How have the past few years shaped the current situation?
Millions of consumers enjoy frozen food each year, with the majority (30%) living in Europe. Close behind Europe is North America, with the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions being somewhat smaller but showing impressive yearly growth numbers. And with a global projected annual growth rate of 5% (2020 – 2025), the growth in frozen food popularity isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Considering frozen food needs frozen packaging like a fish needs water, it’s safe to say frozen packaging also has room to grow.
But before we look at the future of frozen packaging, let’s have a look at the story behind these expectations. What current or recent situations have led to the future trends and developments within frozen packaging?
1. Pressure on Pricing
One constant development within frozen packaging is the pressure on pricing. Keeping pricing consistent while adding features, or reducing costs with the same material, are constant pain-points. While this can be partly explained by companies simply looking to grow (after all: less costs equals more profit), there have also been other contributing factors.
- Private label brands have seen a continued growth in popularity. Aside from shifting more market share to products with lower prices itself, this movement also puts more pressure on the branded products to stabilize prices (and thus costs).
- A separate but equally consistent development is the growth of online marketplaces and grocery shopping. Many of the large retailers are slowly moving towards online orders and deliveries. With an impressive year-over-year growth we have another growing factor here.
2. Consumers who are looking for convenience/ constantly on the move
Where frozen food used to be mostly ingredients, the frozen segment is much more diverse in 2021. Complete vegetable mixes or ready meals are commonplace in the frozen segment. At the same time our hectic lifestyle is reducing serving sizes, so packaging serving sizes are looking to accommodate (both with smaller total sizes, and with special multi-serve packs).
If you want to know more about creating sustainable packaging without dramatically impacting your sustainability, we’ve written a complete blog on this very subject before. In short, the pointers were as follows: » Keep materials simple » Reduce use of inks and/or amount of colors » Be very critical in the use of lacquers.
3. Changes in consumer expectations
Frozen packaging has also led to consumers expecting their vegetables and fruits being available for the entire year, instead of being bound to the product’s actual season. Partly made possible by the frozen storage conditions, but also thanks to packaging (which plays an instrumental role in keeping them fresh). And these expectations also hold true for sustainability: especially younger generations have shown to put a larger emphasis on sustainable packaging.
4. Changes in (packaging) applications
With frozen products moving from singular add-ons (like a bag of frozen broccoli) to complete meal substitutes,
the role of packaging has also seen more responsibility. Packaging’s not only useful for protection or appearance:
but can now also participate more actively. For example during cooking: special packaging that helps or steam
the product before consumption is much more normal these days.
The current state of Frozen (Food)Packaging
The trends above have been some of the driving forces behind the evolution of frozen packaging. They have led to a market where price is a defining factor. Technological advancements (whether in application, sustainability, or consumer convenience) have to constantly be kept in proportion to cost-effectiveness and price challenges. Read our whitepaper to see how we expect this to happen in practice and for a useful checklist.