Ensuring the safe and efficient distribution of frozen foods is no easy task. Moving product through the entire cold chain to achieve time-sensitive delivery requires overcoming any number of hurdles, be it fuel costs, labor needs, or new rules and regulations.
Food logistics professionals face yet another challenge: despite our best efforts to get products to the store, what if those products don’t make their way into the shopping carts of consumers?
It may come as a surprise to learn that the grocery shopping public has been turning away from the frozen food aisle. In fact, we’ve experienced flat, or declining, sales for 98 percent of frozen food categories due, in part, to negative messaging from food elites who wrongly and unfairly disparage frozen foods.
This is dispiriting for frozen food makers who endeavor to provide consumers with a diverse range of healthy and affordable foods. It’s also troubling news for food distribution and logistics professionals, who depend on the economic health of the industry for their own livelihoods.
For businesses centered on the storage, transportation and distribution of frozen foods, the more this anti-frozen message resonates with consumers, the less demand there’ll be for frozen food logistics providers. Put simply, if consumers aren’t buying our products, retailers won’t need to stock them.
Thankfully, that’s about to change!
Leading frozen food makers and retailers have united in support of a new and exciting category promotion campaign. The Frozen Food Roundtable, organized under the auspices of the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), has come together to launch a multi-year, multi-million dollar, positive, consumer-facing, nationwide campaign.
Our goal is simple: to change the way consumers think and feel about frozen foods, bring them back into the frozen food aisle and encourage them to take foods made in our kitchens and serve them in theirs.
Utilizing traditional and digital advertising, a robust public relations program and a plethora of tools designed to bring the campaign to life in the frozen food aisle, our campaign will reach consumers at home and in their grocery store.
The Roundtable came together in late 2012 and is being led by leading frozen food senior executives from AFFI member companies ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Heinz North America, Hillshire Brands, Jasper Wyman & Sons, Kellogg Company, Pinnacle Foods, Nestlé USA and the Schwan Food Company.
This summer, we brought several of the nation’s largest retailers together to detail our campaign, its objectives, timeline and opportunities for engagement. With input from the Roundtable’s Retail Advisory Council, we are partnering with retailers across the country to welcome consumers back to the frozen food aisle.
The Roundtable will soon seed the campaign by promoting the findings of a just completed multi-year study, conducted by the University of Georgia (UGA), which compares the nutritional profile of frozen fruits and vegetables to that of their “fresh” counterparts.
The Frozen Food Foundation, an AFFI-affiliated not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering scientific research and public awareness of the nutritional benefits of frozen foods, commissioned the study. As expected, the UGA study conclusively demonstrates that frozen fruits and vegetables are at least as rich in nutrients, and in many cases are packed with higher nutrient levels, than their “fresh” counterparts.
To change the mindset of consumers and help them understand that freezing is just nature’s pause button, the results of this study represent the good news consumers are hungry to hear about our products.
Working with our partners at GolinHarris, who were honored with the 2013 PRWeek “Consumer Launch Campaign of the Year” award, we will package and share this information with the media and leading food influencers to initiate a far more positive conversation about frozen foods and the cold chain.
We’re excited to get this initial public relations promotion underway, and even more enthused as we quickly approach the much larger launch of our campaign online, on television and in store.
As you would expect, there is significant interest in this campaign throughout the frozen food industry. The response among frozen food makers and retailers has been tremendous, underscoring the need for a campaign of this magnitude.
If you’re interested in learning how your company can support the Roundtable’s campaign, I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 821-0770.
Naasz is president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute. More information can be found at www.affi.org.