According to a May 2nd, 2018 NPR report, frozen food sales in the U.S. have been on the decline in recent years, despite being a whopping $53 billion-a-year industry. Shockingly, this massive number only accounts for 6% of total grocery store sales. It seems that many customers are reaching for fresh foods over frozen. But fan favorite food shop Trader Joe’s might have hacked the system. Thanks to their sneaky design trick, “sales of our frozen products are doing great,” the brand’s public relations director Kenya Friend-Daniel told NPR.
So, what’s their secret? Trader Joe’s has designed a more enjoyable way to shop for frozen goods. Traditional grocery stores employ the use of glass-doored refrigeration systems, which literally “creates a fence” between the food and the consumers, Phil Lempert from supermarketguru.com told NPR.
But Trader Joe’s uses “coffin cases,” which are refrigeration units that remain open and allow customers to dig around and search for goodies.
“It’s fun to go through that case to see what you’re going to find,” Lempert said. NPR noted that Lempert compared shopping in the Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle to the experience you have while shopping for fresh produce. TJ’s is kind of tricking us — but in a way we really don’t mind.
Plus, it helps that Trader Joe’s has an incredibly delicious array of frozen goodies available. You’ve tried the Farfalle with 4 Cheese & Spinach, right?
Lempert explains that there are other issues within the frozen food industry that play into the decline in sales — predictable packaging designs being one of them. And having to face arctic temperatures while grocery shopping is never something customers want to deal with.
But he says if other grocery chains begin making the experience more fun — like Trader Joe’s has — the frozen food industry could enter into a renaissance.
Keep up your sneaky ways, Trader Joe’s. We enjoy the frozen food hunt — and also boxes on boxes of chicken tikka masala.
If you’re constantly on the hunt for Trader Joe’s tips and tricks, we highly recommend that you check our their podcast, Inside Trader Joe’s. It will make you look at the grocery store like you never have before.