ARLINGTON, Va.- New research finds that more than 90% of foodservice operators use frozen foods in their menus, with the healthcare, convenience store and fast casual categories reporting the greatest increase in use since 2019. Operators report that frozen foods offer solutions to many of the operational challenges they face in light of the ongoing supply chain and labor market disruptions.
Commissioned by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and conducted by Technomic Inc., the second edition of the Power of Frozen in Foodservice research sought to understand operator attitudes and uses of frozen foods. Technomic issued qualitative and quantitative surveys among more than 350 operators from across 10 segments.
“Operators face unique and pressing challenges in today’s new foodservice environment and frozen foods are a beneficial resource to address these needs,” said Alison Bodor, AFFI President and CEO. “From ease of preparation to year-round availability to reduced food waste, foodservice operators are recognizing the performance advantage of frozen foods.”
Forty percent of foodservice operators surveyed reported purchasing more frozen foods than they did in 2019, and more than 50% indicated they are using as much as before. Overall frozen food use in foodservice is high and a large majority of operators report purchasing frozen vegetables (83% of operators), potato products (78%) and fruits (76%). The fastest-growing frozen products that operators purchased were appetizers (75% of operators indicated increased purchases since 2019), seafood (55%) and vegetables (53%).
The Power of Frozen in Foodservice also revealed that frozen foods are impactful in managing market challenges facing foodservice operators. Survey respondents reported operational efficiencies, supply chain and product availability, and labor as among the top issues for their businesses. At the same time, operators identified year-round availability, longer shelf life, product consistency and ease of preparation as some of the key benefits of frozen foods. Eighty-four percent of operators agreed that frozen foods also produce less waste, which can support sustainability and cost-savings.
“Costs and labor continue to be the largest challenges for foodservice operators, and our research found that frozen foods are recognized as valuable solutions,” said Joe Pawlak, managing principal with Technomic. “The high penetration of usage and recorded satisfaction indicate that frozen foods play a vital role in foodservice.”
Research also found that consumers consider it highly acceptable to use frozen ingredients, creating a win-win for both the operator and their customer. As operators work to meet future demands such as authentic flavors and taste, frozen innovations and growth in products such as appetizers and ethnic meals offer new options.
“Frozen foods help to meet the immediate demands of foodservice operators and should be part of future success strategies,” added Bodor. “The continuous innovation in frozen creates even more opportunities for meal solutions that customers will enjoy.”