Frozen Snack Innovations Ignite Fast-Moving Category

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Millennial consumers are also a key driver behind growth in the plant-based segment of the frozen snack category. “Millennials are increasing demand for plant-based frozen foods because they are making value-based choices and want products that meet sustainability and health claims,” notes Planet Based’s Davis. In response, more products with simple, better-for-you, plant-based ingredients are entering the category.

For example, Planet Based has been expanding distribution of its hemp-based, vegan and gluten-free Southwest Taquitos and Original Taquitos, which debuted in November and are now available in 700 Kroger stores. Davis says the company plans to add more carry-on items to its line and will launch hemp-based dairy products in the second half of 2023.

Category data from Battle Creek, Michigan-based Kellogg Co. indicates the plant-based space increased nearly 2% as of July 2022. food for many reasons, including taste, health, sustainability and more menu options,” said a representative for Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms brand.

Meatless chicken, according to MorningStar Farms, is experiencing tremendous growth. Chicken’s popularity with consumers makes it an easy entry point for flexitarians to enter the category. MorningStar has made it a priority to develop “chik’n” products that meet consumers’ taste expectations. The brand’s line of meat alternatives includes Chik’n Nuggets, Mickey Mouse-shaped Chik’n Nuggets and Chik’n Tenders, and MorningStar has recently added a Spicy Chik’n Filet, Plant-Based Chik’n and an Eggo Style Waffle Sandwich to the lineup.

With more segments of the population gravitating toward plant-based options, these snacks have earned a spot in the frozen aisle, but IRI’s Wyatt cautions retailers against comparing them to products with greater mass appeal.

“Plant-based products have a role in the category and are very popular with millennials and Gen Z,” he says. “However, they are not popular with the mass population, so retailers need to be smart and set expectations accordingly.”

Variety boosts sweet frozen treats

If flavors and cuisines are driving snack foods, variety and value are driving the frozen sweet treats segment. Dollar sales of frozen novelties increased nearly 12% during the same period mentioned above, according to IRI. “Frozen novelties are a category where you can maximize value and minimize waste,” says Wyatt. “You can have a variety of flavors to appeal to a variety of people in your family.”

Wyatt adds that in this category, shoppers are also gravitating toward restaurant-quality products they can consume at home. While these products may be priced higher, they provide a restaurant-style experience without the cost of eating at a restaurant.

After Pennsauken Township, New Jersey-based J&J Snack Foods acquired Dippin’ Dots earlier this year, the company introduced a new puree product, Icee Cherry ‘n Blue Razz-flavored frozen pearls. J&J President and CEO Dan Fachner notes that the article is “the result of combining our expertise in frozen novelties to create new and exciting products for customers and fans to enjoy.”

Meanwhile, Unilever ice cream has launched 19 new products under its Breyers, Klondike, Magnum and Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto brands. The multinational’s ice cream brands had double-digit sales growth last year, according to Bentley King, director of US ice cream operations for Unilever USA, based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. “A portion of this success can be attributed to Magnum, a brand renowned for its indulgent offerings, which delivered positive volume growth this year, largely due to the introduction of new offerings like Duets, which combine two types of chocolate in a decadent bite,” says Rey.

[Read more: “Unilever Powers Up Ice Cream Restocking With Data-Driven App and Pilots”]

The company’s Talenti brand worked with chefs, mixologists and culinary creators to produce a line of pairings that borrowed from popular dessert and cocktail trends. “This combo dessert experience is a quality Millennial and Gen Z consumers look for when it comes to desserts,” King notes.

Magnum has also expanded into a broader variety of plant-based offerings in response to more consumers exploring or embracing a non-dairy lifestyle. It’s just one of many new plant-based frozen sweet treats offering consumers a variety of options.

For its part, the British company Wicked Kitchen, whose US headquarters are in Minneapolis, has launched a collection of plant-based ice creams and novelties made with the lupini bean, a pioneering product line in the US market. Chef-crafted pints and novelty sticks and cones are currently available at Kroger, Dillons, Fred Meyer, King Soopers and other chains.

Additionally, Montpelier, Vt.-based Wildgood, the first plant-based parfait made with extra virgin olive oil, recently added a caramelized fig flavor to its brand. Wildgood is currently sold at Sprouts, Publix, ShopRite, and select Whole Foods Market stores.