September 29, 2023

BOCA RATON, FLA. — Conagra Manufacturers, Inc. is “simply getting warmed up” within the $79 billion frozen meals class, mentioned Sean M. Connolly, president and chief govt officer.

The Chicago-based maker of Birds Eye, Marie Callender’s, Wholesome Selection and Banquet is the biggest participant in frozen meals in america, with $6.5 billion in gross sales, Mr. Connolly mentioned, citing IRI information for the yr ended Dec. 25, 2022. Eight years earlier, when Mr. Connolly joined the corporate, he mentioned “there was just about no innovation” within the phase and the “meals high quality was horrible,” noting retailers had been centered on “ultra-low value factors.”

Since then, he mentioned, Conagra Manufacturers has constructed a “relentless stream of innovation within the frozen house,” and he credit these efforts for reworking the class into “a vibrant space driving complete retail retailer gross sales” as we speak.

“Now to win in frozen, you must have scale and you must have scope, and we’ve bought each,” Mr. Connolly mentioned throughout a Feb. 21 presentation on the Shopper Analyst Group of New York convention in Boca Raton. “These are the 5 frozen classes the place we compete: meals, greens and sides, breakfast, desserts and plant-based protein. All of those areas are massive, and all of those areas are rising.”

The corporate has up to date its 4 “juggernaut” frozen manufacturers by including premium attributes and elements that attraction to trendy buyers. Mr. Connolly expects a number of client shifts to assist continued momentum within the frozen meals class.

“Trying forward, a number of frozen tailwinds exist beginning with household formation; sure, millennials and Gen Zs are settling down,” he mentioned. “They’re starting to have children. When that occurs, their frozen consumption per class goes up. Once they have extra children and extra children, it goes up and up once more. That’s a tailwind.

“Moreover, we consider that the shift to at-home consuming and the shift to distant working will stay elevated versus pre-pandemic, and that’s good for enterprise.

“After which lastly, it’s unimaginable to argue with the notion that frozen provides superior relative worth in comparison with perishable or away from dwelling, which can be good for enterprise.”

Forthcoming frozen innovation from Conagra Manufacturers consists of Banquet Mega Crustless Pizza, Marie Callender’s indulgent aspect dishes, together with a inexperienced bean casserole and tacky potato casserole, Marie Callender’s no-sugar-added apple pie, and Wholesome Selection Energy Bowls that includes trending seafood choices. New Birds Eye choices together with spinach and artichoke dip, Buffalo cauliflower dip, fire-roasted brussels sprouts, and Birds Eye Fusions, which mixes “elevated greens and sauces,” Mr. Connolly mentioned.

“Our Gardein Final line will proceed to increase,” he added. “We all know so much about bowls. So why not convey the nice Gardein Final lineup into bowls?…

Different new frozen meals launches increase the Purple Carrot, Child Delicacies, La Choy and PF Chang’s House Menu model portfolios.

Mr. Connolly described frozen as “the right temperature state for as we speak’s shoppers.”

“You may mainly take no matter meals you’ll be able to think about within the frozen part and flash freeze it from the height of freshness; it is handy, prepared when shoppers are,” he mentioned. “There’s restricted meals waste and spoilage. And mainly, you will get restaurant high quality at dwelling when its completed proper at an incredible worth.

“So our perspective when it got here to frozen was, ‘if you happen to can dream it, we will freeze it.’