2016 into 2017 has been quite the year of milestones—the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) split (gasp!!!) and the U.S. election brought out the good, the bad and the ugly in everyone.

But, all sports, politics and pop culture aside, it was the frozen foods industry that continued to make headlines.

Kraft and H.J. Heinz finalized their merger agreement to create The Kraft Heinz Co., co-located out of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Chicago.

ConAgra Foods, Chicago, completed its previously announced separation of the Lamb Weston business, and changed its name to Conagra Brands, Inc.

Nestlé USA, a Glendale, Calif.-based subsidiary of Nestlé S.A., announced plans to transition its corporate headquarters to Rosslyn, Va., beginning later this year.

General Mills, Minneapolis, announced plans to more than double the organic acreage from which it sources ingredients to meet its goal of 250,000 acres by 2019. 

And, Palermo Villa, Milwaukee, Wis., received Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2016 Frozen Foods Processor of the Year award.

Furthermore, many market trends studies indicate growth within the frozen foods market.

For instance, while total market sales of frozen products climbed by only 0.8% last year, online sales soared 18%, according to a report published by Allied Market Research, Portland, Ore. In addition, Allied Market Research forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 4.1% for frozen foods for the period of 2015-2020.

According to “Grocery eCommerce Index for Frozen,” a study published by MyWebGrocer, Winooski, Vt., there is a significant opportunity for frozen food brands to drive even more revenue online. The report found that not only are consumers buying frozen foods online, but they’re also spending more on these items online than they are in store.

New product development in the frozen food aisles has also spurred growth overseas, and a survey by Assocham (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) in 2015 predicted that India’s packaged food market would witness a quantum jump to $50 billion by 2017 from $32 billion due to increasing popularity of ready-to-eat packaged foods.

Welcome to Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ annual Top 150 Frozen Foods Processors report, which breaks down the Top 25 frozen food processors in each of the six sectors. Processors are ranked by annual net sales and listings.

Specifics about each report:

  • Meals/Entrées—21 out of 25 processors (84%) updated their profiles.
  • Meat/Poultry/Seafood—20 out of 25 processors (80%) updated their profiles.
  • Dairy—17 out of 25 processors (68%) updated their profiles.
  • Snacks/Apps/Sides—19 out of 25 processors (76%) updated their profiles.
  • Bakery—15 out of 25 processors (60%) updated their profiles.
  • Fruits/Vegetables—17 out of 25 processors (68%) updated their profiles.

Twenty-one companies appear in more than one category, and are marked with an * by the company name. For those companies that didn’t respond or refused to release figures, estimated sales numbers, which are marked with an asterisk (*), are based on company reports, news releases, market analysts’ reports, industry media and more. This report represents Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ best efforts to reflect pertinent sales from all channels.

A special thank you goes to Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ sister publications—Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, National Provisioner and Dairy Foods—for their research and support in the bakery, meat/poultry/seafood and dairy foods sections, respectively. And, of course thank you to all of the respondents for taking the time to update their company information and providing the industry with the most up-to-date information possible.

Microwavable Foods Spur Growth in Frozen Meals Category

Frozen microwavable foods represent the largest and fastest growing microwavable foods product segment, according to a study produced by Persistence Market Research, New York.

And, North America and Europe are the largest market for microwavable foods, the study says, with the Asia-Pacific region expected to be fastest growing market for microwavable foods.

Here’s a snapshot of the Top 25 leaders in this category.

Changes from last year’s report

  • Added J. R. Simplot Co.
  • Removed P.F. Chang’s.

Significant events in 2016

Significant events still to come in 2017

  • Nestlé USA announced plans to transition its corporate headquarters from Glendale, Calif., to Rosslyn, Va., later this year.
  • Ruiz Food Products plans to expand its Dinuba, Calif., corporate headquarters.

The Power of Frozen Meat

The meat department is one of the most important categories for many food retailers, according to “The 2016 Power of Meat,” a report produced by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Arlington, Va., and North American Meat Institute (NAMI), Washington, D.C.

That’s why many of today’s frozen meat processors are building, expanding and innovating for the future.

Here’s how the Top 25 processors in this category are beefing up the competition.

Significant events in 2016

Significant events still to come in 2017

  • Cargill announced plans to invest $50 million to expand its poultry processing operations at its Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, facility. And, while the protein business headquarters will remain in Wichita, it will relocate to another building.
  • The joint venture between Seaboard Foods, Merriam, Kan., and Triumph Foods, St. Joseph, Mo., will come to fruition when it opens a fresh pork processing facility in Sioux City, Iowa, in the summer.
  • In early 2017, OSI will open the new GenOSI plant in the Philippines. GenOSI is an OSI Group company and a leading processor of beef, pork, chicken and fish items in the Philippines.
  • Mountaire Farms, Millsboro, Del., announced plans to launch a feed mill operation near its Laurinburg, N.C., site over the next three years.

Sustainable Packaging Heats Up the Frozen Dairy Aisle

The global market for dairy packaging will grow moderately during the forecast period and will post a steady CAGR of over 4% by 2020, according to a study produced by Technavio, Elmhurst, Ill.

Meanwhile, new product launches will create a demand for advanced dairy packaging in several regions.

Here’s a rundown of the Top 25 ice cream and frozen dessert processors in the industry.

Changes from last year’s report

  • Added Tyson Foods.
  • Removed Braum’s Inc.

Significant events in 2016

Significant events still to come in 2017

Market Leaders Enter Frozen Snacks Segment

The frozen snacks, appetizers and side dishes category experienced the most change, as a result of many industry players entering the market. For example, Kraft Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, Pa., introduced VELVEETA Stuffed Grilled Cheese and VELVEETA Cheesy Bites, McCain Foods, Canada, introduced McCain Marché, a line of oven-baked, never-fried frozen snacks, and Schwan’s Consumer Brands, Inc., Minneapolis, unveiled formulation updates and bold sauces to its Pagoda brand Potsticker and Crab Rangoon offerings.

Learn how the Top 25 processors in this category keep consumers coming back for more.

Changes from last year’s report

  • Added Ruiz Food Products.
  • Removed Bridgford Foods Corp.

Significant events in 2016

Significant events still to come in 2017

How Convenience Drives Frozen Bakery Segment

An increase in demand for convenient food products and the trend for greater taste, safety and consistency are the major factors driving the global frozen bakery products market, according to “Frozen Bakery Products Market by Type (Breads, Pizza Crusts, Cakes & Pastries), Distribution Channel (Artisan Bakers, Retail, Catering & Industrial), and Technology (Raw Products, Ready-to-Bake, Ready Baked & Frozen) - Global Forecast to 2022,” a report published by Markets and Markets, New York.

The cakes and pastries segment, for example, is projected to grow at the highest CAGR from 2016 to 2022. Increase in exports and imports of frozen cakes and pastries from dominant regions, such as North America and Europe, are the factors behind its continuously increasing market share in other parts of the world. In addition, specialty cakes and pastries with high starch-gluten ratio and low-protein wheat are gaining popularity, and are expected to contribute market revenue in 2022, the report says.

Retail currently holds the largest market share of the frozen bakery products market. Changing consumption patterns and the willingness and ability of customers to spend and try new products are key factors driving the growth of the retail channel. Moreover, the increasing number of supermarkets and hyper markets is moderately replacing fresh bread products made by chain bakeries and artisan bakers.

Find out how the Top 25 players in this category experienced growth.

Changes from last year’s report

  • Added Hostess Brands.
  • Removed Cole’s Quality Foods.

Significant events in 2016

Significant events still to come in 2017

  • Rhodes International, Salt Lake City, Utah, will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year.
  • Maplehurst Bakeries, a Brownsburg, Ind.-based division of Weston Foods Ltd., Canada, announced plans to build a 173,000-square-foot commercial bakery in Nashville, Tenn.

Frozen Fruit, Vegetable Market is on the Rise

The global frozen fruits and vegetable market will grow at an annual rate of 5.34% and reach 751 million tons by 2027, according to a report published by Market Research Future, Woburn, Mass.

Changing consumption patterns and busy schedules, as well as demand for newer flavors and ingredients have contributed to this growth. A rise in demand for convenience across the globe has also pushed frozen fruits and vegetables right up the food ranks.

The report, “Global Market Study on Frozen Fruits: Upsurge in Demand from Industrial Customers to Drive Market Growth over the Forecast Period 2016-2022,” shows a similar forecast for the global frozen fruit market alone, projecting annual growth at 5.32% by 2022.

The demand for frozen fruits like tropical fruits and citrus fruits, red fruits, kiwi, apricots and berries will be higher than others, the report says, as a result of them being used as inclusions in baked goods, dairy products and confectionery items.

In the frozen vegetable segments, spinach and legumes will see substantial growth due to the rise in demand for ready-to-eat foods.

New freezing technologies like individual-quick freezing (IQF) have further enhanced the concept of frozen foods for today’s consumers. Also, key factors like environmental sustainability of organic products, innovative packaging and storage methods are influencing buyer decisions.

Read on to find out today’s Top 25 frozen fruit and vegetable processors fare in the industry.

Changes from last year’s report

  • Added Wyman’s of Maine.
  • Removed Blencor, LLC.

Significant events in 2016

  • Superior Foods, Watsonville, Calif., announced a joint venture with Magic Valley Frozen Foods, McAllen Texas, to create a wider range of products with the benefits of geographic diversification.
  • ConAgra Foods, Chicago, completed the separation of its Lamb Weston business, thus making the name change to Conagra Brands, Inc.
  • Glen Tellock, former chairman, president and CEO of Lakeside Foods, Manitowoc, Wis., took over for Dave Yanda, former president and CEO, who announced his retirement, effective May 30, 2016.
  • Pinnacle Foods Inc., Parsippany, N.J., reorganized its reporting structure and its reportable segments, as a result of its Boulder Brands acquisition.

Significant events still to come in 2017

  • General Mills, Minneapolis, announced plans to restructure the company to maximize global scale, and plans to more than double the organic acreage from which it sources ingredients to meet its goal of 250,000 acres by 2019.
  • Inn Foods, Watsonville, Calif., announced plans to install new scales and baggers to pack Doy bags and other bag formats.
  • Smith Frozen Foods announced plans to open a new repack facility for its IQF vegetables.
  • Inventure Foods, Inc., Phoenix, Ariz., announced plans to add a second manufacturing site to its existing IQF berry processing and packaging facility in Lynden, Wash.