Frozen veggies are as healthy — if not moreso — as fresh-stored ones, a new two-year study conducted by the University of Georgia in partnership with the Frozen Food Foundation shows.
The study mimicked typical purchasing and storage patterns of blueberries, strawberries, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, green peas and spinach. They were analyzed for nutritional value as they were fresh-bought from the grocery store, after five days storage in the refrigerator, and as frozen.
Scientists found the amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates of some frozen fruits and vegetables were greater than the fresh-stored produce.
One of the greatest advances in farming and food preservation was when a few long-forgotten pioneers came up with the idea of moving fresh peas and similar field crops directly to from the field to a freezing facility, losing as little as possible of the freshness before the product was ready to be presented to the consumer.
Clarence Birdseye's advances in this area almost a century ago have long been less than suitably recognized. Today's “flash freezing” techniques help consumers enjoy fresher and fresher food from an ever-increasing assortment of sources, than anyone could have imagined even a decade ago.
But frozen food has suffered from an image problem recently. Many consumers think that frozen foods — ranging from pizza to broccoli — are more processed and less healthy. And even though 75% of U.S. households report using frozen vegetables, according to a report from Packaged Facts, frozen foods saw sales of $22 billion in 2016 — nearly identical to 2012.
On the other hand, fresh fruits and vegetables sold on the store's perimeter have been surging. According to figures from IRI, produce has posted $62.5 billion in sales in the last four years, and drove store perimeter sales growth to be 3.8%.
Frozen food manufacturers should work to tout these study results and let consumers know that frozen fruits and vegetables are both convenient and healthy.
Things are moving in that direction, with frozen veggie stalwart brand Green Giant driving sales of its parent company B&G Foods. Additionally, new frozen vegetable-based products that range from veggie tots to cauliflower-crust pizza are being developed and gaining in popularity among consumers.