New research finds that more than 90% of foodservice operators use frozen foods in their menus, with the healthcare, convenience store and fast casual categories reporting the greatest increase in use since 2019. Operators report that frozen foods offer solutions to many of the operational challenges they face in light of the ongoing supply chain and labor market disruptions.

Commissioned by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and conducted by Technomic Inc., the second edition of the Power of Frozen in Foodservice research sought to understand operator attitudes and uses of frozen foods. Technomic issued qualitative and quantitative surveys among more than 350 operators from across 10 segments.

Forty percent of foodservice operators surveyed reported purchasing more frozen foods than they did in 2019, and more than 50% indicated they are using as much as before. Overall frozen food use in foodservice is high and a large majority of operators report purchasing frozen vegetables (83% of operators), potato products (78%) and fruits (76%). The fastest-growing frozen products that operators purchased were appetizers (75% of operators indicated increased purchases since 2019), seafood (55%) and vegetables (53%).

The Power of Frozen in Foodservice also revealed that frozen foods are impactful in managing market challenges facing foodservice operators. Survey respondents reported operational efficiencies, supply chain and product availability, and labor as among the top issues for their businesses. At the same time, operators identified year-round availability, longer shelf life, product consistency and ease of preparation as some of the key benefits of frozen foods. Eighty-four percent of operators agreed that frozen foods also produce less waste, which can support sustainability and cost-savings.

Research also found that consumers consider it highly acceptable to use frozen ingredients, creating a win-win for both the operator and their customer. As operators work to meet future demands such as authentic flavors and taste, frozen innovations and growth in products such as appetizers and ethnic meals offer new options.