Frozens merchandisers are in the midst of enjoying a strong wintertime spike in frozen vegetable sales.
The frozen items are gaining because some consumers are trying to avoid seasonally higher prices on fresh vegetables, retailers told SN.
In addition, holiday meal preparations routinely prompt shoppers to load up on frozen vegetables. While a degree of sales gain is typical for this time of year, some retailers reported sales looking even better than usual so far.
John Post, a buyer at Dave's Markets, Cridersville, Ohio, said he has noticed particularly strong sales in broccoli and cauliflower.
"This time of year it's always tough to get fresh broccoli and cauliflower anyway," he said. "It's higher than hell right now. You can't put it in the [produce] aisle because you can't even get enough to make your trays and stuff with. It's way high now, about $2.99 a bunch."
Post said he's taking advantage of that by promoting the items often in frozens.
"Whenever we run a buy-one-get-one-free ad -- and I do run one every month -- the No. 1 item is always broccoli cuts. I would have never guessed that. The last three BOGOs it's been the No. 1 item. That's a shocker to me. It's almost astounding as far as I'm concerned. "I've noticed that in between that time the sales have picked up in broccoli. Frozen broccoli is becoming a bigger item than most people realize. At the same time you sell the cheese and every thing that goes along with it. It's a hell of an item right now."
Sue Onufrak, frozen food buyer at King Kullen Grocery Co., Westbury, N.Y., has also used the opportunity to promote her store brand.
"I have been advertising, especially private label. I try to advertise private-label vegetables in
the ad every week to keep those items in the consumers' view all the time, so they know that yes, we have private-label vegetables. I happen to be very proud of the quality of our private-label vegetables, so it's something that I personally like to advertise," she said.
"Frozen spinach is really selling well. My numbers are way up over last year on spinach, as well as on broccoli and cauliflower."
Pete Marino, frozen-food buyer for Genuardi Super Markets, Norristown, Pa., said the entire vegetable category is up. "Of course, over the holidays it always does really well. Broccoli is the No. 1 selling vegetable in the case -- in our cases anyway -- all the time, day in and day out, not just around the holidays."
Dave Roth, frozen-food buyer for Holiday Cos., Bloomington, Minn., said the weather often plays a role in vegetable prices and sales.
"A year or so ago, the weather of 1993 affected the corn, peas and mixed vegetable prices and they went way up," he said. "Then the reverse happened this year. They had a bumper crop, so the prices have come down on corn."