Numerous reports predict big growth for the frozen-food market. And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that what’s good for frozen-food manufacturers is also a boon for packaging manufacturers. But what’s spurring the market growth? And how can a little sangfroid on the part of savvy frozen-food packaging manufacturers drive further gains in the run up to 2020 and beyond?
A trip to your local supermarket is rarely fuss-free. But sometimes, just grabbing a bag of curly fries and some chicken nuggets at the store feels like fighting your way to the front of the crowd at a chart-topping singer’s live concert. If you’ve been feeling like the frozen-food aisles are getting a little crowded lately, you’re right. The frozen-food market is growing - and shows no signs of slowing down.
From Beijing to Brooklyn: the frozen food market is growing
A new report from global research specialist Research & Markets forecasts that the frozen food-market in Europe will grow at a CAGR of 3.87% between 2016 and 2020. Meanwhile, a separate report from Hexa Research states that North America has the largest frozen-food market, while the fastest-growing markets will be found in India and China due to increasing disposable incomes and urbanization.
What’s fueling market growth?
There are number of factors spurring the growth of the frozen-food market. First, people are increasingly time-poor and are choosing meals that are quick and convenient. Another factor is the worldwide increase of women in the workforce - meal preparation still heavily gendered in some western households and the norm in many countries - as well as the aforementioned rise of urbanization and growth of disposable income in emerging economies.
Convenience reigns supreme
Packaging manufacturers have a number of considerations when it comes to frozen food. The design should be eye-catching, all necessary nutritional, ingredient, traceability and best-before data must be included, and the packaging material must be non-reactive to the food – but durable enough to go the distance in the freezer.
Still, if the primary growth drivers of the frozen-food market are hectic lifestyles and a perceived lack of time, packaging manufacturers must be alert to the consumer’s need for convenience. After all, many types of frozen food – especially ready-to-eat meals – need only heating as preparation.
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Packaging as a product innovator
The convenience of a frozen, ready-to-eat meal can be amplified by its packaging. Heat-resistant trays, for example, are already commonplace in the market. But can we expect to see increasing proliferation of more innovative packaging, such as microwaveable bowls or plates or even edible packaging? Packaging trays can be designed to keep the constituent parts of a meal separate – rice and meat, for example – and use of antimicrobial packaging and time-temperature indicators can help provide assurances to the consumer that their product is safe. It’s likely that packaging manufacturers who can bring creativity to the need for convenience will gain market share and help drive further growth in the frozen-food market. And, lest we forget, eco-friendly packaging is high on the consumer wishlist too.
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Are there any challenges?
Every market has its challenges and the frozen-food sector is no exception. Resistance remains among many consumers to frozen ready-to-eat meals, on the grounds that they are unhealthy and symbolic of laziness. Both food manufacturers and food packaging manufacturers must work together to find ways to overcome the barriers to purchase, and present frozen ready-to-eat meals as a viable option for health-conscious consumers.
Pushing the packaging envelope...
As the frozen-food market grows, it will be exciting to see how packaging manufacturers innovate to keep hungry consumers filling those busy frozen-food aisles.
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