New research from the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) has found that more than 90 percent of foodservice operators in the U.S 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 labour market disruptions.
In the second edition of the Power of Frozen in Foodservice report, researchers sought to understand operator attitudes towards and uses for frozen foods.
“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 recognising 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 percent 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 percent of operators), potato products (78 percent) and fruits (76 percent). The fastest-growing frozen products that operators purchased were appetizers (75 percent of operators indicated increased purchases since 2019), seafood (55 percent) and vegetables (53 percent).
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 labour 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.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the 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 flavours and taste, frozen innovations, and growth in products such as appetisers and ethnic meals offer new options.