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    Consumers Ease Mealtime Budget Crunch with Frozen Foods

    In a world of compromise, frozen foods are emerging as the preferred medium between the extremes of frequently dining at restaurants and cooking time-consuming meals at home.

    In a world of compromise, frozen foods are emerging as the preferred medium between the extremes of frequently dining at restaurants and cooking time-consuming meals at home. Estimates reveal that U.S. retail sales of frozen foods and beverages through all retail channels totaled almost $52 billion in 2008, according to “Frozen Foods in the U.S., 2nd Edition,” a new report from market research publisher Packaged Facts. The figure reflects a 6.5 percent gain over the roughly $49 billion achieved in 2007.

    Whether eaten at home with family or “brown-bagged” to work for lunch, frozen foods offer a convenience that appeals to American consumers with little money and time to spare. Innovative convenience -- such as a new cooking method that preserves taste, texture and nutrition -- ranks high in consumer draws. And though health-and-wellness attributes are also key to success, indulgence is still in the mix, as evidenced by popular products that either boast premium ingredients or offer decadent taste experiences in lighter dish formats. Ultimately, sheer convenience is still king among the attributes consumers crave the most.

    “It’s no coincidence that some of the fastest-growing products in the frozen foods market benefit from having a convenience edge such as portability, being ready-to-eat or offering no-mess consumption and easy cleanup. Packaging formats cashing in on this angle include single-serve pouches, portionable packs and ‘servings for two,’” says Tatjana Meerman, publisher of New York-based Packaged Facts.

    Such convenience- and health-targeted introductions are expected to carry the market even after the recession is over. Packaged Facts projects that retail sales of frozen foods and beverages through all retail channels will reach almost $65 billion in 2013, an increase of more than 25 percent, or $13 billion, over 2008 revenues.

    “Frozen Foods in the U.S., 2nd Edition” examines the U.S. market for frozen foods and beverages sold to consumers throughout the entire retail spectrum, focusing primarily on savory meal-type items and meal components. The report provides extensive retail sales breakouts, along with a thorough examination of market drivers, the competitive situation, marketer and brand shares, marketing trends, and consumer trends. The report also covers topics such as organic and “green” appeals, competition from fresh meal solutions, shifts in the retail landscape and global new product trends.

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