The frozen food and dairy sections drive more sales and store traffic than you think. Just ask Jeff Rumachik, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA).
Harrisburg, Pa.-based NFRA recently released its annual State of the Industry Report, which takes a deep dive into frozen and refrigerated food shopping and retail trends. Combined, frozen and dairy accounted for $125 billion in sales for 2019. On average, shoppers last year made 70 store trips to buy frozen and dairy items, and they spent $13.44 per trip.
Frozen continues to experience a rebirth, generating two years of back-to-back growth with sales of $54.6 billion, a gain of $918 million. The department accounts for 31 trips per buying household annually and adds $10.90 to the shopping basket per trip. More growth is expected for the category, according to NFRA, which noted that half of U.S. households have access to more than one freezer, giving them extra capacity to stock up.
Dairy, the second-largest edible department in the supermarket (excluding alcoholic beverages), tallied 2019 sales of $71 billion, delivering $550 million in year-over-year growth. NFRA said the dairy section drives 47 trips per buying household per year, with milk and cheese at the top of shoppers’ lists.
NFRA represents all segments of the frozen and refrigerated foods industry, including manufacturers, retailers/wholesalers, distributors, sales agents, logistics providers and other suppliers.
Rumachik has been with NFRA for 11 years. In his current role, he oversees marketing and promotional activities, including the NFRA Convention. His 40-year career in the food industry includes experience at all levels of store management in midsize and high-volume food stores, as well as in supervisory and advisory roles at wholesalers, independent supermarkets and chain stores. Prior to joining NFRA, he spent 18 years at the Food Marketing Institute, most recently as vice president of the wholesaler division.
In this podcast with Supermarket News, Rumachik sheds more light on the latest trends in the frozen, dairy and packaged deli categories. He also addresses how the frozen and refrigerated foods sector is being impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“This is certainly an unusual time we’re in, and it’s certainly unprecedented, dealing with this pandemic. Our industry has experience in dealing with emergencies, and that will serve us well as we face this uncertainty that lies ahead,” Rumachik said.
“What we hear is that people are stocking up. They’re stocking up their freezers, their refrigerators and their pantries as they prepare for, really, the unknown. I think one of the positives in all of this is that we do have a strong and safe food supply, and refrigerated and frozen foods are well-positioned to provide convenient and healthy meal solutions as everyone adjusts to this national emergency.”