“The expansion of the Bowls line was a great opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for frozen foods. Consumers are looking for flavorful, convenient heat-and-eat options that provide a more complete meal.”Jennifer Barnes, vice president and general manager at Sweet Earth Foods, told FoodNavigator-USA.
According to Barnes, Sweet Earth’s appetizers are the largest product line for the brand, hitting double digits in the past 52 weeks.
“Bowls have been a staple in the brand for years and are closely aligned with our mission to provide healthy and delicious options that make it easy for consumers to eat plant-based,”she said.
‘Supermarkets fill shelves with globally inspired dishes and ingredients’
The newest varieties of frozen entrees – Korean BBQ style Chik’n Entrée Bowl and Cacio e Pepe – are the latest globally inspired flavors for the Sweet Earth brand, which has had great success with other international flavors in its portfolio, such as the offering of General Tso Bowl and Curry Tiger Bowl, both of which have become top consumer favorites according to Barnes.
“In recent years, international flavors have become more popular and grocers are filling the shelves with globally inspired dishes and ingredients. Cacio e Pepe and Korean BBQ are two dishes that are in high demand, and they are gaining traction on restaurant menus, social media and among the gourmets,”said Barnes.
“Sweet Earth is expanding our line of frozen dishes in response to the continued growth in consumer demand for frozen meals that meet these interests.”
According to Datassentials data as of June 2021, consumption of Cacio e Pepe in restaurants has grown by more than 35% and Korean barbecue is one of the best Korean dishes consumed in the US.
Like its other plant-based bowl offerings, the Korean BBQ-Style Chik’n Entrée Bowl and Cacio e Pepe both feature plant-based ingredients such as gluten-free chickpea pasta and Parmesan cheese made from cashews mixed with whole vegetables.
Both entree dishes are available at select Target locations nationwide with a suggested retail price of $4.99. The Sweet Earth Korean BBQ-Style Chik’n entree bowl will also be available this month at select Meijer, HEB and Giant Food stores nationwide, with increased availability in the coming weeks.
What is driving demand in the frozen food aisle?
According to the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), the frozen food aisle has been a growth driver for retailers since 2016, with its value gaining traction over the past two years.
Frozen food sales grew 21% in 2020 from 2019, with nearly all types of frozen food posting double-digit gains. Demand continued into 2021 as frozen food sales remained 21% above pre-pandemic levels in 2019, AFFI noted.
‘People are leaning towards plant-based versions of the flavorful and comforting recipes they love’
Plant-based options within the frozen food aisle continue to be a huge draw for consumers looking to reduce their meat intake, said Barnes, noting how the brand sees consistent and strong demand for all of its products, from plant-based bacon to bowls, and especially for its plant-based products. Chik’n made from a soy protein concentrate.
“Sweet Earth continues on social media and response from our consumers sees people gravitating towards plant-based versions of the flavorful and comforting recipes they love. This preference at Sweet Earth gives us room for more innovation as we prioritize creating a variety of flavorful dishes that we know consumers will appreciate for a variety of occasions,”she said.
“In addition, Nestlé USA has reported that 69% of people are looking for nutritious frozen meals. Sweet Earth is innovating in spaces, such as the freezer aisle, to offer consumers more plant-based, delicious options that match the flavor profiles of prepared frozen foods.”
“We believe the future for plant-based meats remains bright. It is clear that consumer interest in healthier, environmentally friendly foods will continue to grow,Barnes added.