Frozen: the rise of low-calorie ready meals

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Frozen foods are enjoying something of a renaissance. No longer relegated to the bargain basement, consumers are waking up to the fact that frozen foods are in some instances fresher than fresh produce, extremely convenient and a great way to prevent food waste, which has proved particularly attractive to millennial shoppers. With growth of 3.2%, including ice cream and ready meals (according to The Grocer), manufacturers are eager to take advantage of frozen.

Premium products

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With improved production techniques and premiumisation of frozen ready meals, items from the frozen aisle are top of many consumers shopping list. Frozen ready meals can be a great way to preserve the all-important authenticity that consumers value and the fact that frozen food also tends to be less processed and contain fewer additives than chilled products appeals to many shoppers.

Healthier variants are key in many manufacturers’ portfolios. The value of low-calorie frozen meal market has increased by 5.6% according to Kantar Worldpanel [52 w/e 15 July 2018], helped by an 11.3% increase in penetration as consumers gain awareness of these products. Consumers aren’t put off by price in this category either – the average price per pack has increased 5.5% and the number of own label products competing with the more established branded products is growing.

Slimming World was the first of the new low-calorie ready meals. Sales of the Iceland-exclusive products have grown exponentially since their introduction in 2015, accounting for over half (50.3%) of own brand sales in the frozen low-calorie meals market. The Grocer cites that this success is down to an “innovative approach” – targeting recipes as diverse as Moroccan meatball stew and Chip Shop curry sauce, as well as new world recipes. Many other retailers and manufacturers want to cash in on the success of the Slimming World products and it is possible with the right technology.

Freezing in the flavour

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From frozen pizzas to frozen ready meals, Steam Infusion can offer benefits across the board. Our development team can help manufacturers to successfully create and optimise sauces to be included in a frozen ready meal range. The Steam Infusion Vaction™ unit technology is scientifically proven to preserve fresher, cleaner flavours and offer unparalleled cook times and processing efficiency. The boosted flavour profile also offers the potential to reduce flavour enhancers, such as salt.

Steam Infusion cooking technology is ideal for creating authentic flavours that consumers will love. The Vaction™ Pump can heat 500kg to 90°C in under 10 minutes. The quick cooking time allows you to retain the bright, glossy colour and intense flavour profile of your ingredients so your frozen ready meals have a homemade taste to appeal to consumer preferences.

The high-speed controllable mixing environment achieves a homogenising effect, allowing you to create a fat mimetic, achieving a creamier taste for ready meal sauces without the extra calories. What’s more, there is no burn-on in the sauces as the product is not exposed to excessive temperatures, which further enhances the presentation, as well as offering shorter cleaning times.

When it comes to ethnic frozen ready meals, Steam Infusion can achieve up to a 7% reduction in spices compared to traditional steam jacketed cook as the process locks in flavour to deliver enhanced flavour profiles, including the volatile top-notes, helping manufacturers to save money.

If you’re looking to diversify your ready meal portfolio by dipping your toe into the freezer, speak to us today. We’ll guide you along to journey and help you to deliver low-calorie frozen ready meals that fly off the shelf.