Description

With this report, understand when, where, how, and why consumers purchase and consume frozen snacks in the US. Consumer behavior and preferences are analyzed alongside market performance to provide your business with the tools it needs to respond effectively to the latest developments in frozen snacks.

Below, we summarize the core topics analyzed and offer handpicked insights from the report.

Core Topics Analyzed

  • Frozen snack purchasing and purchase frequency.
  • Current frozen snack occasions and interest in uses.
  • Frozen snack purchase factors.
  • Interest in frozen snack concepts.
  • Frozen snacks attitudes and behaviors.

US Frozen Snacks Market Overview

The pandemic reframed consumer shopping habits, boosting the frozen snacks category by just over 21%. Inflation has been a key driver in dollar sales growth since 2020, though. In 2022, volume sales in the frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels segment grew minimally and slipped in the frozen handheld entrees segment, despite the growth in dollar sales. The market is still proving accessible, but prices are steadying. To continue engagement with younger generations, frozen snacks must prove variety and quality, and this is discussed in the full report.

This report offers market size, share, and segment performance figures and analysis.

Frozen Snack Consumer Trends and Strategies for Brands

Frozen snacks are proving continually popular with American consumers, but what are the key consumer trends and their related opportunities? Find out more below.

Frozen snack engagement continues

Just 16% of US consumers report a lack of engagement with frozen snacks, indicating these products meet a real need. However, no one snack dominates, as there’s no consensus on specific purchases. To stand out, companies must maintain key points of value like convenience and crave-worthiness, while adding unique attributes such as flavour, cooking method, packaging and health claims.

Different generations call for different approaches

Eating habits are changing with generations, with a shift toward less traditional meals and more casual eating experiences. As mentioned, most consumers are engaging with frozen snacks, but it’s important to note that engagement varies by generation. For example, Gen Z are the main consumers of pizza bites/rolls, while Millennials top for corn dogs (see full report for graph). Frozen snacks can drive engagement across all ages by emphasizing their versatility.

Opportunity for brands within frozen snacks

In terms of opportunities/strategies for frozen snack brands, Mintel research finds that existing options in frozen snacks are satisfactory for many. BFY (better-for-you) purchase factors remain niche, but there is room for international flavors to combine with BFY to increase engagement. Overall, products can be positioned as part of a balanced meal to provide more occasions for consumption.

Find a complete analysis of opportunities in the US frozen snacks industry in the full report, where our analyst uses our independent consumer research to provide strategic recommendations going forward. Alternatively, browse our snacks market research to find more relevant reports.

Definitions and Brands Discussed

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • Frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels (eg Totino’s Pizza Rolls, Bagel Bites, T.G.I. Friday’s Potato Skins, Superpretzels).
  • Frozen handheld entrees (eg Hot Pockets, burritos, Uncrustables/sandwiches).

Not included in this Report are:

  • Frozen breaded vegetables, such as breaded mushrooms.
  • Frozen chicken products, such as chicken tenders, chicken nuggets and chicken fingers.
  • Frozen dinners or entrées.
  • Refrigerated or shelf-stable snacks of any kind.

A number of companies and brands relevant to the scope of the report are discussed, including key players and more niche brands. Examples are Nestle (Hot Pockets), JM Smucker Company (Uncrustables), General Mills (Totino’s, The Pizza Cupcake), and many more.

Additional Features Included in Your Report

Different Digital Formats: PDF for conveniently sharing with your team, PowerPoint for quickly including in your presentation, as well as an Infographic and an Excel Databook.

Mintel’s Clients Portal: Our portal offers instant access to actionable analysis and trends pieces relevant to your industry that are published almost daily. You can also browse for more market research reports.

Expert Analysis from a Food Specialist

This report, written by Kelsey Olsen, a leading food and drink analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the US frozen snacks market, adding expert context to the numbers.

Frozen snacks are evolving quickly into a mealtime solution as snacks and meals blur, with strong consumer interest underwriting this new direction. Versatility is quickly becoming as integral to the category as convenience and ease, which remain foundational.

Kelsey Olsen, Food and Drink Analyst

 

Kelsey Olsen
Food and Drink Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top Takeaways
                • Consumer trends
                  • Frozen snacks have broad appeal
                    • Figure 1: Frozen snack consumption, 2023
                  • Frozen snacks are fit for evolving generational eating habits
                    • Figure 2: Frozen snack consumption, by generation, 2023
                  • Frozen snacks as more than a kid-friendly solution
                    • Figure 3: Current Frozen Snack Occasions and Uses, by parental status, 2023
                  • Balance different sized needs
                    • Figure 4: frequency of purchase by specific frozen snack, by household size, 2023
                  • Competitive strategies
                    • Fresh twists on frozen snacks
                      • Figure 5: Twists on nostalgic frozen snacks
                    • Snacks as meals and snacks
                      • Figure 6: social media inspiration for frozen snacks at meal times, 2023
                    • Market predictions
                      • Figure 7: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of market, at current prices, 2018-28
                      • Figure 8: Category outlook, 2023-28
                    • Opportunities
                      • Add value to add occasions
                        • Figure 9: Interest in frozen snack occasions, 2023
                      • Widen positioning to reach more consumers
                        • Figure 10: frozen snack attitudes, 2023
                      • Makeover frozen snacks to be more than just a back-up plan at meal times
                        • Figure 11: Frozen snack behaviors, 2023
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • Following elevated purchasing and prices, market will steady
                        • Figure 12: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of frozen snacks market, at current prices, 2018-28
                        • Figure 13: Total US Retail sales and forecast of frozen snacks, at current prices, 2018-2028
                        • Figure 14: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen snacks, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2018-28
                    • Segment Performance

                      • Frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels play catch up
                        • Figure 15: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen snacks, by segment, at current prices, 2018-28
                      • Variety will be key for freezer sections
                        • Figure 16: Total US retail sales of frozen snacks, by channel, at current prices, 2018-2023
                    • Market Drivers

                      • Freezer space potential barrier for frozen foods
                        • Figure 17: US Google Searches of ‘deep freezer’ over time, 2018-2023
                      • Consumer priorities and technology evolve frozen foods heating methods
                        • Figure 18: Frequency of cooking-related activities, 2022
                        • Figure 19: Percent of frozen food launches with microwavable claim, 2018-2022
                      • Generations blur the line between meals and snacks
                        • Figure 20: Frequency of snacking, 2022
                      • Solidify longer term value proposition for frozen snacks
                        • Figure 21: Frozen snack purchases, by financial situation, 2023
                        • Figure 22: Consumer Sentiment Index, 2007-2023
                    • Market Share/Key Players

                      • Market leaders experience varied sales growth, boosted by inflation
                        • Leading companies’ market share dominated by top brands
                          • A mix of frozen snacks categories drive growth for other market leaders
                            • Figure 23: Multi-outlet sales of frozen snacks, by leading companies, rolling 52 weeks 2022 and 2023
                          • Appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels segment points to opportunity for variety
                            • Totino’s Pizza Rolls hold strong
                              • Variety (in format and flavors) is the name of the game for segment growth
                                • Emerging brands growth from mix of fun and function
                                  • Figure 24: Multi-outlet sales of frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2022 and 2023
                                • Brand loyalty proves important in frozen handhelds
                                  • Hot Pockets and Uncrustables hold almost half of segment share
                                    • Connect consumers with smaller segment players
                                      • Growth from innovation in handhelds: global inspiration, format innovation, increased inclusivity
                                        • Figure 25: Multi-outlet sales of frozen handheld entrees, by leading companies and brands, rolling 52 weeks 2022 and 2023
                                    • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                                      • Nostalgia… reinvigorated
                                        • Figure 26: Twists on nostalgic frozen snacks, 2023
                                      • Frozen snacks may be plant based sweet spot
                                        • Figure 27: Plant Based frozen snacks, 2023
                                        • Figure 28: Frozen Food Launches with Plant Based Claim, 2018-2023
                                      • Stretch frozen snacks to fit flexible occasions
                                        • Figure 29: social media inspiration for frozen snacks at meal times, 2023
                                      • Frozen sandwiches best fit for thaw and eat innovation
                                        • Figure 30: thaw and eat products and positioning, 2023
                                      • Meet the growing demand for exploration in the frozen aisle
                                        • Figure 31: Global inspired frozen snacks, 2023
                                      • Level up targeted marketing
                                        • Figure 32: Hot Pockets Instagram posts, 2023
                                    • The Frozen Snacks Consumer – Fast Facts

                                      • Prove ability to meet individual and group needs
                                        • Build upon convenience to build occasions
                                          • Variety is the spice of frozen snacks
                                          • Frozen Snack Purchases

                                            • Keep comfort and convenience at core
                                              • Figure 33: Trended frozen snack consumption, 2022-2023
                                            • A new wave of frozen snackers
                                              • Figure 34: Frozen snack consumption, by generation, 2023
                                            • Forge longer term engagement without ties to life stage
                                              • Figure 35: Frozen snack consumption, by parental status, 2023
                                          • Frequency of Purchase by Specific Frozen Snack

                                            • Frozen snack loyalty is product-dependent
                                              • Figure 36: frequency of purchase by specific frozen snack, 2023
                                            • Frozen snacks: more than an afterthought
                                              • Figure 37: frequency of purchase by specific frozen snack, by generation, 2023
                                            • Frozen snacks must be fit for different household sizes
                                              • Figure 38: frequency of purchase by specific frozen snack, by household size, 2023
                                          • Current Frozen Snacks Occasions

                                            • Lean into blurred occasions
                                              • Figure 39: Current Frozen Snack Occasions and Uses, 2023
                                            • Maintain versatility with younger frozen snackers
                                              • Figure 40: Current Frozen Snack Occasions and Uses, by generation, 2023
                                            • Non-parents may need convenience proven
                                              • Figure 41: Current Frozen Snack Occasions and Uses, by parental status, 2023
                                          • Interest in Frozen Snack Uses

                                            • Piece together quick meals with frozen snacks
                                              • Figure 42: Interest in frozen snack occasions, 2023
                                            • Differentiate meal time positioning for men
                                              • Figure 43: Interest in frozen snack occasions, by gender, 2023
                                            • Make meal times easier, especially for individuals
                                              • Figure 44: Interest in frozen snack occasions, by generation, 2023
                                          • Frozen Snack Purchase Factors

                                            • Build towards innovation with brand trust
                                              • Figure 45: Frozen snack purchase factors, 2023
                                            • Convince vs nutrition: a balancing act
                                              • Figure 46: Frozen snack purchase factors, by parental status, 2023
                                            • Prove frozen snacks fit for meal times
                                              • Figure 47: Frozen snack purchase factors, by parental status, 2023
                                          • Interest in Frozen Snack Concepts

                                            • Stack flavor and format concepts to encourage trial
                                              • Figure 48: Interest in frozen snack concepts, 2023
                                            • Prove convenience from the outside in for female consumers, especially
                                              • Figure 49: Interest in frozen snack concepts, by gender, 2023
                                            • Creativity will craft connections
                                              • Figure 50: Interest in frozen snack concepts, by generations, 2023
                                          • Frozen Snack Attitudes

                                            • Zoom out to portray a sense of better
                                              • Figure 51: frozen snack attitudes, 2023
                                            • Expand engagement with generationally tailored positioning
                                              • Figure 52: frozen snack attitudes, by generation, 2023
                                            • Craft customizable frozen snack experiences
                                              • Figure 53: frozen snack attitudes, by parental status, 2023
                                          • Frozen Snack Behaviors

                                            • Convenience doesn’t mean a compromise
                                              • Figure 54: Frozen snack behaviors, 2023
                                            • Explore alternative preparation methods
                                              • Figure 55: Frozen snack behaviors, by parental status, 2023
                                            • Make room in the freezer to allow increased engagement
                                              • Figure 56: Frozen snack behaviors, by generation, 2023
                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                            • Data sources
                                              • Sales data
                                                • Forecast
                                                  • Consumer survey data
                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                      • Appendix – The Market

                                                          • Figure 57: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen snacks, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2018-28
                                                          • Figure 58: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen snacks, by segment, at current prices, 2018-28
                                                          • Figure 59: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels, at current prices, 2018-28
                                                          • Figure 60: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2018-28
                                                          • Figure 61: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen handheld entrees, at current prices, 2018-28
                                                          • Figure 62: Total US retail sales and forecast of frozen handheld entrees, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2018-28
                                                          • Figure 63: Value, volume and average price of multi-outlet frozen appetizers/snack rolls/pretzels, 2018-2022
                                                          • Figure 64: Value, volume and average price of multi-outlet frozen handheld entrees, 2018-2022

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