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TheStreet Open House

Healthy Choice And Marie Callender's Predict The Future Of Shopping For Frozen Food

Stocks in this article: CAG

OMAHA, Neb., March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's, brands of ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG), are helping consumers to better understand the benefits of frozen meals and experience frozen foods in a new way. Inspired by emerging technologies and current trends in augmented reality, the Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's brands created a visionary video that follows two women on the adventures of their daily lives, imagining how new technologies will impact their routines, especially in the grocery store. From organizing their shopping lists to accessing product reviews and nutrition information in real time, the video imagines how consumers will leverage new technologies to elevate their shopping experience.

Streamlining the way consumers shop will be key, making it easier, more convenient and an intuitive part of their daily lives, rather than a chore. As technology advances, consumers will be able to learn more about the food they're buying and eating, download coupons directly to their loyalty card and optimize the best route around the grocery store based on their shopping list.

Along with the video, Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's hope to change consumer perceptions about frozen foods by demystifying some of the most common misperceptions about the $55 billion industry. 1 Consumers want to learn more about the food they eat – where it comes from and how it's made – and a recent survey from ConAgra Foods revealed that taste, nutritional benefits and cost are among the top reasons Americans are hesitant to purchase frozen food. 2

Fact: Frozen food is made with real, fresh tasting ingredients Some consumers have been apprehensive to shop the frozen food aisle due to false stigmas around the category. The survey revealed that 80 percent of people agree that frozen foods are highly processed. 3 In fact, the vegetables in Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's frozen meals are picked at the peak of freshness and blanched before being frozen; a technique many home cooks use. Most vegetables' journey from farm to freezer happens within 24 hours to preserve color, texture and maximum freshness.

"Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's are here to tell the story of frozen meals and help consumers make better shopping decisions while walking through the frozen aisle," says Rob McCutcheon, president Consumer Foods Frozen of ConAgra Foods. "What consumers will see, and what we hope to convey through the video, is that frozen meals can have a place in your busy life and can be just as delicious as homemade."

Marie Callender's and Healthy Choice frozen meals are created by chefs in kitchens in the United States, using quality ingredients, keeping nutrition and taste in mind. They are developed to give families access to quality ingredients like crisp vegetables, al dente pasta and delicious fruit year-round. These chef inspired meals look for solutions to add great flavor like apples instead of sugar for tart sweetness and a splash of red wine instead of added salt.

Fact: Frozen food can be nutritious In fact, the FDA has stated there is virtually no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. 4 Another benefit to frozen meals is that they are pre-portioned providing a tasty alternative to meal replacements like bars and shakes. Portion control is a strong evidence-based strategy for weight management as recommended by Dietary Guidelines for America. As a part of this effort, Healthy Choice and Marie Callender's have also partnered with nutritionist Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N, to share the nutritional benefits of frozen foods.

Fact: Buying frozen food can save money and prevent waste The National Resource Defense Council estimates that 40 percent of food goes uneaten each month in the United States. Not surprisingly, the Eco Pulse Survey from the Shelton Group reports 39 percent of Americans feel the most "green guilt" for wasting food, almost double the number who feel guilty about not recycling. Because so many Americans are wasting food, Supermarket Guru and food trends expert Phil Lempert suggests purchasing frozen foods.

"Frozen fruits and vegetables are typically harvested and flash frozen, which slows the loss of nutrients compared to their raw counterparts in which the nutrients continue to degrade over time," says Lempert, a ConAgra Foods spokesperson. "Some raw produce can spend as much as half of its peak freshness period in distribution."

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