According to a report published by the American Frozen Food Institute, 29% of US households expanded their freezer capacity during the pandemic. Retail frozen food sales in the US increased by 37% between 2018 and 2022, according to the same report, and continue to outpace the pre-pandemic year of 2019 in 2023.
The onset of 40-year high inflation is also contributing to the desire of Americans to eat more at home. Cold-chain specialist RLS Logistics noted that inflation has led “consumers to stocking up on items out of concern for pricing rising.” This includes 42% of shoppers.
“For manufacturers, this could shift the just-in-time mindset to a safety stock approach,” said the RSL report, “causing additional demand for inventories.” But, at the same time, “cold storage warehousing capacity remains tight nationally” and is getting tighter, thanks to “inventory levels rising and turns to decrease” and “many manufacturers increasing production output.”
In the northeast US, the most densely populated region in the country, “there is tremendous demand,” said Neil Johnson, CEO of Provender Partners, a cold-chain investor and operator, but “there is virtually no available freezer space.”