frozen Foods Institute and print and online publications such as Food Navigator.com.
Packaged Facts also draws on a proprietary Packaged Facts national online consumer survey conducted in July/August 2014.

Information on new product introductions was derived from examination of the retail milieu and from relevant trade, business, and government sources, including company literature and annual reports.


  • Executive Summary
    • Scope of Report
    • Methodology
    • Market Overview
      • Product Categories Covered
      • Frozen Food Development
      • Market Size
        • Table Overall Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars)
        • Table Sales by Category of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars)
      • The Challenge of Freshness
      • Frozen Organic Products Buck Trend
      • The Demand for Convenience
      • Growth of Snacking
    • Projected Market Growth
      • Table Projected Overall Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2014-2019 (millions of dollars, percent)
    • Variety, Healthier Ingredients, and Pricing Are Keys to Growth
    • The Marketers
      • Table Company Participation by Category
    • Product Trends
    • Retail and Foodservice Trends
    • Consumer Trends
      • Frozen Side Dishes Have Highest Household Use
        • Table Household Usages Rates for Selected Frozen Food Products, 2014 (percent)
  • Market Overview
    • Market Categories
    • Overall Market at $22 Billion
      • Table Overall Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars)
      • Table Sales by Category of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars)
    • Close to $21 Billion in IRI-Tracked Sales
      • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2013-2014 (millions of dollars, percent)
      • Dollar Sales, Unit, and Volume Sales Decrease
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2013-2014 (dollar sales change, unit sales change, volume change)
      • Frozen Dinner/Entrée Sales Down From 2009
        • Table Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars, percent)
      • Single-Serve Entrées Are Largest Segment
      • Slight Growth for Frozen Pizza
        • Table Sales of Frozen Pizzas, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars, percent)
      • Side Dishes See Growth
        • Table Sales of Frozen Side Dishes, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars, percent)
      • Plain Vegetables Account for Over Half of Category
      • Five-Year Growth in Frozen Appetizers/Snacks
        • Table Sales of Frozen Appetizers/Snacks, 2009-2014 (millions of dollars, percent)
    • Appetizer/Snack Rolls Dominate in Their Category
    • Market Outlook
      • Frozen Foods: A Challenged Market
      • Impact of Economy
      • The Challenge of Freshness
      • Frozen Organic Products Buck Trend
      • The Demand for Convenience
      • Retailers Push Convenience of Non-Frozen Foods
      • Growth of Snacking
      • E-Ordering and Delivery/Pick-Up Service: Implications for Frozens
    • Variety, Healthier Ingredients, and Pricing Are Keys to Growth
    • Projected Market Growth
      • Table Projected Overall Sales of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2014-2019 (millions of dollars, percent)
      • Table Projected Overall Sales by Category of Frozen Dinners/Entrées, Pizzas, Side Dishes & Appetizers/Snacks, 2014 vs. 2019 (millions of dollars, percent change)
  • The Marketers
    • Leading Marketers
      • Table Company Participation by Category
    • Nestlé Leads Multi-Serve Frozen Entrée Marketers
    • Nestlé Also Tops in Single-Serve Frozen Dinners/Entrées
    • Nestlé Leads in Hand-Held (Non-Breakfast) Frozen Entrées
    • ConAgra Dominates Frozen Pot Pie Segment
    • Independent Marketers Lead Frozen Chili
    • Nestle on Top in Frozen Pizza
    • Unilever Has Half of the Frozen Soups Market
    • Pinnacle Leads Several Competitors Frozen Sides Market
    • General Mills Tops Appetizer/Snack Roll Segment
    • J&J Snack Foods Has Frozen Pretzels in a Knot
    • Competition in Breaded Vegetables Segment
    • Heinz Dominates Frozen Dips
    • Leading Marketers
      • Nestlé Dominates Frozen Sector
        • Table Nestlé Brands by Category
      • ConAgra Has Strong Brands
        • Table ConAgra Brands by Category
      • Schwan's Strong in Pizza
        • Table Schwan Brands by Category
      • Pinnacle Follows Multiple Brand Strategy
        • Table Pinnacle Brands by Category
      • Heinz Has Major Partners
        • Table Heinz Brands by Category
      • Amy's Kitchen Well-Positioned for Growth
        • Table Amy's Kitchen Brands by Category
      • General Mills Set to Grow
        • Table General Mills Brands by Category
    • Other Key Marketers
      • On-Cor a Multi-Serve Leader
      • Gourmet Express Offers Multi-Serve Competition
      • Bellisio a Single-Serve Leader
        • Table Bellisio Brands by Category
      • Ruiz a Leader in Hand-Held
      • Tyson/Hillshire a Major Participant in Hand-Held
        • Table Tyson/Hillshire Brands by Category
      • White Castle a Long Time Top Hand-Held Brand
      • Willow Tree Makes a Mark in Pot Pies
      • Skyline the Big Name in Frozen Chili
        • Table El Encanto Brands by Category
      • Unilever Dominates Frozen Soup Segment
      • Tabatchnick a Frozen Soup Pioneer
      • J&J Snack Foods Is King of Frozen Pretzels
      • Private Label Has Minor Role
    • Media, Advertising, and Promotions
      • Marketers Challenged by New Media
      • Entering the Digital World
      • Getting Personal
      • Digital Couponing Underdeveloped Opportunity
      • Evidence of Social Media Presence of Frozen Foods
        • Table Frozen Pizza Brands: Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers
        • Table Frozen Hand-held Entrée Brands: Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers
      • Consumers Want to Companies That Do Good
  • Product Trends
    • Frozen Dinners/Entrées
      • Salad Additions: A Reversal of Hamburger Helper
      • Spicy, Hispanic Flavors Featured as Lines Expand
      • Gourmet and Exotic Frozen Dinners/Entrées
      • Pulled Pork and Barbecue
      • Slow Cooker Entrées
      • Family Size
      • Single-Serve Entrées
      • Meals for Two
      • For the Dieter
      • Healthy Alternatives
    • Frozen Chili
      • Frozen Soup
      • Frozen Hand-Held Entrées
    • Frozen Pot Pies
    • Frozen Pizza
      • DIGiorno Goes D-I-Y
    • Frozen Side Dishes
    • Frozen Appetizers/Snacks
  • Retail and Foodservice Trends
    • Retailers Present Big Challenge to Frozen Foods
      • Ready to Eat Drives C-Store Growth
      • Dollar Stores a Hope for Frozens
      • Digitizing for Even Greater Convenience
      • Private Label on the Rise in C-Stores and Dollar Stores
      • The Divided Retail Grocery Market
    • Frozen Food Trends in Foodservice
      • Dining Out Losing to Dining At Home
    • Leveraging Brand Identity to Retail
      • Foodservice and Frozens
  • Consumer Trends
    • Consumer Trends: Healthfulness, Quality, Convenience, and Cost
      • A Changing Definition of Healthiness
      • Quality and Healthfulness Related For Some
      • Taste a Constant
      • Cost Remains a Challenge
      • Opportunities in Frozen
      • Two Consumer Classes
    • Overall Consumer Trends
      • Majority of Consumers Purchase Products in Covered Categories
      • Frozen Side Dishes Have Highest Household Use
        • Table Frozen Product Use by Households, 2014
      • Majority of Consumers Sometimes or Always Have Frozen Products on Hand
        • Table Do you keep any of the following frozen products in your freezer, even if not necessarily for using soon?, 2004
      • African Americans, Students, Households With Children Favor Frozen
        • Table Index of Frozen Category Use by Demographic Segment, 2014
        • Table Index of Category Use by Number of Children in Household, 2014
    • Consumer Trends: Frozen Dinners/Entrées
      • Quality Most Important Factor in Frozen Dinner/Entrée Selection
        • Table Importance of Various Factors in Frozen Hot Meal Item Purchasing Decisions, 2014
      • Supermarkets
        • Table Where do you purchase packaged frozen (to be heated/microwaved) hot meal items?, 2014
      • Frozen Dinners/Entrées Seen as Most Affordable
      • Frozens Lag in Quality Image
      • Frozens Viewed as Having More Preservatives
      • Frozen Prepared Meals Identified as Most Convenient
    • Consumer Trends: Frozen Pizza
      • Over Half of Consumers Purchased Frozen Pizza in Past Year
      • A Third of Consumers Say Frozen Pizza Purchases Have Increased
    • Consumer Trends: Frozen Appetizers/Snacks
      • Less Than a Third of Consumers Buying More Frozen Appetizers/Snacks
    • Consumer Trends: Frozen Side Dishes
      • Table Purchasing of Frozen Products by Category, 2011 vs. 2014

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