For years, the frozen department was that section of the grocery store plagued by TV dinners, frosted glass that you couldn’t see through and very limited innovation. But, recently, there has been a revolution that is putting frozen back on the map. Educating consumers and motivating them to reconsider frozen has been on the minds of many retailers. And, it all starts with private brands.

In fact, private brand frozen sales are growing four times faster than overall frozen department sales, as retailers tap into three major trends to provide bold innovation that has consumers more engaged in frozen than ever before.


Progressive plant-powered solutions are emerging as key drivers of private brand innovation in frozen to address growing interest in cleaner, health-forward products. For example, broccoli and kale are replacing wheat in pizza crusts to offer consumers new ways to minimize their carb intake while enhancing nutritional value. Cauliflower is becoming the new base for stuffing to offer indulgence without the “guilt.”

For busy parents struggling to come up with healthier meals for their kids, veggie noodle dishes and veggie tots are emerging as better-for-you alternatives. Even ice cream and ice pops are sneaking in vegetables to help consumers get their recommended dietary allowance in a fun and enjoyable way.

Expect to see private brands launch further innovative, plant-centric solutions in the frozen department to fuel continued growth. 

Convenience redefined

More than ever, today’s on-the-go commuting culture is in need of shortcuts and new products that are conducive to time-constrained lifestyles and transient behavior. As a result, consumers seek innovation that balances convenience and reliability in a seamless way to simplify consumption and usage.

Private brands are addressing this challenge in new ways in frozen by offering convenient and creative solves for meal and snacking occasions throughout the day. Kits in particular have emerged as a go-to format, with new private brand options spanning dayparts. Wellness-curated lines of smoothie kits, bone broth soup kits and create-your-own dessert kits are examples of products emerging to enhance convenience around new styles of eating. Even frozen dinner solutions are being reimagined to think “outside the microwave box” through a culinary-forward lens, such as slow cooker, sheet pan and skillet meal kits.

Private brands will continue innovating along these lines by cross-pollinating ideas across categories to create new frozen solutions that better cater to the needs of today’s always-on shopper.  

Flavor exploration

Consumer desire for flavor discovery is driving interest in new frozen products that leverage aromatics, global flavors and unexpected combinations to create more unique and dynamic taste experiences. In turn, retailers are embracing bolder and more exclusive flavors in private brands to surprise and delight shoppers, while better differentiating their frozen assortments.

Unexpected flavors such as chicken shawarma pizza, butter chicken spring rolls, halloumi fries and pakora-breaded chicken strips allow consumers to experiment with new cuisines through more approachable formats. Indulgence, particularly ice cream, has also been on the leading edge of bringing forth new flavor experiences by taking inspiration from other categories. Think spirit infusions like cherry bourbon, global spices such as Indian cardamom pistachio and botanicals like lavender honey. Expect to see further private brand innovation that ups the ante on flavor exploration to encourage continued engagement in frozen.  

So, what’s next?

Frozen purchases are motivated by convenience, cravings and creativity. Driving sustainable growth will require maintaining a close pulse on the consumer and being agile in innovating in private brands to address ever-evolving wants and needs. Consumer desire for cleaner and healthier products that limit their impact on the planet will continue to shape innovation. Changing definitions of eating occasions will further blur lines between dayparts and inspire new products, as entrées, snacks, breakfast, appetizers, side dishes and indulgence become interchangeable and suitable anytime.

What’s more, the global pantry will continue to expand its influence on private brand innovation in frozen, bringing forth unexpected combinations that balance health and indulgence in an approachable way, while satisfying interest for flavor discovery. Together, this dynamic trio of plant-centric, convenience-conscious and flavor-forward private brand solutions will fuel ongoing momentum in the frozen department.