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Lowfat, low cholesterol frozen dinners and entrees.

According to Peter J. Allen, Vice President of Find/SVP, the market increase is the result of "an interaction of technological and societal change."

His thesis is that the demand for lowfat, low-cholesterol dinners and entrees has more than doubled in the past six years because of the increased number of working women, who are microwaving at home because they have little time to cook.

But he also projects that future market growth will be due to newly weight-conscious men, commenting - "Now that there is no more little wife stolidly waiting at home, men have begun to feel they must be as fit as their spouse, in order to keep the home fires burning.

The market for lowfat, low-cholesterol frozen dinners and entrees grew 73.5% over the past six years, according to a new study by Find/SVP, the New York-based research firm. During that growth spurt, the compound annual growth totalled 11.7% and retail sales climbed from $0.85 billion in 1986 to an estimated $1,475 billion in 1991.

The growth of lowfat, low-cholesterol products is all the more remarkable when it is compared to the lackluster performance of the estimated $5.155 billion total market for frozen dinners and entrees. From 1986 to 1991, its compound annual growth rate was a weak 5.3%.

And the future holds an even more dramatic contrast, according to Find/SVP. From 1991 through 1996, compound annual growth for the total market is projected at only 3.8%, whereas the forecast compound annual growth rate for the lowfat, low-cholesterol segment is almost three times as strong at 10.5%. This should send total dinner and entree sales to the $6.210 billion mark by 1996, and lowfat, low-cholesterol products to $2.425 billion in the same period.

Analyzing the situation, Find/SVP Vice President Peter J. Allen notes, "It's obvious from the numbers that the only significant growth in the frozen dinner and entree category is from the lowfat, low-cholesterol segment. And it's no wonder. Many frozen dinners and entrees are direct descendants of the Swanson T.V. dinners that were introduced in 1953, and American tastebuds have changed a lot since then."

In those halcyon days, Mom would serve up frozen dinners as the family gathered round to watch Uncle Milty or, on occasion, while the kids were watching Captain Video, waiting for the babysitter to arrive. And though it's been a scant two generations, it is doubtful that even futuristic types such as Captain Video could have foreseen the direction that frozen dining would take. But as Mr. Allen points out, "Of course, Captain Video didn't have a microwave. And nowadays, Mom's not home with the kiddies and for that matter, maybe she's not even a mom."

According to Mr. Allen, the success of lowfat, low-cholesterol frozen dinners and entrees today is due in large part to the new role of women (i.e., their increasing numbers in the workforce and the relatively late age of child-bearing). Commenting on the proliferation of working women and microwave ovens, Mr. Allen notes, "It's the classic case of an interaction of technological and societal change. As more women work, most households are left without a full-time homemaker, thus insuring that whoever is preparing the evening meal will not be in the mood to whip up a seven-course supper. This creates a demand for prepared frozen food. And, as women have long placed a high priority on watching their figures, that insures that much of that demand will be funnelled towards the lowfat, low-cholesterol segment."

But post-yuppie men are also becoming aware of their health and weight, and Mr. Allen is expecting this development to be a significant growth factor. "Men are becoming more weight conscious," he believes, "primarily because of health reasons. But I suspect, secondarily, it is related to the new role of women. Now that there is no more little wife stolidly waiting at home, men have begun to feel they must be as fit as their spouse, in order to keep the home fires burning."
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Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Previous Article:The Rosenberger story.
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