Conagra Brands, the food manufacturer, has seen a spike in trial for brands that were previously “forgotten” by many consumers, but that have grown in relevance due to the spread of COVID-19.

Sean Connolly, president/chief executive officer at Conagra, discussed this subject on a recent earnings call held with investors – and suggested a prior decline in demand for categories like frozen food has gone into reverse.

“We believe the sharp increase in at home eating occasions is generating trial among new consumers that we did not anticipate accessing,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Conagra Brands sees wave of new customers – and revival of old brands – due to COVID-19.)

Conagra views increased trial as a “long-term opportunity” across its portfolio – and especially its frozen food stable, which includes offerings like Van de Kamp seafood and Banquet chicken, Celeste pizza, and Hungry-Man TV dinners.

Although evolving dietary habits – and an increased focus on health and wellness – previously had steered buyers away from low-temperature aisles in grocery stores, the unique circumstances of COVID-19 are reversing that trend.

“There has been a massive amount of transformation in our categories in the last five years. Frozen, in particular, doesn’t even closely resemble the category that it used to be. The quality of the food is in a completely different place,” Connolly said.

“And we’ve seen consumers so far who have tried that new food respond extremely favorably to it – and large, established brands that had long been forgotten are growing strongly again.”

The long-term “repeat rates” for these customers will vary depending on the individual, and might not ultimately translate into a vast number of people that buy with high frequency. “When you get new triers like this, you tend to be getting lighter users. So, it may not be the kind of repeat rates we get from super-heavy users,” said Connolly.

“But the point of all of this is it should help categories like frozen.… It should help some of our other categories that people may have forgotten about, but it’s just too early to quantify the impact of that.”

Sourced from WARC