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A new ad campaign attempts to reinvigorate a category on the decline, but does frozen food deserve the bad rap?
The frozen foods industry is on a mission, and it’s a mission of survival. With the rise in demand for organic, fresh foods in recent years, sales of frozen foods have declined. Even the fast food industry has attempted to navigate this trend with marketing slang like “fresh, never frozen." So it comes as no surprise that the frozen food industry is dropping some serious dime on a new ad campaign that promotes the healthy and convenient aspects of frozen food.
Ad Age reports that the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and the Frozen Food Roundtable (FFR) have signed a $50 million deal with two prominent ad agencies. The groups are looking for a campaign that will “change the way consumers think and feel about frozen food by promoting positive messaging regarding the benefits and attributes of frozen food.”
But positive messaging can only go so far. After all, the reason why 98 percent of frozen food products are suffering declines is not that there are more convenient alternatives, it’s that these foods are seen as largely unhealthy.
Clearly, it’s the decline of frozen meals that have the industry shaking in its boots. The Ad Age report found this was a particular concern for the 35-to-44-year-old demographic.
But forget the marketing hullabaloo for a minute. What’s the truth? Are frozen foods really that unhealthy? Or is this trend more of a product-by-product concern?
According to Eating Well, certain steps in the commercial freezing process rob raw ingredients of some of their nutrients. For example, the process of blanching produce in hot water to kill bacteria causes some vitamins to break down or leach out. Fruits and vegetables destined for frozen packaging are also prematurely harvested, limiting the volume of nutrients in the food. Furthermore, just because these foods are frozen doesn’t mean they don’t degrade or lose their nutrients.
Fresh is almost always better, even if it’s pricier and less convenient. But it's a bit extreme to categorically disregard frozen foods as unhealthy junk.
(Photos: Flickr user I-5 Design & Manufacture, Creative Commons (top); Flickr user Memphis CVB, Creative Commons (bottom))