An air fryer is on sale at the Kroger Market in Versailles, Kentucky, US, on Tuesday, November 2. 24, 2020.
Scotty Perry | bloomberg | Getty Images
Kettle Foods, known for its kettle-cooked potato chips, recently revealed what it called “the future of the potato chip category”: fried potato chips.
the Campbell’s soup The launch of the brand’s snacks, made with patent-pending technology, is the latest example of Big Food betting on consumers’ love of all things cooked in air fryers.
In 2022, American consumers spent nearly $1 billion buying air fryers, up 51% from 2019, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Cooker sales have been up since 2017, and they got an extra boost during the early days of the pandemic as people cooked more at home.
And now that more workers are returning to the office and spending less time in the kitchen, consumers are increasingly turning to convection ovens. Joe Derochowski, a home industry consultant with the NPD Group, said the main draw is the device’s ease and speed of use, as well as getting the crispy texture without deep frying. Food manufacturers want to take advantage of this trend.
“They say necessity is the mother of invention. And in this case, necessity is to keep growing the top line,” said Ken Harris, Managing Partner at Cadent Consulting Group. “The best way to grow your top line is to take a behavior that already exists and find a new use for that behavior.”
Big food companies like Kraft Heinz And Nestle Sales increased early in the pandemic. As consumers began eating out at restaurants again and cooking less, food manufacturers’ sales continued to grow thanks to double-digit price increases. But as shoppers’ grocery bills soar in 2022, they’ve started buying cheaper options instead, causing volume to shrink.
With inflation slowing and retailers putting pressure on suppliers to stop raising prices, food companies have had to look for growth elsewhere.
Adam Graves, head of pizza and snacks at Nestlé America, said the company is leaning on the air fryer boom with its frozen food brands, specifically to offer customers greater value.
“It’s the biggest trend we’re seeing right now in modern cooking,” said Graves, who himself owns two air fryers.
Last year, Nestlé launched pizza meals under its DiGiorno and Stouffer brands. Packaging for both lines asked consumers to “try it in the air fryer”. Other Nestle products, such as Hot Pockets, now include air fryer cooking instructions along with instructions for heating in the microwave and oven.
Tyson Foods It jumped on the trend relatively early, launching its line of air-fried in 2019. The products, from chicken strips to the latest addition, Parmesan-spiced chicken bites, have 75 percent less fat. Colin Hall, chief marketing officer for the Tyson brand, said the line has reached nearly $100 million in annual retail sales.
Tyson is also a third of the way in by adding air fryer directions to its packaging for frozen prepared foods.
“If you look at how often it’s used as a preparation method, it’s about 5%,” Hall said. “I think consumers want to use it more, they want more options to use it. So it’s a good timing for us to put it on our packaging.”
Air fryer trends are boosting preference for the Tyson brand, according to Hall, who cited recent health data for the brand. She customized it for the convenience of the device and the perceived health benefits of the cooking process.
For Gorton’s Seafood, maker of fish sticks, getting more air-frying is a way to retain the customers it gained during pandemic lockdowns.
“[The pandemic] “It was a very dramatic shift that brought a lot of new families into our category and into the brand,” Jake Holbrook, Gorton’s vice president of marketing, told CNBC. And we’ve worked hard through our messaging and our products to keep these consumers in this category and get Americans to eat more seafood.”
The cart is filling up
Air frying is the second most popular way to heat up frozen prepared foods, according to Holbrook.
The company, which is owned by Nissui, got in on the trend by putting air fryer cooking instructions on its website. Then she added the instructions to the packaging. In January, it unveiled fried butterfly shrimp and air-fried fish fillets.
Gorton’s Air Fried Fish Fillets and Air Fried Butterfly Shrimp launched nationwide in January.
Source: Gorton Seafood
Gorton’s new Butterfly Shrimp and Fish Fillets were cooked by air-frying before being packaged, but consumers can reheat the seafood by air-frying it again. Product packaging indicates that it contains 50% less fat.
“Everyone is going to jump on this bandwagon over the next couple of years while it’s trendy,” Harris said.
Other food manufacturers following this trend include kellogg, which began including air fryer instructions for Morningstar Farms vegan products in early 2021 in response to customer inquiries. in the same vein, Hormel Foods He’s been responding to consumer demand for the air fryer by updating its packaging and adding recipes on its website and YouTube cooking videos to create uncooked potato and corned beef hash at Mary Kitchen.
Nestlé went even further, targeting consumers who had not yet purchased an air fryer. In December, it partnered with Insta Brands, maker of the Insta Pot and its own version of the air fryer, to give away the device. A similar endowment was made internally at Nestlé USA for its employees.
Graves estimates that nearly 60% of American households have an air fryer at this point. But it is not ubiquitous yet.
“If you measure it to a microwave—there’s a microwave in almost everyone’s home—the air fryer has a long way to go,” Harris said.
However, it is well on its way to joining the microwave as a staple in US kitchens. In 2022, the air fryer has leapt over grills and multicooker ovens to become number one. 4 Cookers, according to NPD Group.
“I think people originally thought [the air fryer] “It was something that would have been a fad,” said Tyson Hall. “It’s similar to what happened in the ’70s—people were thinking the same thing about the microwave.”