Retailers to Promote Healthier Frozen Food Items

BY Rachel Cagle
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"In honor of National Frozen Food Day, Consumer Reports asked dietitians to share some pros and cons of frozen foods: products worth stocking your freezer with and pitfalls to avoid."

'Frozen foods can be a lifesaver when you don’t have the time or ingredients to make a healthy meal from scratch,' says Angie Murad, R.D., a dietitian with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. 'But not all frozen foods are ones you want to rely on, so you do have to be careful what you choose.'” 

According to AudienceSCAN, 41.4% of Frozen Food Lovers want to eat healthier. But it can be difficult to find frozen foods that are healthy for you. That's probably why, when looking up where to buy the kinds of frozen foods that can help them reach their goals, Frozen Food Lovers turn to the internet. Last month, 44.4% used a search engine to research a product they were considering. They were probably using Google, the preferred search engine of 87.5% of this audience. However, only 17.3% of these consumers will go past the first page of search results

"The healthiest frozen foods are the single-​ingredient ones. 'I stock my freezer using the same principles I use when buying fresh food,' says Liz DeJulius, R.D., a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. 'I look for high-​quality whole foods that I can use as ingredients for making a quick, healthy meal.'”

"These include frozen items such as:

  • Fruit: Keep bags of berries, mangoes, and other fruit in the freezer to use in smoothies, yogurt parfaits, or muffins. Choose products that are free of added sugars
  • Vegetables: As with frozen fruit, frozen veggies are a great way to get the produce you love no matter what’s in season. Just be careful to avoid packages that contain a lot of added sodium or veggies that come with fatty sauces
  • Whole Grains and Beans: Frozen bags of whole grains (brown rice and quinoa) and beans (black beans and chickpeas) are making it easier than ever to eat more of this healthy food group. You can find blends of beans and grains or grains and veggies, too, but these might come with seasoning and sodium. Look for those that have no more than 350 mg of sodium per 1‑cup serving, and preferably less. Plain frozen beans often have no added sodium compared with canned, which can have 400 mg or more per ½‑cup serving"

"The frozen-​food aisles can be nutritional minefields if you don’t know what to look out for. While no category of frozen food needs to be totally off-​limits, make sure to read labels and know what you’re getting

  • Frozen Entrees: Check the nutrition label to see how much sodium an entrée contains. Murad says. 'Choose ones that have around 600 mg per serving' (and no more than 800 mg). And skip anything that’s fattened up by a heavy cream or cheese sauce. The flip side is that some frozen entrées are so small and low in calories that they may not fill you up enough to count as a meal. 'Look for ones that have 350 to 500 calories and at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber to help you stay satisfied longer,' Murad says
  • Pizza: A slice or two of thin-​crust pizza (ideally made with whole-​wheat flour) topped with veggies isn’t a bad option when you’re in a hurry. You can even bump up the nutritional value by tossing a handful of spinach or arugula on top after you cook it. Be wary of the sodium count, however: Pizza is one of the top 10 sources of sodium in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the pizza is your entrée, 600 mg of sodium or less is a good number to shoot for, and no more than 800 mg per serving. However, when checking the nutrition information, look at the serving size. It could be the whole pizza (for a personal pie), half the pie, a third of the pie, or one-​sixth of the pie
  • Ice Cream: 'Premium ice creams have more fat and therefore more calories,' says Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor of nutrition at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health in Jacksonville. 'And the more ‘add-​ins’ (such as nuts, fudge, candy) the more calories, sugar, and fat,' Wright says. Sherbets, ices, and sorbets are lower-​calorie options
  • Breakfast Sandwiches: These aren’t the healthiest way to start your day. If you need to make breakfast from the freezer, you’re much better off grabbing some frozen fruit to whip into a smoothie and microwaving a bowl of frozen steel-​cut oatmeal (just watch the sugar content)"

Grocers can promote their healthy frozen food selections to Frozen Food Lovers through digital advertisements. According to AudienceSCAN, last year, 57.6% of these consumers took action after receiving email ads and 51.1% clicked on text link ads on websites. They're also 44% more likely than other adults to find advertising on their mobile apps useful. Traditional ads should also be incorporated into any campaign. Also within the last year, these shoppers took action after seeing TV commercials (68.9%) and digital and print newspaper ads (55.5%).

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.