From potatoes and soups to pasta and dips, the variety of frozen side dishes available at your local grocer are vast. Consumers looking to add convenience to their meal prepping, without sacrificing on taste or nutritional value, are increasingly turning to the freezer section. Retailers and brands are transforming the way consumers view frozen foods, with increased health claims, new flavors, and a focus on offering fresher, less processed foods.

Recently, side dishes have been a champion within the frozen food category, contributing the biggest segment growth between 2013-2018. While frozen meal growth has remained relatively stagnant, consumers are flocking to new veggie-based products and health-conscious sides. Mintel reports that one of the strongest segment performers from 2017-2018 was veggie sides that were prepared to be low/no-carb replacements for traditional starches like rice and pasta.

Which demographic is driving the surge in frozen side dish sales? “Adults aged 18-34 represent an important target for the prepared meals category. Young adults are especially more likely to have purchased frozen side dishes,” reports Mintel.  

Manufacturers are targeting health-conscious consumers with increased product launches with a healthy claim. According to Mintel, from 2017-2019, the percentage of product launches with a “No Additives / Preservatives” claim saw a 25% increase. Interestingly, the percentage of launches with an “Ease of Use” claim saw a 41% spike over the same period. This tells us that not only are consumers looking for healthy alternatives within the frozen food category, they’re also looking for convenience.