Major packaged foods companies are facing a crisis in the frozen foods aisle.
As people become increasingly concerned with healthy eating, frozen vegetables and prepackaged meals have taken a hit because consumers perceive them as being less fresh than their non-frozen counterparts.
U.S. sales of frozen meals fell 3% between 2009 and 2013, with an additional 2% decline forecasted for 2014, the Associated Press reported in April.
Now, major players like ConAgra Foods, General Mills, and Kellogg’s have come together to combat the image problem that’s taking a bite out of the $US70 billion frozen foods industry.
A trade group they formed, called the The American Frozen Food Institute, has launched a new website and a television campaign aimed at convincing consumers that frozen foods are every bit as fresh as the meals they would find in a restaurant or prepare in their own kitchens.
The campaign’s tagline, “How Fresh Stays Fresh,” pitches the idea that freezing foods is “nature’s pause button,” which allows the companies to keep foods at peak freshness until the moment customers are ready to eat them.
The group’s claims are based in large part on a study commissioned by its affiliate nonprofit research group, the Frozen Food Foundation. The study found that most frozen produce has as many nutrients as fresh produce, with some of the frozen fruits and vegetables having more nutrients than those stored in a refrigerator for five days.
While the process of freezing foods might not make them less healthy, many of the meals found on the frozen aisle are unhealthy nonetheless due to the quality of the ingredients being frozen.
The American Diabetes Organisation warns that many of these meals are high in calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates, and recommends looking at the nutrition label before purchase.
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