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How Frozen Food Sales Escalated During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Frozen food has become one of the basic necessities after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It ensures the hygienic quality and also maintains the taste of the food. It allows consumers to spend less time on cooking and more time on other chores. Thus, it is highly preferred in various parts of the world. It not only includes snacks like chips but also incorporates a variety of cuisines for lunch and dinner. During the pandemic, various industries witnessed a significant drop in terms of revenue. However, the industry observed a significant jump all due to the changing consumer behavior.

According to the American Frozen Food Institute and FMI—the Food Industry Association’s Power of Frozen 2021, total frozen food retail sales in 2020 were $65.1 billion, which is a jump of 21% from 2019. Moreover, the unit sales increased by 13.3%, with most categories of frozen foods seeing double-digit growth.

The Contribution of Online Shopping Platforms:

Due to the wake of the pandemic, various governments were forced to impose strict lockdown, which halted the movement. Retail stores were allowed to operate for a short time. As a result, people began preferring online shopping to avoid standing in a long queue. Apart from that, the contribution of online stores and attractive discount offers significantly grabbed the audience’s attention. As a result, the industry witnessed significant growth due to the pandemic.

Frozen foods also help consumers in saving their time. Apart from that, the hotels and restaurants were all closed, which surged the demand for frozen food to get the authentic hotelier taste at home.

Furthermore, supermarkets/hypermarkets have witnessed a huge shortage of food items due to international trade restrictions. Thus, online shopping became one of the most convenient choices to get everything in hand.

Initiatives by Industry Players:

Industry players also worked their best to cater to the growing demands of the consumers. For instance, the CEO of Kraft Heinz Co. announced that the company is focusing on filling the demand-supply gap. Moreover, the company also said that frozen food is among the largest selling products.

McCain also introduced McCain Food Festival on social media in December 2020. Furthermore, the prominent industry players expanded their local production network in China in the same year. The company also donated 20 million pounds (lb) of potatoes to combat the food scarcity problems.

COVID-19 Virus Cannot Transmit Through Food:

Various studies proved that the coronavirus cannot be transmitted through food. Thus, such factors increased the demand for frozen food. Moreover, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization jointly issued the guidelines in April 2020, which clarified that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the outlook of the food industry due to the complex network system of food production. Considering this, the food industry needs to solve the hygiene and safety management problems. Furthermore, frozen food is considered a healthy option and has high nutritional quality. Thus, it has been profitable for the industry.

Urgent Need to Stock Up the Shelves:

The sudden wake of the pandemic did not only boomed the demand for masks and hand sanitizer but also surged the need to stock up the shelves. Natural food can easily contaminate in normal conditions. However, that’s not the case with frozen food. It comes with the exact expiry date to tell consumers about the correct timeline. According to a study by CNN Business, frozen food sales surged by approximately 40% during the 11 weeks that concluded on May 16. Within that period, Americans spent around US$ 15.5 billion on frozen foods. The governments imposed limited time of operations for the local grocery stores. Thus, it became necessary for people to buy products that would last. The sales of frozen pizzas increased by more than 50%.

The president of Nestlé Food Division, John Carmichael, told CNN Business in an interview that the sales of Stouffer’s, Hot Pockets, and DiGiorno surged in April. Moreover, companies began offering a new line of dishes to include lunch and dinner options.

Carmichael also said that Nestlé’s new brand of frozen dinners, Life Cuisine were introduced to offer low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free food to its consumers.

According to a research report by American Frozen Food Institute, around 86% of shoppers purchased frozen food. In addition, 7% of consumers who started buying frozen food were frequent consumers of frozen food before the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened the scope of the frozen food industry. According to a study by Astute Analytica, the global frozen food industry is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.37% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2030.

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