Value Priced Frozen Entrees - Low Income Consumers

Goals

To have data to substantiate that value priced frozen entrees are a good idea for grocery stores to keep on the shelf, specifically for the low income consumer. To prove that low income consumers have a desire for value priced convenient meals, like Michelinas frozen entrees. Overall to have data that can be shown to retailers to show why Michelinas (and brands like them) should be part of the assortment in store, and why it's important to keep them. An ideal response would include information on low income consumers and their eating behavior and needs, as well as any brand preference among low income consumers.

Early Findings

  • "When evaluating the top food choices in Ipsos’ data, lower-income household consumers report eating less than their fair share of fresh fruits and vegetables but more than their fair share of frozen and packaged/canned options, perhaps motivated by heightened concerns over cost and perishability."
  • "Looking at food preparation habits, those in lower-income households are less likely to prepare fully-homemade dishes, even at the all-important dinner occasion, opting instead for partially homemade solutions and ready-made heat-and-eat options. Providing a wider assortment of value-priced nearly-ready to eat dishes specifically targeted to dinner is a significant opportunity."
  • Convenience is not the only reason people are buying frozen dinners, according to one study. Parents, arguably one of the busiest consumer demographics, are also buying frozen meals for a myriad of reasons: because their families enjoys the meals, their kids can help prepare them, and they saw cost savings when they looked at money spent on conventional food.
  • According to The Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues, "The variety of frozen foods is ever-increasing with products catering to all tastes, dietary requirements, and occasions. Increasingly, product lines are being diversified to include upmarket items as well."
  • Low-income shoppers are as likely to cook as higher-income folks, but their tight budgets preclude risk taking. They opt more often for whatever is easiest and cheapest and are less likely to prioritize nutrition."
  • The frozen food aisle is a rare bright spot within the struggling packaged food industry. Successfully leading the trend is Conagra Brands, which owns many frozen food brands like Healthy Choice, Marie Callender’s, and Banquet, and have recently doubled-down with their announcement to purchase Pinnacle Foods. Even with the company’s recent earnings announcement with lower-than-expected results in frozen food, the segment is still driving growth.
  • Between 2011 and 2013, frozen food sales grew by 11% (up 20% among skilled working class groups) and spending on chilled ready meals went up 19% (25-30% among working class groups) as hard pressed consumers seek "recession buster" value.
  • A better understanding of the health benefits of frozen and canned fruits and vegetables could put more healthy options within reach for low-income families.
  • Eight in 10 families make dinner at home at least five times a week. Most of the time, low income families are cooking dinners at home from scratch. They are using easy-to-prepare packaged foods on other nights.
  • A study in the journal Social Science & Medicine, by Harvard sociology doctoral student Caitlin Daniel, shows that, in order to minimize waste, lower-income families are less likely to give their kids new, healthy foods.
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our first hour of research informed us that it will be difficult to obtain sources within the past 12-24 months that address low income consumers and frozen foods specifically. However, we did find data that discussed low income consumers and convenience foods, which frozen entrees are a part of.
  • As a geographical focus was not provided to us, we presented global research in the early findings. For example, from Canada, the UK, and the US. If a more targeted approach is desired, for example, the United States, this would have to be clearly communicated to us in any reply.
  • We did not have time in the initial research to explore any brand preference for value priced frozen entrees for low income consumers, but we have serious doubts that this is available publicly.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Proposed next steps:

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