The golden age of frozen food: U.S. frozen sales were already on the rise before the pandemic, but after that, the sky has been the limit. In January 2022, frozen food sales were up 26% compared to January 2020 (although that’s partly due to inflation). But it’s more than that. Shifts in buying habits as a result of the pandemic, along with changing preferences are part of what explain the continued popularity of frozen foods in the U.S. “Consumers very much think of frozen in collaboration with fresh,” says 210 Analytics’ Anne-Marie Roerink. She means: keep in mind — fresh and frozen don’t have to be separate entities. Consumers buy a frozen pizza and add fresh toppings. When it comes to marketing frozen, you really can’t go wrong. —Chloe Riley
A squirrel that rates product? When it comes to Kroger on TikTok, don’t expect some viral dance, but do expect something aimed squarely at Gen Z. A recent TikTok video from the grocery giant shows a squirrel named Henry sampling and “rating” items from Kroger’s private label vegetable tray. (Spoiler alert: Snap peas received a perfect score of 10.) A later video shows someone cutting through a chocolate milk jug with a knife while it is held over a bowl on a kitchen table. A voice says, “Stop opening your milk like this … instead open it like this” as a hand unscrews the cap. A little flair for the dramatic, but perhaps necessary for grocers to captivate younger audiences on social media. But come on, that Henry is pretty darn cute. —Bill Wilson
Watch those thermal stickers: According to new research, toxic chemicals similar to bisphenol A (BPA) are leaching from certain labels through packaging (most of them thermal labels) and into the meat, seafood, produce and other foods in some Canadian and U.S. grocery stores. The study collected a total of 140 samples of food packaging materials from grocery stores across Canada and the U.S. The biggest takeaway is that some of the levels exceeded levels recommended by the European Union. So what’s next? Thermal labels are widely used and a lack of regulation makes it difficult to know what contains the compound. But grocers may want to consider moving away from the labels where possible. —CR
From Trader Joe’s, with love: Having a really bad day? Step into a Trader Joe’s. You may get as lucky as this woman on TikTok, who made a video expressing her gratitude to one Trader Joe’s worker. The woman said she was having a bad couple of days and broke down crying at the register. The worker sprung into action, left the counter, and returned with an act of kindness: a small bouquet of flowers. Apparently Trader Joe’s empathy is widespread, as TikTok users commented on the post with similar experiences. Workers going the extra mile are invaluable to grocery retailers. More of this, please. —BW
The opportunity that is pizza: Although Americans consume more than three billion pizzas per year, new research indicates that some 40% of consumers don’t really care where that pizza comes from. Some 13% of recent restaurant pizza consumers are now opting for frozen or grocery store pizzas instead of restaurant or takeout pizzas due to rising costs. And 43% of recent restaurant pizza consumers also purchased grocery store pizzas in a typical week. The moral of the story? The people want pizza. And if that pizza comes to them via a grocery store, all the better. —CR
Frozen food sales are booming, but it's more than that. Shifts in buying habits as a result of the pandemic, along with changing preferences are part of what explain the continued popularity of frozen foods in the U.S. “Consumers very much think of frozen in collaboration with fresh,” says 210 Analytics’ Anne-Marie Roerink. How long do you think consumers will have this mindset? Let us know in the comment below or email SN Executive Editor Chloe Riley at [email protected].