A look at how shoppers are approaching the frozen meat category

Caddle digs into Canadians’ appetite for frozen meat
woman shopping for frozen meat
Data shows there is a generational divide in approaches to stocking the freezer.

Shopping behaviours have been in flux with high interest rates and inflation taking a bite out of Canadians’ budgets. Many consumers have looked for ways to save in the grocery aisles, and as one of the pricier items on the grocery list, meat is one place to do just that.

For a better understanding of Canadian shoppers’ take on frozen meat, Caddle surveyed a weighted representative sample of thousands of consumers coast-to-coast. According to five Daily Survey Panels between December 2023 and January 2024, a majority (68%) of respondents said they shop for frozen meat – with just 32% saying they do not. 

While most Canadians do buy frozen meat, it is not a frequent purchase. A little more than 29% of Canadian shoppers said they buy it rarely, whereas 23% said they buy it monthly, and nearly 22% add it to their carts a few times a month. When Canadians do shop for frozen meat, it is to be enjoyed as a meal for the family, with a whopping 88.4% serving it up for dinner any day of the week.

READ: What’s hot in the frozen food aisle

For most shoppers, frozen meat is a planned purchase. Only 21% of respondents said they buy it on impulse, compared to 79% who go to the store with a product in mind. Most shoppers stick to brands they know and love. When their brand of choice is not available, more than half of respondents said they would look for it on their next shopping trip, compared to one-quarter of consumers who said they would not be opposed to switching brands. 

The data shows there is a generational divide in approaches to stocking the freezer. Nearly 40% of boomers say they rarely buy frozen meat and consume it just a few times per month. Compare that with the younger generations, and there is a stark difference. Millennials, for instance, were most likely to say they shop for frozen meat weekly or more frequently, followed closely by gen Z.

Those younger, less financially established generations are also more likely to have changed where they buy frozen meat in the last 12 months and are more willing to go to another store to find their favourite brand or search for better deals at discount grocery chains.

READ: Why millennials are increasingly shopping in the frozen food aisle

The generational differences continue when it comes to private-label brands. Across the board, 63.6% of respondents say the quality of private-label frozen meat is the same as national brands. Yet, boomers are more likely to see it as lesser quality and trust it less than some national brands. They also make up the majority (37.4%) of respondents who said they are not at all likely to buy private-label meat in the next six months.

Younger generations show much less brand bias, with 33.3% of millennials saying they trust private labels more than national brands, followed closely behind by 28.1% of gen Z respondents. They are also more likely to buy online. While only 12% of people surveyed said they get their frozen meat primarily online, millennials were the generation most likely to do so (37.9%) and boomers the least (15.1%).

When ordering online, Walmart is the preferred choice for frozen meat purchases for most respondents (32.9%), with Loblaws trailing closely behind (31.7%) and Costco as the merchant of choice for 29.2% of shoppers. 

READ: Elevating frozen meals

The role played by reviews and ratings in influencing purchase decisions is largely dependent on where shoppers are buying. Only 19.1% of respondents said ratings and reviews are very important in their decision-making process when shopping for frozen meat, while 17% said they aren’t at all important. For in-store shoppers, they are less of a consideration than for online shoppers. Indeed, ratings and reviews of frozen meat products are very important factors in helping sway purchasing decisions online for 61% of people. 

While frozen meat is not an everyday purchase for most Canadian shoppers, it remains a freezer staple for many. When asked to look ahead to the next six months, 41.5% of people surveyed said they plan to buy more of it – most of whom were millennials and gen Zers. For younger generations who may be more focused on savings and convenience, frozen meat has clear benefits worth shopping around for. 

This article first appeared in Canadian Grocer’s February 2024 issue.

More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds