- Online grocer Thrive Market is entering the frozen category with a line of paleo and plant-based meals, the retailer told Grocery Dive. The single-serve frozen bowls and skillets are available for $99.99 per bundle of 10.
- Thrive's private label Bowls + Skillets are targeted for specific diets like Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan. The meals are free of refined sugars and soy and made with organic ingredients that are non-GMO and preservative-free.
- There are 11 Bowls + Skillet varieties available for purchase, including dijon chicken, chicken and veggies, chicken pesto, chicken panang curry, beef and mushrooms and a beef and veggies bowl. Thrive is also exclusively offering Primal Kitchen’s frozen meals including chicken fried rice and cauliflower skillet, and steak fajitas skillet.
Like many other online grocers, Thrive Market has seen a surge in new shoppers and higher demand from existing ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To serve its growing audience and keep customers long-term, the company is moving into some frozen food categories where sales are hot.
Overall demand for frozen foods has shot up in recent months. The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) found that seven out of 10 frozen food shoppers have increased the amount they purchase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. After an initial 94% spike in sales in March, the category still saw increases of about 30% in April.
The AFFI survey found that 7% of shoppers that rarely or never purchased frozen foods prior to the pandemic have started buying frozen. Half of those surveyed by AFFI who have bought frozen foods since the onset of coronavirus said they will increase their purchase of frozen meals at least somewhat over the coming months.
The thaw in frozen isn't a new development. Category sales growth has outpaced fresh departments in recent years, driven by an uptick in inventive new dishes and innovations that have ushered in novel ingredients and made preparation easier. In its announcement, Thrive noted the category’s market size is expected to reach $320 billion by 2026 with compound annual growth rate of 4.6%.
To add variety to its frozen selections, Thrive noted it will source several meals from Kraft Heinz-owned Primal Kitchen, which launched its frozen line back in March. Selections include a steak fajitas skillet and chicken pesto bowl.
By making its frozen products paleo and plant-based, Thrive is hewing to its health-focused business strategy. The company ships to customers throughout the continental U.S., typically in three days or less, and has been building out its selection of private label offerings in an effort to distinguish itself from specialty chains like Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market.