With convenience topping its many attributes, frozen food rang up nearly $52 billion in U.S. retail sales through all channels in 2008, according toPackaged Facts, New York, N.Y. The consumer market researcher said this figure represents a 6.5 percent increase from approximately $49 billion in sales during 2007.

"It's no coincidence that some of the fastest-growing products in the frozen foods market benefit from having a convenience edge such as portability, being ready-to-eat or offering no-mess consumption and easy clean-up," notes Tatjana Meerman, Packaged Facts publisher. "Packaging formats cashing in on this angle include single-serve pouches, portionable packs and 'servings for two.'"

Whether eaten at home with family or "brown-bagged" to work for lunch, Packaged Facts says frozen foods offer a convenience that appeals to American consumers with little money or time to spare. Innovative convenience -- such as a new cooking method that preserves takes, texture and nutrition -- ranks high in consumer draws. And though health and wellness attributes are also key to success, indulgence is still in the mix as evidenced by popular products that either boast premium ingredients or offer decadent taste experiences in lighter dish formats. Ultimately, sheer convenience is still king among attributes consumers crave the most, the researcher says.

Packaged Facts projects that retail sales of frozen food and beverages (through all channels) will reach almost $65 billion in 2013, an increase of more than 25 percent or $13 billion over 2008 revenues.