100 years ago, the US naturalist Clarence Birdseye developed the first system for deep freezing, later known as the plate freezer. His investment: 7 dollars, a fan, ice and salt. On 6 March 1930, the first frozen vegetables were sold in the USA. With his invention, the deep-freeze pioneer Birdseye revolutionised the food industry and gave birth to a global industry that is still booming today. The products also enjoy great popularity in the catering industry because of their many advantages. In this interview, Dr Sabine Eichner, Managing Director of the German Frozen Food Institute (Deutsches Tiefkühlinstitut e. V., (dti)), explains the opportunities and advantages of the technology for the hospitality industry:
Which topics will play an important role for the frozen food range of the future?
In 2023, the food industry will continue to face major challenges in terms of inflation and energy crisis. Nevertheless, the key issues of the future, such as sustainability and plant-based nutrition, are gaining enormous importance, to which the frozen food manufacturers have already found numerous promising answers. New frozen products for a more sustainable consumption style will enrich the product ranges. Vegetarian and vegan choices are increasing. The individualisation of nutrition and eating habits is gaining more importance. This also means that convincing convenience solutions will score even more points with naturalness, freshness, economy and sustainability.
What trends do you see in the gastronomy? How can frozen products help to overcome the enormous challenges of the industry?
The Corona pandemic has further exacerbated the shortage of skilled workers: many restaurants have had to severely restrict menus or opening hours. The guest’s claims have also changed. Needs are becoming more complex, with stagnating expenditure. The trend leads therefore towards system gastronomy which can make attractive offers with convenience products such as frozen goods. The advantages are obvious: the innovative products look like handmade and can be creatively individualised. Frozen food also offers a lot of flexibility in the professional kitchen because the products are durable for a long time, can be portioned well, are not seasonal and can be prepared just in time.
The frozen food industry can look back on a proud past - but the future also holds great tasks: How do you intend to tackle them?
The frozen food industry will continue to lead the way with a pioneering spirit on issues such as innovation and sustainability. We are consistently making progress in further reducing the CO2 footprint. Already in 2012, the Öko-Institut Freiburg calculated climate balances that show that our food has no higher CO2 footprint than other forms of supply. Our industry was recently the first to demonstrate its pioneering role in resource conservation with concrete data in the "Check Food Waste" project: Only very little food waste occurs throughout the entire frozen food chain. With our "Future Workshop" we have also given the starting signal for the frozen food industry's path to climate neutrality in 2022.