Food brands expanding their range of frozen food products

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FMCG companies are looking beyond traditional frozen foods and are experimenting with newer ready-to-eat products in an attempt to diversify and make themselves more appealing to consumers for whom elaborate cooking is not always an option and prefer a quick heat-and-eat style. The frozen food industry, which started by offering basic frozen vegetables and fries, today offers a wide range of products, from fruits, vegetables and frozen meats to snacking and full meal options. Companies such as Sumeru Foods, ITC and even Amul are trying to push the boundaries and also trying to convince consumers that frozen food is not less healthy than products that are touted as “fresh.”

“The route for growth in this segment is to make customers think otherwise,” said Mithun Appaiah, chief executive of Sumeru Foods. The company has tied up with Alfred Prasad, the youngest Indian chef to get a Michelin star, to launch a range of products in chicken kebabs, paneer and French fries curated by him, under the Classiques brand. It has also launched parathas – not just the traditional onion and aloo ones, but also ajwain, methi and jeera parathas.

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Appaiah said the company is trying to break the notion that that frozen foods are loaded with preservatives. The company says it uses an advanced IQF (individual quick freezing) technology that locks nutrition and preserves the natural taste and texture of products. The science of preservation is to store food below 0-degree fahrenheit, which makes bacteria inactive, preventing decay. Sumeru is also set to launch frozen khichdi, rolls and desserts in the next few months. Consumer goods behemoth ITC entered the frozen foods and snacks segment last year. It started by selling frozen prawns under the MasterChef brand and expanded to fried potatoes, chicken products, falafel, batata vada, pizza pockets, chicken keema patties. S Sivakumar, group head, agri business, ITC, said they will expand the category to kebabs, curries and breads and ensure the consumers see the category as more healthy and nutritious by offering bake-able, air-friable, and microwave-able products.

It has plans to follow it up with low-sugar potatoes and dried onions and mango pulp which can be added to icecream and lassi. Amul entered this market earlier this year with its Happy Treats brand to provide six varieties in the frozen potato snacks category, including aloo tikki, french fries, potato wedges and veggie stix. Sumeru’s Appaiah said that companies are investing heavily in their cold storage facilities to expand the frozen food business. ITC said it is increasing the quality frozen space available at retail stores through investment in freezers, as also in digitalising the cold chain to ensure right storage conditions all through the network. “A thing to notice is that the freezing section in refrigerators at homes have grown bigger over the years which shows people are not averse to eating frozen stuff as before,” Appaiah said.

Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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