NEW YORK - Long thought to be the backup option, the Plan B, or the rainy-day staple, frozen foods are taking their place center plate and having a major moment brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Frozen foods have proven to be no-fuss items that are quick to get on the table. They're affordable options that last a long time. And they can be healthy alternatives, especially when other options don't exist. That might be why at the beginning of the pandemic, some frozen foods were so tough to get.
"All the things we took for granted that would be always available, all of a sudden you'd get either sold out if you tried to buy them online or when you got to the supermarket there was just nothing there," Levine said.
A survey by the American Frozen Food Institute showed that 86% of respondents said they have purchased frozen foods since early March; 7% did not rely on frozen food pre-pandemic. Frozen foods generated nearly $1.3 billion in sales the week of June 7, 2020 — $215 million more than the comparable week in 2019.
Among the largest frozen-food categories today are dinners and entrees, ice cream, pizza, seafood, and plain vegetables. And then there's the idea of the stay-at-home orders forcing people to cook.
Levine said the "billion-dollar question" is if this pandemic trend will change the way we prepare food for the table and what we serve our families.
"We don't know what's going to happen on the other side of this," he said.
Another upside may be less food waste. Freezing means cooking what you need without fear that the food will spoil.