Indeed, according to Protéines XTC's 2019 Global Innovation Report, this category is the second most innovative in the world, after soft drinks. A total of 6.9% of food innovations occur in the savoury frozen food sector.
North America is the most dynamic in this regard. In the region, savoury frozen food is the most innovative branch in the food industry. Also according to Protéines XTC, savoury frozen foods alone accounted for 10.7% of all food innovations in 2018.
In Asia, too, a breeze of innovation is blowing through frozen savoury products. The category is the third most innovative, with 6.5% of total food innovations - the same score as in Europe - behind soft drinks and aperitif products.
Convenience and time saving
One of the advantages of frozen food is that it saves people time. With the minimum of effort, the consumer can reheat ready-made products or those that are at least pre-sliced or portioned and designed for long storage periods.
Some manufacturers take this advantage even further. This is the case for example in recent years with vegetables that come in the form of nuggets. This format is widely used for baby food purees but also exists elsewhere.
Recently, the Canadian firm Arctic Gardens brought out a range of ‘pulse dips’ in three flavours: red pepper, spinach and south-west style. Served as an aperitif, these pre-portioned vegetable nuggets allow the consumer to only defrost the desired quantity and reheat it in a few minutes in the microwave.
Another example: offering two dishes in one in a single frozen and microwaveable container. This is what the Spanish firm Virto Group has invented with its product christened B-Quick. The concept is a pair of frozen salads containing pulses, cereals and fruit for a comprehensive meal.
Varieties of flavours for additional enjoyment
While vegetables top the list of frozen food products consumed worldwide with nearly 8.5 million tonnes sold in 2018, ready meals are next on the list, with approximately 5 million tonnes.
In France - the world's second biggest consumer after the United States - they represented an impressive €5 billion of sales in 2019. To continue to attract all these consumers, professionals in the sector are banking on innovation.
Starting with the renewal of flavours. Bringing new tastes to the table makes it possible to vary the pleasures and thus attract consumers in search of something new. For example, the tahini-filled falafel balls from Hamim Vetaim, the breaded guacamole bites with cheese and cream from Salud Foodgroup Europe or the 18-month aged cheese ice cream from AB Klaipedos Pienas and Dione.
In the United States, the cauliflower craze is huge: cauliflower is used as a basic ingredient everywhere, in pie dough for example. As a result, this vegetable is the starting point for many product innovations, including in the world of frozen foods. The American Trader Joe's, for example, has brought out its frozen cauliflower dumplings, made from 75% cauliflower, without sugar, wheat, dairy products or eggs. Meanwhile, Wegmans Organic has launched organic cauliflower crumbled like frozen rice.
Organic and the environment
The frozen-food department is no exception to the growing trend among consumers to be more environmentally friendly by reducing the carbon footprint of products consumed.
The first area of innovation in this regard is designing cleaner packaging. In Italy, Rolli offers its frozen vegetables from an eco-friendly supply chain in a biodegradable paper bag. No more plastic. Its vegetables are also guaranteed free of pesticide residues, a plus for the most vigilant consumers. Spotted by the 2018 SIAL Paris Innovation Observatory, its products won the silver medal.
Another strong trend is the use of vegetables to replace products of animal origin. In the frozen desserts section, there is a vegan coconut milk ice cream at Intermarché, another made from rice (without GMOs, gluten or lactose) from Italy's EDO SpA, and a third offered by Spain's Green! Dalate from Spain, and yet another from the Austrian firm Joya. All these vegan ice creams were selected by the SIAL Innovation Observatory for their plant-based ranges.
Plant matter also replaces frozen meat, as in this soy steak from Primel Gastronomie, which has all the qualities of a beef steak but without the meat. The same goes for Beyond Meat, one of the world leaders in vegetable meat, with its product The Beyond Burger, which can be grilled or pan-fried.
Organic is also making a noticeable breakthrough in frozen products, both sweet and savoury. Proof of this is the organic baby fruit puree from Youji SAS or the frozen organic vegetable spaghetti from the Italian company Rolli. These two innovative products were spotted at SIAL Paris 2018.