It’s getting colder out, but you knew that already. So, as you don your parka, when you might once have used a windbreaker, we venture out to do one of the most human things we’ve come to know: get all our groceries in one swoop from the store!
Now, you may have a specific diet, you may be a super-foodie, or a junk-food-junkie(may Larry Groce have mercy on you)! Either way, we’re going to set out to get a balanced list of beverages, meats, grains, vegetables, nuts, and fruits. Maybe, you’ve noticed something a bit different this year? Fruits(among many other commodities) have gone up in price, year over year for decades. In this particular day and age, we’re also mixing in supply chain disruption, tougher seasons on our farmers, and an ever-increasing demand for healthier foods. According to the USDA, the top six fruits per price by weight are blackberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots, and strawberries. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on strawberries, as they meet the lowest price point and among the others aforementioned on this list, are the most commonly consumed by consumers and businesses.
But, what does it look like when you get to the store? In my personal experience, I couldn’t find strawberries anywhere at my local grocer for weeks. But, I found a quick fix that has become a staple for my household: frozen strawberries(and pretty much anything else I wanted to grab that I couldn’t find fresh). In fact, they had access to fruits that are almost never available fresh such as papaya, dragon fruit, passionfruit, acai berries, and much more!
Frozen fruit always comes in at a much more affordable price than its fresh counterparts. After taking my bag of frozen berries home, I discovered a second surprise: beautiful, vibrant, deep red, and delicious strawberries! It took some time to get used to thawing them out, but nine times out of ten, I have a superb batch of strawberries.
Frozen foods get a bad reputation for being processed; possibly having ingredients along the lines of “unnatural”. Throw this bias right out of the window! “Scientists from Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester, carried out 40 tests to measure nutrient levels in produce that had been sitting in a fridge for three days, compared to frozen equivalents. They found more beneficial nutrients overall in the frozen samples”. You may find this hard to believe, based on everything we’ve been taught growing up.
There’s a pretty big factor that comes into play for frozen fruit, that fresh fruit just can’t match! Here at the Allen Lund Company, we haul fresh produce daily, on tight schedules. Produce growers and farmers often pick fruit just before it’s ripe, to time it to ripen perfectly for delivery and consumption. The harvest comes in, then the clock starts counting down. If the produce doesn’t get from A to B in a certain amount of time, it’s likely going to be unfit to sell. So, eventually, a way around this schedule crunch was found: blast/instant quick-freezing fruits and vegetables. What’s the benefit you ask? Well, the freezing has a bit of a better schedule. Frozen fruits are picked at optimal ripeness and frozen immediately to preserve peak nutrition, flavor, and shelf life.
Having the ability to keep products at the perfect quality for double, triple, or greater shelf life allows growers to open a market for year-round sales, both in season and out of season. Consumers see huge savings on purchasing these goods, but where it really comes into play is supply chain management. Plus, keeping a bag or two of frozen goodies in the freezer comes into play for when you take a nasty spill on the way to the office!
More and more investments have been made in efforts to perfect packaging, create/lease cold storage centers, and erase supply gaps during off seasons for businesses. The proof is in the pudding, or should I say, the sorbet. Studies show that the Global Frozen Fruit market is a $4.65-billion-dollar industry, expected to grow at 1-2% annually CAGR to reach a peak of $5 billion dollars in 2026.
Consumers are steadily following this trend as their purchases shift. Many trade shows now include frozen goods being marketed, displayed, and packaged. Every year as the category expands, growers are getting better, and better at retaining color, nutrients, taste, and lower prices.
The next time you’re hankering for some produce and feeling adventurous, check out the frozen section. You’ll find that no matter what time of the year, you’ll always be able to afford juicy, nutritious, and gorgeous strawberries.