It may be the title of President Barack Obama’s best-selling biography, but “The Audacity of Hope,” also is a phrase that applies to the current state of affairs in the refrigerated and frozen food industry. Despite unprecedented cost pressures (fuel, energy and raw materials), which wreaked havoc on  processors’ sales and earnings in 2007 and early 2008, refrigerated and frozen food processors are seeking a silver lining and learning to adjust to the nation’s prolonged recession.

Behind the scenes, there are both winners and losers and no shortage of fascinating storylines. Weak consumer spending - combined with recent retailer concern over branded food pricing - has brought tremendous opportunity for private label refrigerated and frozen food. Meanwhile, penny-pinching consumers - trading down from casual to fast-food dining - have shifted fortunes in the foodservice sector.

Industry leaders also have stories to tell. Although it’s rebounded with lower prices and greater market stability, dairy leader Dean Foods is hard at work restructuring its operations and distribution network. Elsewhere, Fresh Express salads’ parent Chiquita Brands International is priming the new products pipeline and Tyson Foods Inc. (like many) is reeling from an acknowledged oversupply of product and capacity in the poultry industry. For a look at who’s still standing - and how category leaders are responding - read on in R&FF’s 12th annual industry feature.


About This Report

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 12th annual industry leaders report profiles the top 25 processors in each of six refrigerated and frozen food sectors. Processors are ranked by annual net sales and listings represent R&FF’s best efforts to reflect pertinent sales from all channels. Sales figures and estimates are based on company reports, news releases, market analysts’ reports, industry media and other sources. Figures exclude shelf-stable products.Categories

Meals & Entrees

Includes refrigerated and frozen breakfasts and breakfast entrees, hand-held entrees and sandwiches, bagged meal kits, pizza, plated dinner meals and entrees, pot pies, meatless entrees, prepared seafood entrees, soups and pasta.

Snacks, Appetizers & Side Dishes

Includes refrigerated and frozen prepared snacks, appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, side dishes, deli-style salads, potato products, prepared gelatins, puddings and soft pretzels.

Meat & Poultry

Includes fresh and processed beef, poultry, pork and lamb.


Includes refrigerated and frozen breads, rolls, bagels, biscuits, cakes, pies, Danish, cookies and other products. Available in dough, par-baked and fully baked forms.


ncludes milk, butter, cultured products, ice cream, novelties, natural and processed cheese, dairy-based spreads and toppings.

Fruits & Vegetables

Includes refrigerated and frozen processed fruit, vegetables and prepared, fresh-cut salads.

Editor’s notes:  

Research support for
R&FF’s annual Top 150 came in part from sister BNP Media publications, including National Provisioner, Dairy Foods and Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods also wishes to thank retail industry market tracker Information Resources Inc., Chicago.

Questions, comments or clarifications? We value your interest and insights. Please contact Editor Bob Garrison at or (574) 935-3724.