October 29, 2018

How packaging can help freeze out frozen produce competition

Healthy lifestyles have been shaking up products across all markets. These lifestyle changes are driving consumers to search for a variety o f wholesome, convenient and more affordable options to fill their plates. The exciting news is that frozen produce is making a comeback — consumers are finding healthy selections in these aisles and their mindsets are shifting from “fresh produce only” to “frozen produce is still fresh and healthy.” 

While consumers of all ages are rediscovering value in frozen foods, it’s millennials in particular that make up a large portion of this buying group. A 2017 survey from Acosta revealed that 43 percent of millennials, 27 percent of Gen Xers, and 19 percent of baby boomers are buying more frozen food than they were just a year ago. 

As savvy shoppers rediscover the value hidden in the coolers, they expect the packaging to perform and reflect their lifestyle requirements. The good news is that frozen produce has been packaged in flexible for years. This category understands the flexible packaging benefits, but there are even more opportunities to capitalize on. Food manufacturers that pair healthy choices with premium features, such as reclosability, will find increased customer loyalty, but more importantly, improved share of wallet. 

Convenience is still expected in frozen produce 

Consumers are comparing products side by side in the grocery store and are more likely to purchase a product with convenience features over a product that has none. Adding to this, Kantar Media shared that convenience and quality are more likely to motivate purchase over product price. This information tells us that consumers want packaging that simplifies things. If a package has reclosable features, there is no need to repackage the contents into another bag when only partially used. Specialty zippers and sliders on frozen produce packaging provide the means to help consumers ensure their package is shut. 

When you think about shopping habits overall, millennials with families are buying in bulk to shop more efficiently. Extra product requires attention to how the product will be stored at home. While consumers value multi-use packaging that can reseal, zippers that pop open and spill contents in the freezer can create frustration. 

These issues usually stem from zippers that cannot handle extreme temperatures. Look for broad-field zippers or systems that provide additional proof-points that the package is fully sealed such as audible-tactile zippers. 

Frozen produce needs to maintain its freshness 

More than ever, shoppers are becoming aware that this portion of the grocery store is yielding affordable, quick and nutritious meals. Here’s the caveat: if your product is healthy, convenient, and affordable but gets freezer burned before it’s finished, is it worth the price to consumers? 

When products are exposed to the elements, we often hear consumer complaints of freezer burn and the need to repackage multi-use products. Reclosable features help to reduce oxygen transmission that leads to frustrating waste. The Flexible Packaging Association also shares that over 60 percent of consumers believe resealable packaging is an attribute brands should deliver. If your packaging doesn’t provide reclosability, consumers turn to seal their packages with rubber bands and clips — an inconvenient option that can reflect poorly on your brand when the contents spill out or gets wasted quicker. 

Value-added solutions exist in this category to ensure packaging is fully shut. Whether it be zippers that provide an audible click when closed or sliders with an ergonomic grip for ease of use, these features provide assurance that food is protected from freezer burn. 

We’re still fighting for their attention 

Food manufacturers often hear about the importance of standing out in a sea of sameness. When it comes to frozen produce, a majority of the products are in flexible packaging, so the category needs to find innovations to stand out. Pouches allow for better facing at retail and retain great shelf presence. Consider standup pouches with colored resealable solutions that complement your brand. Pouches don’t rotate or scrunch up, allowing shoppers to see your marketing first. Plus, incorporating zippers and sliders ensures consumers aren’t repackaging product or cutting off the packaging top, which can result in lost messaging and important opportunities for consumer brand experience. 

While fresh produce is still a stiff competitor, frozen produce is making a comeback. Food manufacturers can freeze out the competition in this category by showing innovation and providing time-saving, value-added solutions that fit fast-paced lifestyles. 

— Dave Cook , regional sales manager at Fresh-Lock by Presto Products