Frozen Food Comes in From the Cold

Big Food is betting that frozen food, a relic of Sputnik and the Mickey Mouse Club, can stir the hearts and palates of the quinoa generation even as sales figures have fallen each year since 2009. The products need to overcome a reputation, some of it earned and some not, that the meals found in your grocer’s freezer, often packed with sodium and preservatives, taste meh. “Frozen food suffers from a lot of baggage,’’ said Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer of the Hartman Group, a Bellevue, Washington¬based food consulting company.“There’s a perception that it comes from an industrialized place.’’


The Next Hot Trends in Food

Of all the budding meaty substitutes, food experts say jackfruit has the most potential to go mainstream because of its meaty texture and ability to absorb the flavors in which it’s cooked. A large fruit with a spiky outer shell, it comes from trees grown mostly in South America and Southeast Asia, but it’s increasingly making its way to the U.S. The inner flesh—somewhat pear-like when raw—develops a savory flavor when cooked. “People who want to avoid soy are looking for alternatives, and a lot of the alternatives are highly processed,” says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights at Hartman Group. “This is just fruit that’s been minimally processed and seasoned with things you have in your kitchen.”

General Mills Taps into the Ingenuity of Start-up Companies

“In prior years, clients came to us when they were seeing slippage in their [market] shares and were looking to innovate on their existing brands,” said Shelley Balanko, senior vice president of the Hartman Group, a consumer foods research firm. “But there is a certain point in time when culture takes over and no matter what sort of innovation you do, if the consumers don’t value your brand, it doesn’t matter.”


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